15 Validating Database Files and Backups

This chapter explains how to check the integrity of database files and backups. This chapter includes the following topics:

Overview of RMAN Validation

This section explains the basic concepts and tasks involved in RMAN validation.

Purpose of RMAN Validation

The main purpose of RMAN validation is to check for corrupt blocks and missing files. You can also use RMAN to determine whether backups can be restored. You can use the following RMAN commands to perform validation:




See Also:

Basic Concepts of RMAN Validation

The database prevents operations that result in unusable backup files or corrupted restored datafiles. The database automatically does the following:

  • Blocks access to datafiles while they are being restored or recovered

  • Permits only one restore operation for each datafile at a time

  • Ensures that incremental backups are applied in the correct order

  • Stores information in backup files to allow detection of corruption

  • Checks a block every time it is read or written in an attempt to report a corruption as soon as it has been detected

Checksums and Corrupt Blocks

A corrupt block is a block that has been changed so that it differs from what Oracle Database expects to find. Block corruptions can be caused by a number of different failures including, but not limited to the following:

  • Faulty disks and disk controllers

  • Faulty memory

  • Oracle Database software defects

DB_BLOCK_CHECKSUM is a database initialization parameter that controls the writing of checksums for the blocks in datafiles and online redo log files in the database (not backups). If DB_BLOCK_CHECKSUM is typical, then the database computes a checksum for each block during normal operations and stores it in the header of the block before writing it to disk. When the database reads the block from disk later, it recomputes the checksum and compares it to the stored value. If the values do not match, then the block is corrupt.

By default, the BACKUP command computes a checksum for each block and stores it in the backup. The BACKUP command ignores the values of DB_BLOCK_CHECKSUM because this initialization parameter applies to datafiles in the database, not backups.

Physical and Logical Block Corruption

In a physical corruption, which is also called a media corruption, the database does not recognize the block at all: the checksum is invalid, the block contains all zeros, or the header and footer of the block do not match.


By default, the BACKUP command computes a checksum for each block and stores it in the backup. If you specify the NOCHECKSUM option, then RMAN does not perform a checksum of the blocks when creating the backup.

In a logical corruption, the contents of the block are logically inconsistent. Examples of logical corruption include corruption of a row piece or index entry. If RMAN detects logical corruption, then it logs the block in the alert log and server session trace file.

By default, RMAN does not check for logical corruption. If you specify CHECK LOGICAL on the BACKUP command, however, then RMAN tests data and index blocks for logical corruption, such as corruption of a row piece or index entry, and log them in the alert log located in the Automatic Diagnostic Repository (ADR). If you use RMAN with the following configuration when backing up or restoring files, then it detects all types of block corruption that are possible to detect:

  • In the initialization parameter file of a database, set DB_BLOCK_CHECKSUM=typical so that the database calculates datafile checksums automatically (not for backups, but for datafiles in use by the database)

  • Do not precede the BACKUP or RESTORE command with SET MAXCORRUPT so that RMAN does not tolerate any block corruptions

  • In a BACKUP command, do not specify the NOCHECKSUM option so that RMAN calculates a checksum when writing backups

  • In BACKUP and RESTORE commands, specify the CHECK LOGICAL option so that RMAN checks for logical as well as physical corruption

Limits for Corrupt Blocks in RMAN Backups

You can use the SET MAXCORRUPT command to set the total number of corruptions permitted in a file for RMAN backups. The default is zero, meaning that RMAN tolerates no corrupt blocks of any kind.

If the MAXCORRUPT limit is exceeded when RMAN encounters a corrupt block during a backup, then RMAN terminates the backup. Otherwise, RMAN writes the corrupt block to the backup with a special header indicating that the block is marked corrupt. You can use the VALIDATE command to determine which blocks are marked corrupt.

Because RMAN can permit block corruptions in a backup, it is possible to restore a datafile that RMAN knows to contain block corruptions. If you back up this restored datafile, then RMAN does not consider blocks already marked corrupt when it calculates whether MAXCORRUPT has been exceeded.

See Also:

Oracle Database Backup and Recovery Reference for SET MAXCORRUPT syntax

Detection of Block Corruption

Oracle Database supports different techniques for detecting, repairing, and monitoring block corruption. The technique depends on whether the corruption is interblock corruption or intrablock corruption. In intrablock corruption, the corruption occurs within the block itself. This corruption can be either physical or logical. In an interblock corruption, the corruption occurs between blocks and can only be logical.

For example, the V$DATABASE_BLOCK_CORRUPTION view records intrablock corruptions, while the Automatic Diagnostic Repository (ADR) tracks all types of corruptions. Table 15-1 summarizes how the database treats different types of block corruption.

Table 15-1 Detection, Repair, and Monitoring of Block Corruption

Response Intrablock Corruption Interblock Corruption


All database utilities detect intrablock corruption, including RMAN (for example, the BACKUP command) and the DBVERIFY utility. If a database process can encounter the ORA-1578 error, then it can detect the corruption and monitor it.

Only DBVERIFY and the ANALYZE statement detect interblock corruption.


The V$DATABASE_BLOCK_CORRUPTION view displays blocks marked corrupt by Oracle Database components such as RMAN commands, ANALYZE, dbv, SQL queries, and so on. Any process that encounters an intrablock corruption records the block corruption in this view and in ADR.

The database monitors this type of block corruption in ADR.


Repair techniques include block media recovery, restoring datafiles, recovering by means of incremental backups, and block newing. Block media recovery can repair physical corruptions, but not logical corruptions.

Any RMAN command that fixes or detects that a block is repaired updates V$DATABASE_BLOCK_CORRUPTION. For example, RMAN updates the repository at end of successful block media recovery. If a BACKUP, RESTORE, or VALIDATE command detects that a block is no longer corrupted, then it removes the repaired block from the view.

You must fix interblock corruption by means of manual techniques such as dropping an object, rebuilding an index, and so on.

Checking for Block Corruption with the VALIDATE Command

You can use the VALIDATE command to manually check for physical and logical corruptions in database files. This command performs the same types of checks as BACKUP VALIDATE, but VALIDATE can check a larger selection of objects. For example, you can validate individual blocks with the VALIDATE DATAFILE ... BLOCK command.

When validating whole files, RMAN checks every block of the input files. If the backup validation discovers corrupt blocks, then RMAN updates the V$DATABASE_BLOCK_CORRUPTION view with rows describing the corruptions.

Use VALIDATE BACKUPSET when you suspect that one or more backup pieces in a backup set are missing or have been damaged. This command checks every block in a backup set to ensure that the backup can be restored. If RMAN finds block corruption, then it issues an error and terminates the validation. Note that VALIDATE BACKUPSET enables you to choose which backups to check, whereas the VALIDATE option of the RESTORE command lets RMAN choose.

To use VALIDATE to check database files and backups:

Start RMAN and connect to a target database.

Execute the VALIDATE command with the desired options.

For example, to validate all datafiles and control files (and the server parameter file if one is in use), execute the following command at the RMAN prompt:


Alternatively, you can validate a particular backup set by using the form of the command shown in the following example (sample output included).


Starting validate at 17-AUG-06
using channel ORA_DISK_1
allocated channel: ORA_SBT_TAPE_1
channel ORA_SBT_TAPE_1: SID=89 device type=SBT_TAPE
channel ORA_SBT_TAPE_1: Oracle Secure Backup
channel ORA_DISK_1: starting validation of datafile backup set
channel ORA_DISK_1: reading from backup piece /disk1/oracle/work/orcva/RDBMS/backupset/2007_08_16/o1_mf_nnndf_TAG20070816T153034_2g774bt2_.bkp
channel ORA_DISK_1: piece handle=/disk1/oracle/work/orcva/RDBMS/backupset/2007_08_16/o1_mf_nnndf_TAG20070816T153034_2g774bt2_.bkp tag=TAG20070816T153034
channel ORA_DISK_1: restored backup piece 1
channel ORA_DISK_1: validation complete, elapsed time: 00:00:01
Finished validate at 17-AUG-06

The following example illustrates how you can check individual data blocks within a datafile for corruption.

Starting validate at 17-AUG-06
using channel ORA_DISK_1
channel ORA_DISK_1: starting validation of datafile
channel ORA_DISK_1: specifying datafile(s) for validation
input datafile file number=00001 name=/disk1/oracle/dbs/tbs_01.f
channel ORA_DISK_1: validation complete, elapsed time: 00:00:01
List of Datafiles
File Status Marked Corrupt Empty Blocks Blocks Examined High SCN
---- ------ -------------- ------------ --------------- ----------
1    OK     0              2            127             481907
  File Name: /disk1/oracle/dbs/tbs_01.f
  Block Type Blocks Failing Blocks Processed
  ---------- -------------- ----------------
  Data       0              36
  Index      0              31
  Other      0              58

Finished validate at 17-AUG-06

Parallelizing the Validation of a Datafile

If you need to validate a large datafile, then RMAN can parallelize the work by dividing the file into sections and processing each file section in parallel. If multiple channels are configured or allocated, and if you want the channels to parallelize the validation, then specify the SECTION SIZE parameter of the VALIDATE command.

If you specify a section size that is larger than the size of the file, then RMAN does not create file sections. If you specify a small section size that would produce more than 256 sections, then RMAN increases the section size to a value that results in exactly 256 sections.

To parallelize the validation of a datafile:

Start RMAN and connect to a target database. The target database must be mounted or open.

Run VALIDATE with the SECTION SIZE parameter.

The following example allocates two channels and validates a large datafile. The section size is 1200 MB.


Validating Database Files with BACKUP VALIDATE

You can use the BACKUP VALIDATE command to do the following:

  • Check datafiles for physical and logical block corruption

  • Confirm that all database files exist and are in the correct locations

When you run BACKUP VALIDATE, RMAN reads the files to be backed up in their entirety, as it would during a real backup. RMAN does not, however, actually produce any backup sets or image copies.

You cannot use the BACKUPSET, MAXCORRUPT, or PROXY parameters with BACKUP VALIDATE. To validate specific backup sets, run the VALIDATE command.

To validate files with the BACKUP VALIDATE command:

Start RMAN and connect to a target database and recovery catalog (if used).

Run the BACKUP VALIDATE command.

For example, you can validate that all database files and archived logs can be backed up by running a command as shown in the following example. This command checks for physical corruptions only.


To check for logical corruptions in addition to physical corruptions, run the following variation of the preceding command:


In the preceding examples, the RMAN client displays the same output that it would if it were really backing up the files. If RMAN cannot back up one or more of the files, then it issues an error message. For example, RMAN may show output similar to the following:

RMAN-00571: ===========================================================
RMAN-00569: =============== ERROR MESSAGE STACK FOLLOWS ===============
RMAN-00571: ===========================================================
RMAN-03002: failure of backup command at 08/29/2007 14:33:47
ORA-19625: error identifying file /oracle/oradata/trgt/arch/archive1_6.dbf
ORA-27037: unable to obtain file status
SVR4 Error: 2: No such file or directory
Additional information: 3

See Also:

Validating Backups Before Restoring Them

You can run RESTORE ... VALIDATE to test whether RMAN can restore a specific file or set of files from a backup. RMAN chooses which backups to use.

The database must be mounted or open for this command. You do not have to take datafiles offline when validating the restore of datafiles, because validation of backups of the datafiles only reads the backups and does not affect the production datafiles.

When validating files on disk or tape, RMAN reads all blocks in the backup piece or image copy. RMAN also validates offsite backups. The validation is identical to a real restore operation except that RMAN does not write output files.


As an additional test measure, you can perform a trial recovery with the RECOVER ... TEST command. A trial recovery applies redo in a way similar to normal recovery, but it is in memory only and it rolls back its changes after the trial.

To validate backups with the RESTORE command:

Run the RESTORE command with the VALIDATE option.

This following example illustrates validating the restore of the database and all archived redo logs:


If you do not see an RMAN error stack, then skip the subsequent steps. The lack of error messages means that RMAN had confirmed that it can use these backups successfully during a real restore and recovery.

If you see error messages in the output and the RMAN-06026 message, then investigate the cause of the problem. If possible, correct the problem that is preventing RMAN from validating the backups and retry the validation.

The following error means that RMAN cannot restore one or more of the specified files from your available backups:

RMAN-06026: some targets not found - aborting restore

The following sample output shows that RMAN encountered a problem reading the specified backup:

RMAN-03009: failure of restore command on c1 channel at 12-DEC-06 23:22:30
ORA-19505: failed to identify file "oracle/dbs/1fafv9gl_1_1"
ORA-27037: unable to obtain file status
SVR4 Error: 2: No such file or directory
Additional information: 3

See Also:

Oracle Database Backup and Recovery Reference to learn about the RESTORE ... VALIDATE command