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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.

RMAN restore spfile from autobackup and compatible weirdness

Prompted by a recent interview I wanted to perform a little test with RMAN, and incrementally updated backups. I created a database on my Linux (OEL 5.5) test system and refreshed my understanding of this most useful rman feature (which is for another post).

So after I was happy with the working of the incrementally updated image copies I decided to see if I could restore my database with those. Time to use “drop database”, which removes spfile, data files, temp files and the control files. Tabula rasa!

But it didn’t matter I thought: I have controlfile/spfile autobackups and fully recovered image copies plus all the archived logs in the FRA. What could possibly go wrong? Well it took me 30 minutes to get the database back.