How To Implement Multiuser Custom Counters in Jet 4.0 and ADO 2.1

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Because the Microsoft Jet database engine has a read cache and lazy writes, you can get duplicate values in your custom counter field if two applications add records in less time than it takes for the cache to refresh and the lazy-write mechanism to flush to disk. This article presents a method that takes these factors into account.


The Microsoft Jet database engine provides a Counter (AutoIncrement) field. Starting with Jet 4.0, you can specify a starting value and an increment value. This solves most of the need for using a custom counter that users of earlier versions of Jet had. However, if your counter is a text value or does not increase in a fixed amount, the steps outlined in this article may benefit your application.

Microsoft Jet has a read-cache that is updated every PageTimeout milliseconds (default is 5000ms = 5 seconds). It also has a lazy-write mechanism that operates on a separate thread to main processing and thus writes changes to disk asynchronously. These two mechanisms help boost performance, but in certain situations that require high concurrency, they may create problems.

The Microsoft Jet 4.0 OLEDB provider and the Microsoft Jet and Replication Objects type library provide two methods to ensure that your application has current data:

  • JetEngine object's RefreshCache method.
  • "Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode" Connection property.

JetEngine object's RefreshCache Method

There is a separate read-cache for each connection object. Calling the RefreshCache method of the JetEngine object, as exposed by the Microsoft Jet and Replication Objects type library, immediately refreshes the read-cache for the Connection objects passed as a method argument. The read-cache for all other Connection objects in the application are not affected.

"Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode" Connection Property

In Microsoft Jet 2.x and earlier, all writes were immediately committed. With Win32 and multi-threading, Microsoft Jet introduced a lazy-write mechanism. Setting this property to a value of 1 causes all transaction commits to be written immediately to disk for that Connection object. All other Connection objects are unaffected.

These methods are preferable to modifying registry values to get the same effect because you can precisely control where you need this value and they are more deterministic in operation. Global registry programs will adversely affect engine performance in other areas and in other applications.


The following example provides a function for generating custom counter numbers and handling the concurrency and locking issues that result from the process. It involves the use of a second table to store the next available key value. This is used for performance reasons and also to avoid adversely affecting users who would just need to read data.

The main function is NextKeyValue. It accepts three arguments:
  • Connection object
  • Table name
  • Increment value
Increment value is optional and defaults to 1. The function opens the table using a server-side cursor, a transaction, and pessimistic locking and then reads the value from the first field of the first record. This is the key value returned. It then increments the value for the next user and releases the table.

When you set the initial value in the table, this is the first value returned by the function.

The error handling is designed to handle locking problems opening the table. If the locks time-out, the function returns -1 as the next key value. If any other error occurs, the function raises a run-time error that the main application will need to trap.

Because most people leave their registry settings untouched, Microsoft Jet will usually have a 100ms delay between lock-retries. If all instances of Jet have the same delay, this could result in a race situation and cause your application to time-out more than is necessary. The NextKeyValue function sets the lock retry to a random interval between 60 and 150 milliseconds to reduce the chance of a race condition occurring. The test application is responsible for using the RANDOM statement to seed the random number generator.

The test application adds 100 records to the table. It does not implement any but the most basic error handling to handle lock timeouts between the program and others like it.

Microsoft provides programming examples for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. This article assumes that you are familiar with the programming language being demonstrated and the tools used to create and debug procedures. Microsoft support professionals can help explain the functionality of a particular procedure, but they will not modify these examples to provide added functionality or construct procedures to meet your specific needs.
If you have limited programming experience, you may want to contact a Microsoft Certified Partner or Microsoft Advisory Services. For more information, visit these Microsoft Web sites:

Microsoft Certified Partners -

Microsoft Advisory Services -

For more information about the support options that are available and about how to contact Microsoft, visit the following Microsoft Web site:;EN-US;CNTACTMS

Database Setup

  1. In Microsoft Access, open the NWind.MDB file, and create the following tables:
               Table: KeyStore
          Field Name: NextValue
                Type: Number, Long Integer
          Field Name: Dummy
                Type: Number, Long Integer
               Table: KeyTest
          Field Name: ID
                Type: Number, Long Integer
          Field Name: Description
                Type: Text, 50
  2. Open the KeyStore table and add a record. Set NextValue to the amount from which you want your counter to start. For example: 3.
  3. Save the record and close Microsoft Access.

Test Program

  1. Open a new Visual Basic or Visual Basic for Applications project with a Form (Form1) and a Module (Module1).
  2. From the Project menu, choose References and add a reference to the Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects 2.1 (or later) Library and the Microsoft Jet and Replication Objects 2.1 (or later) Library.
  3. Add the following code to the Module:
    Option Explicit
    Private Const MAX_RETRIES = 10
    Function NextKeyValue(cn As ADODB.Connection, _
                          ByVal TableName As String, _
                          Optional Increment As Long = 1) As Long
    Dim OldCommitMode As Long, rs As Recordset, ErrorCount As Long
    Dim TempKeyValue As Long, Jet As JRO.JetEngine, InTrans As Boolean
      NextKeyValue = -1   ' returns this if the routine times out
      OldCommitMode = cn.Properties("Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode")
      cn.Properties("Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode") = 1
      cn.Properties("Jet OLEDB:Lock Delay") = 90 + Int(Rnd * 60)
      Set rs = New ADODB.Recordset
      Set Jet = New JRO.JetEngine
      On Error GoTo NKV_Error
      rs.Open TableName, cn, adOpenDynamic, adLockPessimistic, adCmdTableDirect
      InTrans = True
      If rs.EditMode Then rs.CancelUpdate
      rs!Dummy = 0            ' lock the record
      Jet.RefreshCache cn     ' get current data
      TempKeyValue = rs(0)    ' .UnderlyingValue gives an error
      rs(0) = TempKeyValue + Increment
      InTrans = False
      cn.Properties("Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode") = OldCommitMode
      NextKeyValue = TempKeyValue
      Exit Function
      On Error Resume Next
      If rs.EditMode Then rs.CancelUpdate
      cn.Properties("Jet OLEDB:Transaction Commit Mode") = OldCommitMode
      Exit Function
      Select Case Err.Number
        Case &H80004005
          ' Various locking errors (above)
          ErrorCount = ErrorCount + 1
          If ErrorCount < MAX_RETRIES Then
            Resume NKV_Abort
          ElseIf InTrans Then
            Resume NKV_InnerRetry
          End If
        Case Else   ' unhandled errors
          Err.Raise Err.Number, Err.Source, Err.Description
      End Select
    End Function
  4. Add a command button (Command1) and a text box (Text1) to the form.
  5. Add the following code to the form:
    Option Explicit
    Dim cn As ADODB.Connection
    Private Sub Command1_Click()
    Dim SQL As String, I As Long
      For I = 1 To 100
        SQL = "INSERT INTO KeyTest VALUES (" & _
              NextKeyValue(cn, "KeyStore", 10) & _
              ",'Test Record " & Me.hWnd & " " & Time & "')"
        On Error GoTo C1_Error
        cn.Execute SQL, , adExecuteNoRecords
        On Error GoTo 0
        Text1 = CStr(I)
      Next I
      Exit Sub
    End Sub
    Private Sub Form_Load()
      Set cn = New ADODB.Connection
      cn.Open "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=\\moonbase\public\northwind40.mdb"
    End Sub
    Private Sub Form_Unload(Cancel As Integer)
    End Sub
  6. In Visual Basic, compile the application to an EXE. Run the application from multiple computers and click Command1 at the same time. It will run to completion (barring any unhandled errors) and then add records without duplicate ID numbers.


  • The KeyStore table does not require an index. You will get better performance and have fewer problems if you do not add (or allow Microsoft Access to add) and index or Primary Key to the table.
  • The fewer indexes on the KeyText table, the better. Indices have a negative effect on the ability to lock and update data quickly. If you have problems in your application, try reducing the number of indices.
  • Unlike Data Access Objects (DAO) or Remote Data Objects (RDO), ADO does not have an Edit method. In order to turn on pessimistic locking, the program modifies the "Dummy" field in the record to get the same effect. This field has been added to the table solely for this purpose and does not contain any useful information.


For more information about Jet and ADO, please see:

Migrating from DAO to ADO and Using ADO with the Jet Provider
For information on implementing a mutli-user custom counter using Microsoft Data Access Objects (DAO):

191253 How To Implement Multi-user Custom Counters in DAO 3.5


Article ID: 240317 - Last Review: November 23, 2006 - Revision: 3.4
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic Enterprise Edition for Windows 6.0
  • Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects 2.1 Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects 2.1 Service Pack 2
  • Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects 2.5
  • Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects 2.6
kbclient kbdatabase kbhowto kbjet KB240317

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