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How to Shrink TempDB in SQL 2005

Introduction

From time to time you find yourself needing to shrink some space out of TempDB. Shrinking database files is never my first choice but sometimes it is the best I have. Many people think that you cannot shrink TempDB in SQL 2005, but I am going to show you how.

Why would I need to shrink TempDB?

Yesterday afternoon my pager started going crazy because an Ad-Hoc query that needed some tuning filled TempDB on a server. Luckily, the user only impacted their own query so it was easy to quickly identify them and work with the right people to get the query rewritten.

Once the immediate problem was resolved there had to be some cleanup. On this server, TempDB has 32 files (1 per processor) all on the same disk. The full database condition caused all kinds of alerts in our monitoring tools, from drive space alerts to too few growths remaining. There were 3 possible solutions to quiet the alerts:

1. Reboot – There is never a good time to reboot a production server

2. Turn off the Alerts – Not really an option. My preference would be for increasing the sensitivity

3. Shrink TempDB – Not a great option, but the best of the 3

Shrinking TempDB

Once we had decided that we would go ahead and shrink the files in TempDB it seemed like the hard part was done, but after running the following command:

USE [tempdb]

GO

DBCC SHRINKFILE (N’tempdev’ , 5000)

GO

I got back the following:

DBCC SHRINKFILE: Page 1:878039 could not be moved because it is a work file page.

DbId FileId CurrentSize MinimumSize UsedPages EstimatedPages

—— ———– ———– ———– ———– ————–

2 1 878040 640000 4672 4672

 

(1 row(s) affected)

 

DBCC execution completed. If DBCC printed error messages, contact your system administrator.

 

“Page could not be moved because it is a work file page.”…grrr. This is a new thing in SQL 2005 caused by the caching that is done in TempDB. I am not going to try to explain here how objects are cached in TempDB, but Kalen Delaney’s Inside Sql Server Series is a great place to learn about it if you are interested (http://www.insidesqlserver.com/books.html). What is important is that the cached objects are tied to a query plan and that by freeing the procedure cache you can make those objects go away, allowing you to shrink your files.

Trying again:

DBCC FREEPROCCACHE

GO

USE [tempdb]

GO

DBCC SHRINKFILE (N’tempdev’ , 5000)

GO

This time it worked:

 

DBCC execution completed. If DBCC printed error messages, contact your system administrator.

DbId FileId CurrentSize MinimumSize UsedPages EstimatedPages

—— ———– ———– ———– ———– ————–

2 1 640000 640000 264 264

 

(1 row(s) affected)

 

DBCC execution completed. If DBCC printed error messages, contact your system administrator.

I think I got lucky that the shrink worked on the first try. There will certainly be times when you have to try freeing the procedure cache and shrinking multiple times to get a file to shrink, but eventually it will get the job done.

Comments

Posted by Stephan Czarnomski on 22 February 2011

Thanks.  I may use this next time i find myself in this situation.

Posted by dwilliscp on 2 December 2013

I had a bad query blow up temp db (maxed out at the drive 276G) I have been able to shrink the file.. but the database (and the drive) still show 276G. I run "DBCC SHRINKDATABASE (tempdb, TRUNCATEONLY);" and it does nothing. What else do I need to do? (other than reboot)

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