Extended events in Azure SQL Database

Applies to: Azure SQL Database

The feature set of extended events in Azure SQL Database is a robust subset of the features on SQL Server and Azure SQL Managed Instance.

XEvents is an informal nickname that is sometimes used for 'extended events' in blogs and other informal locations.

Additional information about extended events is available at:


This article assumes you already have some knowledge of:

Prior exposure to the following items is helpful when choosing the Event File as the target:

Code samples

Related articles provide two code samples:

Transact-SQL differences

  • When you execute the CREATE EVENT SESSION command on SQL Server, you use the ON SERVER clause. But on Azure SQL Database you use the ON DATABASE clause instead.

  • The ON DATABASE clause also applies to the ALTER EVENT SESSION and DROP EVENT SESSION Transact-SQL commands.

  • A best practice is to include the event session option of STARTUP_STATE = ON in your CREATE EVENT SESSION or ALTER EVENT SESSION statements.

    • The = ON value supports an automatic restart after a reconfiguration of the logical database due to a failover.

New catalog views

The extended events feature is supported by several catalog views. Catalog views tell you about metadata or definitions of user-created event sessions in the current database. The views do not return information about instances of active event sessions.

Name of catalog view Description
sys.database_event_session_actions Returns a row for each action on each event of an event session.
sys.database_event_session_events Returns a row for each event in an event session.
sys.database_event_session_fields Returns a row for each customize-able column that was explicitly set on events and targets.
sys.database_event_session_targets Returns a row for each event target for an event session.
sys.database_event_sessions Returns a row for each event session in the database.

In Microsoft SQL Server, similar catalog views have names that include .server_ instead of .database_. The name pattern is like sys.server_event_%.

New dynamic management views (DMVs)

Azure SQL Database has dynamic management views (DMVs) that support extended events. DMVs tell you about active event sessions.

Name of DMV Description
sys.dm_xe_database_session_event_actions Returns information about event session actions.
sys.dm_xe_database_session_events Returns information about session events.
sys.dm_xe_database_session_object_columns Shows the configuration values for objects that are bound to a session.
sys.dm_xe_database_session_targets Returns information about session targets.
sys.dm_xe_database_sessions Returns a row for each event session that is scoped to the current database.

In Microsoft SQL Server, similar catalog views are named without the _database portion of the name, such as:

  • sys.dm_xe_sessions instead of sys.dm_xe_database_sessions.

DMVs common to both

For extended events there are additional DMVs that are common to Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and Microsoft SQL Server:

Find the available extended events, actions, and targets

To obtain a list of the available events, actions, and target, use the sample query:

        p.name         AS [package_name],
        o.name         AS [db_object_name],
        o.description  AS [db_obj_description]
                   sys.dm_xe_objects  AS o
        INNER JOIN sys.dm_xe_packages AS p  ON p.guid = o.package_guid
        o.object_type in
            'action',  'event',  'target'


Targets for your Azure SQL Database event sessions

Here are targets that can capture results from your event sessions on Azure SQL Database:

The Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) API is not available for extended events on Azure SQL Database.


There are a couple of security-related differences befitting the cloud environment of Azure SQL Database:

  • Extended events are founded on the single-tenant isolation model. An event session in one database cannot access data or events from another database.
  • You cannot issue a CREATE EVENT SESSION statement in the context of the master database.

Permission model

You must have Control permission on the database to issue a CREATE EVENT SESSION statement. The database owner (dbo) has Control permission.

Storage container authorizations

The SAS token you generate for your Azure Storage container must specify rwl for the permissions. The rwl value provides the following permissions:

  • Read
  • Write
  • List

Performance considerations

There are scenarios where intensive use of extended events can accumulate more active memory than is healthy for the overall system. Therefore Azure SQL Database dynamically sets and adjusts limits on the amount of active memory that can be accumulated by an event session. Many factors go into the dynamic calculation.

There is a cap on memory available to XEvent sessions in Azure SQL Database:

  • In single Azure SQL Database in the DTU purchasing model, each database can use up to 128 MB. This is raised to 256 MB only in the Premium tier.
  • In single Azure SQL Database in the vCore purchasing model, each database can use up to 128 MB.
  • In an elastic pool, individual databases are limited by the single database limits, and in total they cannot exceed 512 MB.

If you receive an error message that says a memory maximum was enforced, some corrective actions you can take are:

  • Run fewer concurrent event sessions.
  • Through your CREATE and ALTER statements for event sessions, reduce the amount of memory you specify on the MAX_MEMORY clause.

There is a cap on number of started XEvent sessions in Azure SQL Database:

  • In a single Azure SQL Database, the limit is 100.
  • In an elastic pool, the limit is 100 database-scoped sessions per pool.

In dense elastic pools, starting a new extended event session may fail due to memory constraints even when the total number of started sessions is below 100.

Network latency

The Event File target might experience network latency or failures while persisting data to Azure Storage blobs. Other events in Azure SQL Database might be delayed while they wait for the network communication to complete. This delay can slow your workload.

  • To mitigate this performance risk, avoid setting the EVENT_RETENTION_MODE option to NO_EVENT_LOSS in your event session definitions.