Deadlocks are a classic problem in transactional databases, but they are not dangerous unless they are so frequent that you cannot run certain transactions at all. Normally, you must write your applications so that they are always prepared to re-issue a transaction if it gets rolled back because of a deadlock.

Understanding the locking situation

MySQL/MariaDB automatically detects transaction deadlocks and rolls back a transaction or transactions to break the deadlock. It tries to pick small transactions to roll back, where the size of a transaction is determined by the number of rows inserted, updated, or deleted.

In order to fix a deadlock you will need to get an understanding of the scenarios where deadlocks occur in your application by analyzing the Nextcloud log for patterns in the deadlock errors. The Nextcloud log will only show the transaction that was rolled back in this case so in order to properly understand the deadlock scenario it is required to obtain further information from the database server. By default you can find the last detected deadlock in the output of SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS however innodb_print_all_deadlocks can be used as a setting to write all occurring deadlocks to the server logs. Those give detailed insight about which queries are holding a lock and are causing the query from Nextcloud to run into a deadlock.


There are basically 3 options on how deadlocks can be handled properly. It is not critical for all use case to handle them, however as per recommendation of MySQL/MariaDB the application should be prepared to handle them properly.

Ignoring deadlocks

There are some scenarios where a deadlock could be safely ignored, like when updating a timestamp that is likely already being updated by another concurrent request. In this case developers can catch the exception and ignore the failed transaction.

try {
      // Database transaction that runs into the deadlock
} catch (DbalException $e) {
      // ignore the failure
        $this->logger->info("Deadlock detected, but ignored", ['exception' => $e]);

Retrying deadlocks

In other cases it might be feasible to just retry the specific database transactions. In this case the exception needs to be catched and the transaction needs to be re-issued. It is recommended to limit the amount if retries in case the deadlock occurring regularly. In this case you may follow the next section.

An example how to do that can be found in

Starting with Nextcloud 27 there is also a useful helper method atomicRetry which makes retrying transactions a lot simpler:

class MyClass {
  use \OCP\AppFramework\Db\TTransactional;

  public function myFunction() {
     $this->atomicRetry(function() {
       // Database transaction that runs into the deadlock
     }, $this->connection, 5);

Avoiding deadlocks

While not always possible due to the concurrency that may happen on Nextcloud, it might be feasible to refactor logic so that the load of concurrent writes to a table or columns is reduced or only one request may hold a lock at a table row at the same time.