Transaction in SQL Server

Transaction in SQL Server

In this article, I am going to discuss Transaction in SQL Server with some examples. As part of this article where are going to discuss the following pointers.

  1. What is a Transaction?
  2. What is Transaction Management?
  3. How to implement Transaction in SQL Server?
  4. Understanding @@ERROR global variable
  5. Finally, we will discuss some examples.
What is a Transaction in SQL Server?

The transaction helps us to group a set of tasks as one logical unit and all of these sets of tasks are either all get committed or all get reverted back or rollback if there is an error. In simple words, we can say that a transaction is a set of SQL statements that should be executed as one unit.

A transaction ensures that either all of the command succeeds or none of them. If one of the commands in the transaction fails, all of the commands fail and any data that is modified in the database is rolled back. In this way, the transaction maintains the data integrity in a database.

For example, if you are doing back transaction i.e. transferring money from one account to another account. Then, in this case, there are two updates. One update is happening in the senders account from where the money is going and the other update is happening in the receiver’s account who is receiving the money. Both of these updates should either get committed or get rollback if there is an error. We don’t want the transaction to be in the half-committed state.

What is a Transaction in SQL Server

Let’s say you have a Customer table and an Address table. And you want if someone adds a customer and an address, then both of the inserts should pass or both of the inserts should fail, then in such type of scenarios you need to use transactions.

What is Transaction Management in SQL Server?

The process of combining a set of related operations into a single unit and executing those operations by applying to do everything or do nothing principle is called transaction management. For example, transfer money task is the combination of two operations

  1. Withdraw money from the Senders account
  2. Deposit Money into the Receivers account.

We need to execute these two statements or operations by applying to do everything or nothing principle performing the transaction management. So, every transaction has two boundaries

  1. Beginning
  2. Ending

And controlling the boundaries of a transaction is nothing but transaction management.

How to implement Transactions in SQL Server?

In order to understand this, please have a look at the following diagram which shows the Transaction processing steps. As you can see in the below image, transaction processing involves three steps. First, we need to begin the transactions. Then we need to write the DML operations which we want to execute as a single unit. In the third step, we need to check for errors. If there is any error i.e. any of the DML statements fails, then rollback the transaction (any data that is modified in the database will be rollback) else commit the transaction so that the data is saved permanently to the database.

How to implement Transactions in SQL Server

To manage the transaction in SQL Server, we have provided with transaction control language (TCL). TCL provides the following command which we can use to implement transactions in SQL Server.


Begin Transaction: It indicates that the transaction is started.

Commit Transaction: It indicates that the transaction completed successfully and all the data manipulation operation performed since the start of the transaction committed to the database and frees the resources held by the transaction.

Rollback Transaction: It will roll back the data to its previous state.

Save Transaction: This is used for dividing or breaking a transaction into multiple units so that the user has a chance of roll backing a transaction up to a point or location.

Note: Transactional Control Language commands are only used with the DML statements such as INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE only. They cannot be used while creating tables or dropping them because these operations are automatically committed to the database. In the next article, we will discuss the different types of Transactions in SQL Server.

Example to implement Transaction in SQL Server:

Let us see some examples to implement and understand the transaction in SQL Server. We are going to use the following Product table to understand transactions in SQL Server.

Example to implement Transaction in SQL Server

Please use the below SQL Script to create and populate the Product table with the required test data.

--Create Product table
 Name VARCHAR(40), 
 Price INT,
 Quantity INT

 -- Populate Product Table with test data
 INSERT INTO Product VALUES(101, 'Product-1', 100, 10)
 INSERT INTO Product VALUES(102, 'Product-2', 200, 15)
 INSERT INTO Product VALUES(103, 'Product-3', 300, 20)
 INSERT INTO Product VALUES(104, 'Product-4', 400, 25)
Example of COMMIT transaction with DML statements

The following is an example of a Commit Transaction.

 INSERT INTO Product VALUES(105,'Product-5',500, 30)
 UPDATE Product SET Price =350 WHERE ProductID = 103
 DELETE FROM Product WHERE ProductID = 103

Once you commit the transaction, then you cannot Rollback the above three statements. After committing the transaction, now your Product will have the following data.

Example of COMMIT transaction with DML statements

What is the need for the ROLLBACK command?

The Rollback command in SQL Server is used to undo the transactions that have not already been saved to the database and get back to the initial state from where the transaction was started.

So, if you want to restore the data into its previous state then you need to use the ROLLBACK command at any time after the DML queries have been written but remember once the COMMIT has been written then we cannot ROLLBACK the data.

Example of ROLLBACK TRANSACTION with DML statements

Please execute the below statement to understand the Rollback command.

INSERT INTO Product VALUES(106,'Product-6',600, 30)
UPDATE Product SET Price =550 WHERE ProductID = 105
DELETE FROM Product WHERE ProductID = 104

When you execute the above transaction and as you can see the transaction is not committed, then you have the chance to rollback all the operations (DML operations) on the table by using the Rollback Transaction command like below.


Understanding @@Error Global variable:

This is a global variable and we can use this variable to check if there is any error or not.

Let us see an example, to understand this. As you can see, in the below example, first we start the transaction using the Begin Transaction statement. Then we write two insert statements. Then we check if there is an error using the global system variable @@ERROR. The value greater than 0 means, there is some error. If there is some error then we rollback the transaction else we commit the transaction.

INSERT INTO Product VALUES(110,'Product-10',600, 30)
INSERT INTO Product VALUES(110,'Product-10',600, 30)

IF(@@ERROR > 0)
    Rollback Transaction
   Commit Transaction

Once you execute the above transaction, then you will see that the transaction is rollback. This is because we try to insert a duplicate value into the Primary key column.

Why we need Transaction in SQL Server?

We need the Transaction in SQL Server to safeguard enterprise data (to make enterprise data consistent and to achieve data integrity).

A transaction is the propagation of one or more changes to the database. For example, if we are creating a record or updating a record or deleting a record from the table, then we are performing the transaction on the table. It is important to control transactions to ensure data integrity and to handle database errors.

What is the thumb rule of Transaction?

The rule of transaction tells that either all the statements in the transaction should be executed successfully or none of those statements to be executed.

In the next article, I am going to discuss the Different Types of Transactions in SQL Server with examples. Here, in this article, I try to explain the Transaction Management in SQL Server step by step with some examples. 

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