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Introducing basic database backup concepts

Logical Backup of Data in Oracle

Although it is considered the DBA's job to perform database backups, users should be strongly encouraged to make their own EXP backups. If a user does not have a personal EXP backup copy and accidentally deletes data, then discovers this days after the fact, it might become a DBA's nightmare to hunt for the correct backup file to recover the lost data.

What strategies are available for backing-up an Oracle database?

The following methods are valid for backing-up an Oracle database:
  1. Export/Import - Exports are "logical" database backups in that they extract logical definitions and data from the database to a file.
  2. Cold or Off-line Backups - shut the database down and backup up ALL data, log, and control files.
  3. Hot or On-line Backups - If the database is available and in ARCHIVELOG mode, set the tablespaces into backup mode and backup their files. Also remember to backup the control files and archived redo log files.
  4. RMAN Backups - while the database is off-line or on-line, use the "rman" utility to backup the database.

It is advisable to use more than one of these methods to backup your database. For example, if you choose to do on-line database backups, also cover yourself by doing database exports. Also test ALL backup and recovery scenarios carefully. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Regardless of your strategy, also remember to backup all required software libraries, parameter files, password files, etc. If your database is in ARCHIVELOG mode, you also need to backup archived log files.