SQL Replication The Initial Snapshot for Publication is not yet Available

19 Apr
April 19, 2012

While setting up SQL Server Replication (Transactional Replication to be specific), I had successfully created the Publication and the Subscriptions, but nothing was being replicated between the publisher SQL Server instance and the subscriber SQL Server instance.

When viewing the subscription details through the Replication Monitor tool, the subscription was not throwing an error, and hanging with the following message:

The initial snapshot for publication is not yet available.

In the post I will explain why this is appearing, and how to resolve the issue and generate the required Replication Snapshot.

A Snapshot is generated by the Snapshot Agent, and used by Transactional Replication (as well as other types of replication) to initialize an object that is being replicated with the full current data-set, allowing that object to start receiving any new transactions issued after the snapshot has been taken.

There are other ways you could initialize an object in a subscription, including:

  • Initialize Subscription from Backup.
  • Initialize Subscriptions Manually.
  • Generate a Snapshot through the Snapshot Agent.

There are multiple reasons why an initial snapshot would not be available for a subscription to use, some of these are:

  • The Snapshot Agent did not run after a new subscription has been created: Basically if a new subscription is created, the Snapshot Agent needs to run once to generate a recent snapshot, in order to initialize a subscription.
  • The Snapshot Agent did not run after a subscription has been initialized: Similar scenario to the above, if a subscription has been initialized you need to run the Snapshot Agent and generate a recent snapshot.
  • A database that contains a subscription has been restored: If a database has been restored, you will need to initialize the subscription by generating a new Snapshot.

Its important to note that although your Snapshot Agent might show that you have a Snapshot ready, it might not be a recent snapshot, and you might require to update this snapshot in order for replication to resume.

How to solve the “Initial Snapshot for Publication is not yet Available Error

Well, as the above suggests, you need to run the Snapshot Agent and generate a recent snapshot, this can be done through the Replication Monitor, or by running the Snapshot Agent job in SQL Server Job Agent.

If you have regular new subscriptions being added/initialized in a Transactional Replication topology, and depending on your data size, it might be recommended to regularly generate a new snapshot through scheduling the Snapshot Agent job in Job Agent.

Anyway hope this helps!

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4 replies
  1. Ankit Mathur says:


    I’m currently dealing with this issue in my MSSQL box.

    One of my Publication regularly gives me this error.
    Untill now I have to reinitialize the subscription. But I wish to avoid that as I have huge tables marked in replication and once I reinitialize it takes hours for it to finish up. Untill then our application gets out of bound.

    Can you suggest me a way to restart the replication without reinitializing the subscription?

    Ankit Mathur

    • admin says:

      Hi Ankit,

      There are other options to re-initializing your subscription using a Snapshot, I would suggest having a look at the sp_addsubscription procedure and focusing on the @sync_type parameter of that procedure.

      You can basically tell SQL Server to assume that the subscription has been initialized, and to start replicating commands immediately, or you can even use other methods like backup, or manual ETL to initialize a subscription. This article describes manual replication initializing strategies .

      The question that needs to be asked though before making a decision on which method to go down for initializing a subscription is: Why is your publication regularly giving you that error?

  2. mbourgon says:

    There’s one other thing that can cause it – on SQL Server 2005, one of the Stored Procedures that the Replication Monitor calls, has the wrong default parameter. If the stars are just right (or maybe “just wrong”), then just viewing a server can cause it to be reinitialized. This happens if the distributor is 2005, even if the replication monitor is not. And it’s also a reason not to set up periodic snapshots – the last thing you need is it deciding it needs to reinitialize during the business day.

    • Links Naji says:

      Hey M,

      That is a great find! something like that could make you pull out hairs for days trying to diagnose the issue before figuring out exact what is happening.



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