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Way back in June 2005, I blogged about ‘8 Steps to better transaction log throughput‘. I did this blog post after seeing (again and again) overly fragmented transaction logs… Transaction logs can become *VERY* fragmented when they are not preallocated and instead they grow excessively through unmanaged (and probably the default settings for) auto-growth.

First, here’s how the log is divided into VLFs. Each “chunk” that is added, is divided into VLFs at the time the log growth (regardless of whether this is a manual or auto-grow addition) and it’s all dependant on the size that is ADDED not the size of the log itself. So, take a 10MB log that is extended to 50MB, here a 40MB chunk is being added. This 40MB chunk will be divided into 4 VLFs. Here’s the breakdown for chunksize:

chunks less than 64MB and up to 64MB = 4 VLFs

chunks larger than 64MB and up to 1GB = 8 VLFs

chunks larger than 1GB = 16 VLFs

And, what this translates into is that a transaction log of 64GB would have 16 VLFs of 4GB each. As a result, the transaction log could only clear at more than 4GB of log information AND that only when it’s completely inactive.

[Edit Jan 2015: this algorithm has changed in SQL Server 2014 – see Paul’s post here for details.]

To have a more ideally sized VLF, consider creating the transaction log in 8GB chunks (8GB, then extend it to 16GB, then extend it to 24GB and so forth) so that the number (and size) of your VLFs is more reasonable (in this case 512MB).

Have fun and thanks for reading!!


BEWARE – there’s a bug when growing the log in multiples of 4GB. Check out Paul’s post for more information: Bug: log file growth broken for multiples of 4GB. In the end, the best amount is to allocate with a value of 8000MB instead of 8GB.