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Restoring Controlfile When AUTOBACKUP Fail

Allow me to present the snapshot of a day from the life of John--the DBA at Acme Bank. On this particular day a database John manages crashed entirely and had to be restored from the backup. He takes regular (backupset) RMAN backups to tape. Since everything--including the controlfile--had crashed, John had to first restore the controlfile and then restore the database. The controlfile is always backed up with the backup database command. John was sure of that. However, restore controlfile from autobackup gave the error:

RMAN-06172: no AUTOBACKUP found or specified handle is not a valid copy or piece

Without the controlfile, the recovery was stuck, even though all the valid pieces were there. It was a rather alarming situation. Others would have panicked; but not John. As always, he managed to resolve the situation by completing recovery. Interested to learn how? Read on.