Five Myths of Oracle Database Backup

When it comes to protecting Oracle Database servers and systems, there are a ton of myths out there. Here are the most common.

Oracle Database is one of the most popular business database servers. In fact, it topped the database popularity charts for few years in a row, according to Millions of companies store their most critical data – ERP, CRM, finance databases – in Oracle Database servers and systems. Given the importance of these systems, it’s no wonder there are a lot of opinions and myths about protecting Oracle Databases. Here are the top five:

1. RMAN is the only way to back up Oracle DB

Oracle Database purists will insist that only the vendor’s tool can properly and reliably back up the database. While RMAN (Recovery Manager) is undoubtedly a reliable and proven option, it is not the only way. Backup software vendors, including Acronis, worked for years to ensure that the most popular database can be protected by centralized, company-wide backup solutions. In addition, Oracle Database supports multiple operating system frameworks, like Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service), ensuring that system-wide disk snapshots contain consistent state of the database.

For example, in Windows, Microsoft VSS sends a freeze signal to the database engine (version 10g and above), which saves all the pending transactions and reports that data is frozen. Backup software like Acronis Backup Advanced, integrated with VSS, takes a disk snapshot in less than a second and immediately thaws the database via the same framework. There is no break in the connection or denial of service, and the process is transparent to users and applications.

2. RMAN is the wrong way to back up Oracle DB

The opposite camp of backup administrators insists that RMAN has limitations and should not be used in production. They argue that most backup tools provided by vendors are extremely limited, complex and slow – basing their assertions on the example of built-in backups in Windows, Linux and popular applications.

However, sometimes RMAN is the only proper way to back up a database. For example, if you use raw partitions or ASM, only the latest update of RMAN will ensure that your database is properly backed up. Even if your backup software claims to support raw partitions or ASM out of the box, one small update of the database engine can introduce optimizations that can break third-party backup software.

3. Backup of Database data is enough

This common misconception stems from the fact that the data in a database may be 1,000 times more valuable than the server itself. You can install a new operating system and a database engine, but the lost data cannot be recovered without backup.

However, the biggest mistake here is the failure to consider the time associated with recovery and the cost of downtime. The time spent to reinstall and reconfigure the system will cost a business a lot of money — $8,851 per minute on average, according to Emerson Network Power study.

You have to back up your database data, and you have to back up your database server software – including the server’s operating system and configuration — which is best done with a disk-imaging backup solution, like Acronis Backup Advanced. This will allow you to restore the entire server quickly within a fraction of a time the manual reinstallation takes.

4. Restoring single tables/partitions/items is easy and safe

Many backup solution vendors are touting the ability of granular recovery as an easy and safe feature. However, there is a reason there is an “R” in the RDBMS acronym for your Oracle DB. It stands for relational.

Say your ERP database has the CUSTOMER table with customer data, and another ORDER table with order data. If you restore a week-old CUSTOMER table, but keep the ORDER table as-is, you will have orders referring to customers missing from the CUSTOMER table, creating all sorts of havoc due to table inconsistency. Restoring a single table also can cause issues with indices, views, and other mechanisms in the database.

Unless you are sure what you are doing, dedicate some time and restore the entire database whenever possible.

5. Oracle DB server can be only restored to the same hardware

I remember few years ago trained DBAs telling me I cannot back up an Oracle Database on an HP server and restore to an IBM server.

I did it successfully with Acronis Backup Advanced – backing up the entire server with the help of Microsoft VSS and restoring it to dissimilar hardware with Acronis Universal Restore. After rigorous tests, the DBAs conceded that it works perfectly.

Interestingly enough, this myth is linked to the incorrect belief that Oracle Database cannot run on virtual machines. In fact, Oracle Database engine works perfectly on VMs with one caveat described in the Oracle support policy, which states: “Oracle has not certified any of its products on VMware virtualized environments.” In short, if you have an issue, you may need to have it addressed by VMware support.

Alternatively, you can also choose to use Oracle VM Server virtualization instead of VMware – and you will have full support from a single vendor. Moreover, Acronis Backup Advanced for Oracle VM will help you to protect your virtual machines and databases.


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