Roll forward versus roll back

Database extra tip #2 from "30 tips in 30 minutes," brought to you by the IOUG.

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In discussions of Oracle database mechanisms, you hear the terms roll forward and rollback.

Roll forward refers to the process Oracle goes through to apply changes contained in the redo log files (both online and archive). The database clock (as measured by the system change number) is moved forward within the blocks of the datafile that are changed within the redo log vectors. Roll forward occurs during database, tablespace or datafile recovery and during crash recovery.

Rollback is the process of undoing uncommitted database transactions. The blocks copied to the rollback segments during transactions as a copy of the block for other transaction to read. When the instance aborts, the undo information in the redo log files must be applied to the database during the roll forward process of recovery. Therefore, during recovery, the database must roll forward and roll back.

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About the author: Kenny Smith has been working with Oracle technology on HP servers for over a decade. He specializes in Oracle database architecture, database administration and development. He has presented at numerous Oracle conferences on two continents. He has published many articles describing Oracle solutions and has co-authored "Oracle backup and recovery 101" from Oracle Press.

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