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Oracle® Database Administrator's Guide
11g Release 1 (11.1)

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What Are Oracle-Managed Files?

Using Oracle-managed files simplifies the administration of an Oracle Database. Oracle-managed files eliminate the need for you, the DBA, to directly manage the operating system files that make up an Oracle Database. With Oracle-managed files, you specify file system directories in which the database automatically creates, names, and manages files at the database object level. For example, you need only specify that you want to create a tablespace; you do not need to specify the name and path of the tablespace's datafile with the DATAFILE clause. This feature works well with a logical volume manager (LVM).

The database internally uses standard file system interfaces to create and delete files as needed for the following database structures:

Through initialization parameters, you specify the file system directory to be used for a particular type of file. The database then ensures that a unique file, an Oracle-managed file, is created and deleted when no longer needed.

This feature does not affect the creation or naming of administrative files such as trace files, audit files, alert logs, and core files.

See Also:

Oracle Database Storage Administrator's Guide for information about Automatic Storage Management (ASM), the Oracle Database integrated file system and volume manager that extends the power of Oracle-managed files. With Oracle-managed files, files are created and managed automatically for you, but with ASM, you get the additional benefits of features such as striping, software mirroring, and dynamic storage configuration, without the need to purchase a third-party logical volume manager.

Who Can Use Oracle-Managed Files?

Oracle-managed files are most useful for the following types of databases:

  • Databases that are supported by the following:

    • A logical volume manager that supports striping/RAID and dynamically extensible logical volumes

    • A file system that provides large, extensible files

  • Low end or test databases

The Oracle-managed files feature is not intended to ease administration of systems that use raw disks. This feature provides better integration with operating system functionality for disk space allocation. Since there is no operating system support for allocation of raw disks (it is done manually), this feature cannot help. On the other hand, because Oracle-managed files require that you use the operating system file system (unlike raw disks), you lose control over how files are laid out on the disks and thus, you lose some I/O tuning ability.

What Is a Logical Volume Manager?

A logical volume manager (LVM) is a software package available with most operating systems. Sometimes it is called a logical disk manager (LDM). It allows pieces of multiple physical disks to be combined into a single contiguous address space that appears as one disk to higher layers of software. An LVM can make the logical volume have better capacity, performance, reliability, and availability characteristics than any of the underlying physical disks. It uses techniques such as mirroring, striping, concatenation, and RAID 5 to implement these characteristics.

Some LVMs allow the characteristics of a logical volume to be changed after it is created, even while it is in use. The volume may be resized or mirrored, or it may be relocated to different physical disks.

What Is a File System?

A file system is a data structure built inside a contiguous disk address space. A file manager (FM) is a software package that manipulates file systems, but it is sometimes called the file system. All operating systems have file managers. The primary task of a file manager is to allocate and deallocate disk space into files within a file system.

A file system allows the disk space to be allocated to a large number of files. Each file is made to appear as a contiguous address space to applications such as Oracle Database. The files may not actually be contiguous within the disk space of the file system. Files can be created, read, written, resized, and deleted. Each file has a name associated with it that is used to refer to the file.

A file system is commonly built on top of a logical volume constructed by an LVM. Thus all the files in a particular file system have the same performance, reliability, and availability characteristics inherited from the underlying logical volume. A file system is a single pool of storage that is shared by all the files in the file system. If a file system is out of space, then none of the files in that file system can grow. Space available in one file system does not affect space in another file system. However some LVM/FM combinations allow space to be added or removed from a file system.

An operating system can support multiple file systems. Multiple file systems are constructed to give different storage characteristics to different files as well as to divide the available disk space into pools that do not affect each other.

Benefits of Using Oracle-Managed Files

Consider the following benefits of using Oracle-managed files:

  • They make the administration of the database easier.

    There is no need to invent filenames and define specific storage requirements. A consistent set of rules is used to name all relevant files. The file system defines the characteristics of the storage and the pool where it is allocated.

  • They reduce corruption caused by administrators specifying the wrong file.

    Each Oracle-managed file and filename is unique. Using the same file in two different databases is a common mistake that can cause very large down times and loss of committed transactions. Using two different names that refer to the same file is another mistake that causes major corruptions.

  • They reduce wasted disk space consumed by obsolete files.

    Oracle Database automatically removes old Oracle-managed files when they are no longer needed. Much disk space is wasted in large systems simply because no one is sure if a particular file is still required. This also simplifies the administrative task of removing files that are no longer required on disk and prevents the mistake of deleting the wrong file.

  • They simplify creation of test and development databases.

    You can minimize the time spent making decisions regarding file structure and naming, and you have fewer file management tasks. You can focus better on meeting the actual requirements of your test or development database.

  • Oracle-managed files make development of portable third-party tools easier.

    Oracle-managed files eliminate the need to put operating system specific file names in SQL scripts.

Oracle-Managed Files and Existing Functionality

Using Oracle-managed files does not eliminate any existing functionality. Existing databases are able to operate as they always have. New files can be created as managed files while old ones are administered in the old way. Thus, a database can have a mixture of Oracle-managed and unmanaged files.