05 November 2016

System.OutOfMemoryException in SQL Server Management Studio and other 32-bit Drawbacks

    I was playing this week with a few datasets downloaded from the web on various topics, trying to torture the data until they’ll confess something. A few of the datasets were prepared for load into a MySQL database as individual INSERT INTO statements. They were containing between 100000 and a few millions of records. While looking at the big but slim datasets in SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) and reconciling the differences between MySQL and SQL Server I got several times the System.OutOfMemoryException exception, SSMS crashing one or two times. That should be ok, given the number of records, though I was surprised that I got the same error message while executing the INSERT INTO statements for one of the smallest datasets which had about 300000 records:

    „An error occurred while executing batch. Error message is: Exception of type 'System.OutOfMemoryException' was thrown”

    Kb 2874903 brings some light into the topic – SSMS is still a 32-bit process and thus limited to 2GB of memory. The Kb offers three methods to avoid this issue. The first two, outputting the query results to text or file didn’t worked. The third method based on using sqlcmd utility worked smoothly with a syntax like the one below:

sqlcmd -i “<file_name.sql>” -d “<database name>”

    So it doesn’t matter that you’re having a supercomputer and that working with big datasets becomes a necessity nowadays, this limitation can make data loading just a little bit more complicated. On one side, it’s true that when dealing with such datasets is probably recommended to use directly sqlcmd to execute the scripts. On the other side, independently from this type of problem, even if understandable from the need of keeping backwards compatibility with 32-bit platforms/solutions, it’s hard to digest the fact that Microsoft keeps some of its products 32-bit based when SQL Server is targeting 64-bit platforms. One has same problem when using BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio), developing SSRS, SSIS or SSAS solutions under 32-bit and having maybe to deploy the code as 64-bit (e.g. SQL Server Agent). From my point of view most of the issues I had were when dealing with proprietary drivers like the ones for Oracle or even for MS Office. In addition in SSIS there could be features that are only available in 32-bit versions, or have limitations on 64-bit computers (see [5]). As it seems also the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) will have similar drawbacks…

   Anyway, sqlcmd utility saved the day with a minimum of overhead. Unfortunately it’s not always that easy to solvethe compatibility issues between 32-bit and 64-bit software and platforms.

Update 20.06.2017:
   One can synchronize the runtime version between BIDS and SQL Server Agent pretty easy. In BIDS under "Configuration Properties/Debug Option" at Project level, there is the “Run64BitRuntime” Property. Set to false it will run your package on 32-bit version. In a SQL Server Agent Package, there is the “Use 32 bit runtime” Checkbox under “Execution options” at step level. Checking this checkbox will run your package on 32-bit version.

   A hint that the two values might be out of synch is the following error message raised when running the package:
"Attempt to load Oracle client libraries threw BadImageFormatException. This problem will occur when running in 64 bit mode with the 32 bit Oracle client components installed."


[1] Microsoft Support (2013) Kb 2874903: "System.OutOfMemoryException" exception when you execute a query in SQL Server Management Studio https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2874903

[2] MSDN (2016) SQL Server 2016: sqlcmd Utility https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms162773.aspx

[3] MSDN (2016) SQL Server 2016: Use the sqlcmd Utility https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms180944.aspx

[4] MSDN (2012) Introducing Business Intelligence Development Studio  https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms173767.aspx

[5] SQL Server 2008 R2: 64 bit Considerations for Integration Services https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms141766(v=sql.105).aspx

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