Understanding what the WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE does

Published On: 2009-09-24By:

Based on some questions on forums and some of the responses that people have been giving there appears to be done misunderstanding about what the WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE option does when added to the ALTER DATABASE command.  My goal here is to try and clear up at least some of the confusion.

When you run the ALTER DATABASE command without a termination clause (ROLLBACK AFTER, ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE, NO_WAIT) the ALTER DATABASE command will run until the command completes, or until if command is terminated.

The ROLLBACK AFTER command tells the SQL Server to cancel any pending transactions and rollback those transactions after N number of seconds.


The ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE command tells the SQL Server that if it can’t complete the command right away, then the other pending transactions should be rolled back.

The NO_WAIT command has the opposite effect as ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE.  If the ALTER DATABASE transaction can’t be completed then that transaction is terminated.


Hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion.


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4 responses to “Understanding what the WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE does”

  1. Jameslean says:

    The NO_WAIT command has the same effect as ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE.

    I don’t think this is correct. WITH ROLLBACK AFTER | IMMEDIATE specifies when any [B]other[/B] transactions in the database should be rolled back, eg when setting the db to single user mode.

    NO_WAIT specifies that if the ALTER DATABASE command cannot complete, ie other open transactions exist, then the ALTER command itself should rollback/fail.

  2. Jameslean says:

    NB, the first line in my above post is the quote that I don’t think is correct!

  3. mrdenny says:

    I’m not sure how I managed to get that so wrong. I’ve updated the blog post so that it’s correct.

  4. Fhhdjfhjdhfjhjdfh says:


    when i run the command

    alter database northwind
    set multi_user with rollback immediate

    the northwind database shows ACCESS denied and tagged as SINGLE USER
    i donot understand why it so .can u pls explain .


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