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Database Maintenance- Data Corruption
November 05, 2013
At its broadest definition, the purpose of a database is to store and retrieve information. The evolution of the Relational Database today allows hundreds-of-thousands of organizations to process data and information in real-time for various business intelligence (BI) purposes. However, without performing some level of basic maintenance and sustainment practices, the database can become disorganized, unavailable or, worse yet, data can be lost forever.
Database maintenance and administration is critical to a company’s success. A finely tuned and maintained database allows transactional operations to continue performing smoothly with incidents minimized. Productivity remains efficient. We lose that efficiency, however, when a database is not properly maintained and managed.
What Is Maintenance?
Database Maintenance includes (but is certainly not limited to) spotting database corruption, rebuilding and repairing indexes, and database optimization. Maintenance ensures that your database not only continues to operate, but that it runs optimally and provides high availability. A well maintained and managed database environment will save a company operational time and the total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced. But what happens when that efficiency is lost due to a corruption in the database? Or more importantly, how do you know when your database has been corrupted?
One of the more obvious tasks that a DBA does is to look for any indication of corruption within the database. Corrupted data will cause application failure along with diminishing database sustainment. Data corruption surfaces in many different forms with varying signs of symptoms and conditions.
Signs That a Database Is Corrupted
Even though it is possible that a database may not show any symptoms of corruption, it will eventually. The major database vendors (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM) provide tools that can usually locate corruption. However sometimes those symptoms are subtle, which can escape detection, and sometimes the symptoms are extremely obvious.
One clear sign of database corruption is through an error message in application processing either for entry or query. For example, if a user is trying to generate a report, but an error message generated from the database prevents the report from running, that could very well be a sign that the database is corrupted. Even something as seemingly simple as finding additional characters in the fields could either be a sign of corruption in the database or it could be dirty data. Many times however, corruption in a database table or index is hard to detect and may not show up until certain blocks are accessed for query or transaction inserts or updates.
If the database is not being maintained and managed properly, data corruption is bound to occur at some point. Even if the symptoms are not obvious at first, productivity will likely begin to lag due to reports taking longer than normal to run or applications failing at various component levels. The net result to you is that your organization will start to become less efficient in processing time and even be exposed to database failure. Your company will lose the efficiencies that generate profits that it could or should be making.
By having a properly managed database, you can avoid the common pitfalls of data corruption. A highly experienced DBA or DBA Services will spot the signs of a corrupted database and remediate the issues before the corruption leads to larger problems, which means your data and your productivity remain at optimal levels for best possible performance.