12 November 2014

Making Copies of Copies with Oracle RMAN

I recently had need to make a copy of an image copy in Oracle rman. Since it wasn't immediately obvious to me, I thought it was worth sharing once I had it sorted out. I was familiar with making a backup of a backup, but had never thought about making a copy of a copy.

First you need to create an image copy of your database or tablespace. For the sake of example, I'll make a copy of the FOO tablespace. The key is to assign a tag to it that you can use for later reference. I'll use the tag "DTSCOPYTEST":

backup as copy 
    tablespace foo 
    tag 'DTSCOPYTEST'
    format '+DG1';

So I have my image copy in the DG1 tablespace. Now say we want to make copy of that for some testing purpose and put it in a different diskgroup. For that, we need the "BACKUP AS COPY COPY" command, and we'll want to specify the copy we just took by using the tag that was used:

backup as copy
    copy of tablespace foo
    from tag 'DTSCOPYTEST'
    tag 'DTSCOPYTEST2'
    format '+DG2';

As you'd guess, RMAN makes a copy of the first copy, writing it to the specified format location.

As always, hope this helps!

04 November 2014

The Importance of Backups (A Cautionary Block Recovery Tale)

Just wanted to share a quick story with everyone. As I was in the airport waiting to fly to Oracle OpenWorld this year, I noticed a flurry of emails indicating that part of our storage infrastructure for our standby production database had failed. Long story short, my co-workers did a brilliant job of stabilizing things and keeping recovery working. However, we ended up with more than a few block corruptions.

Using the RMAN command "validate database", we could then see the list of corrupt blocks in the v$database_block_corruption view. All that was needed was to run "recover corruption list" in RMAN, which will dig into datafile copies and backups to do what it can to repair or replace the corrupt blocks and then recover the datafiles. Of course, nothing is ever that easy for us!

The storage we were writing our weekly backups to had been having problems and the latest weekly had failed. We ended up having to back 2 weeks into backups to get the datafile blocks and archivelogs to eventually complete the corruption recovery. I also immediately moved our backups to more reliable storage as well so that we're never in the situation of wondering whether or not we have the backups we need.

So, triple-check your backup plan, validate your backups and TEST RECOVERY SCENARIOS! You can't say your backups are valid until you use them to perform a restore/recovery, and you don't want to find out the hard way that you forgot something.