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Posted Dec 18, 2003

CONFIGURE This! Taking Advantage of Oracle 9i Recovery Manager (RMAN) Features During Backups

By Jim Czuprynski

Synopsis. Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) features have been expanded significantly in Oracle 9i. This article discusses several of these new features and includes examples on how to implement them to make any Oracle DBA's backup, restoration, and disaster recovery plans more effective.

Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) is one of the most versatile tools in any Oracle DBA's toolbox to insure that a database is highly available. Our DBA group has been using it as our prime tool for database backup, recovery, duplication, and migration since we created our first Oracle 8i production databases in early 2001, and we continue to use it for those tasks after upgrading our databases to Oracle 9i Release 2 (9iR2).

The Oracle 8i RMAN command set is backward compatible, so when I upgraded our databases to 9iR2, I did not have to change our backup scripts. When I recently had a chance to refresh my Oracle 9i backup and recovery skills at Oracle University, however, I found out that I had been missing out on several of RMAN's newer features. Here is a short list of several RMAN features that were enhanced as of 9iR2:


The new CONFIGURE command encapsulates and replaces a number of older RMAN directives. For example, I can configure default settings for automatic backup channels so that my backup scripts do not require channel configuration statements each time they are run.

For example, to set default channels to use disk, set the default degree of parallelism to 2, and set up the default disk channel settings to be used during backup and recovery operations, the following commands would be issued:


(Note that I can also use these directives to configure default settings for media management software layers - often a tedious task prior to implementation of CONFIGURE - but this is beyond the scope of this article.)

The standard ALLOCATE CHANNEL command can be used to override the default settings for channels created via the CONFIGURE command. For example, issuing the following command will change the destination of the RMAN backups created, but still leave the default destination intact:

ALLOCATE CHANNEL d1 TYPE DISK FORMAT 'k:\rmanbkup\df0_%d_%s_%t';

Arrggh! I Forgot To Remember to Back Up The Control File!

Oracle recommends that the database's control file be backed up as part of a solid database backup and recovery strategy, since any changes to the database, such as the addition of datafiles or new tablespaces affect the control file.

When activated via the CONFIGURE CONTROLFILE AUTOBACKUP directive, RMAN will automatically back up the database's control file whenever a BACKUP or COPY command is issued during a backup. And - more importantly - it also creates a new controlfile backup whenever a database structural change occurs.

Finally, if your database is using a Server Parameter File (SPFILE) to store a binary version of the initialization parameters file, issuing this command will insure that the SPFILE is backed up automatically whenever it is changed as well.

Backup Space Management: Setting Default Retention Policies

My current production database configuration gives me the luxury of creating level 0 incremental backups every night to disk. Another DBA task I do not relish, is having to make sure my production database server has enough disk space to accommodate the daily RMAN backup pieces. Under Oracle 8i, I had to create a few scripts to delete the physical files from the backup directories and then issue CROSSCHECK BACKUP; and DELETE EXPIRED BACKUP; commands to clear out the backups from the database's control file.

Under Oracle 9iR2, though, the CONFIGURE RETENTION POLICY command gives me another set of options: I can simply tell RMAN to make sure I have enough backups to meet a specific recovery window. I can also tell RMAN to keep a specific number of copies of datafiles and controlfiles. For example, to make sure I have enough backups to recover the database as it stood up to three days ago, I would issue:


Moreover, to insure that I have at least two copies of each datafile and controlfile backup, I would issue:


RMAN keeps all archived redo logs and incremental backups necessary to insure the retention policies can be met. When a backup piece is no longer needed, RMAN marks it as obsolete. If I want to clear out all obsolete backup files, I simply need to run the DELETE OBSOLETE; RMAN command and RMAN handles the deletion of the corresponding physical files.

Improved Archived Redo Log (ARL) Backup Management

Managing ARL backups is also much improved under 9iR2. The BACKUP ARCHIVELOG command now accepts a new directive, NOT BACKED UP {integer} TIMES. RMAN will check to see if the ARL has already been backed up the specified number of times and exclude it from the backup if the criteria are met.

In addition, the RMAN DELETE command now includes a directive that will automatically delete an ARL once it has been backed up the specified number of times to the same device type:


CATALOG? We don't need no steenkin' CATALOG!

In Oracle 9i, NOCATALOG is now the default when the RMAN command is invoked. Take heart: It is indeed possible to perform RMAN backups without a Recovery Catalog on a separate database and server. In fact, I have been using this technique successfully for a full year against several production databases without any issues.

Now, a warning. Be aware that the database's control file only has enough room to store a limited number of RMAN backup entries in its catalog. Therefore, this option is only appropriate if you are backing up your full database on an almost-daily basis, or if you will have only a few backup files created every day between full database or incremental level 0 backups.

Scripts and Output

I have provided example scripts and actual output from RMAN sessions for some practical examples. Script 1 shows my original Oracle 8i RMAN backup script. Script 2 shows how to implement the CONFIGURE command to set default values. Finally, Script 3 is an example of the minimized scripting required after the CONFIGURE command has set the defaults for RMAN backups.

References and Additional Reading

I have drawn upon the following Oracle 9i Release 2 documentation for the deeper technical details of this article:

A96565-01 Oracle 9i Recovery Manager Reference

A96566-01 Oracle 9i Recovery Manager User's Guide

» See All Articles by Columnist Jim Czuprynski

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