Database Troubleshooting - Oracle Wiki

Database TroubleshootingThis is a featured page

Sooner or later every one of us gets into an Oracle problem he cannot solve on his own. What are the available resources and what is the most price/performance way to get problem solved and also become at least a bit smarter?

The first step is to use Oracle documentation.

There are at least two ways how to navigate to it - short oracle database documentation index and extended documentation index for many products and versions.
How to manage and understand the documentation?
10g version has more than 400 books and 11g a bit less than 300 (so far) - how to understand where to look for?
However it is important to understand some of the most important documents:
  • Concepts - overview about Oracle logical and physical architecture, memory management, data management, transactions, schema objects, various features, SQL, PL/SQL etc. Everybody working with Oracle database at least should scan the contents of this document and understand what concepts are introduced in Oracle.
  • 2 Day books - (2 Day + Performance Tuning Guide, 2 Day DBA) - some basic practical information for upstart developers and DBAs.
  • New Features Guide - short document containing answers to the very popular question in oracle forums what's the difference between version N and version N+1.
  • Administrator's Guide - deeper look into database administration than 2 Day DBA including crating db, starting and shutting it down, managing files and storage, managing tables and indexes, security and distributed database. Very important administration tasks - backup and recovery are covered in separate documents of the same name.
  • Installation guides - although smart people usually don't read documentation if you have any installation or deinstallation problem, pick the installation guide for your current OS and probably answer is there.
  • Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals - entry point (after concepts) for every database developer regardless of what technology and application architecture he uses.
  • PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference - "must read" for developer doing development in PL/SQL. Starting from the very basic concepts like operators, data types and control structures including descriptions how to write procedural units and performance code to such advanced concept like dynamic SQL and object types in PL/SQL.
  • SQL Reference and (simply) Reference – definite answer if you are going to ask what the syntax for statement X is or what the function for doing Y is. SQL Reference contains syntax for each and every SQL statement as well as SQL data types and functions, but (simply) Reference contains descriptions of Initialization parameters, and data dictionary (DBA/ALL/USER/V$) views.
  • Performance Tuning Guide - if your database will be used by more than one user or you have already existing performance problems - this is your first bet where to look for. But better look into it BEFORE you are going to develop your new application so avoiding the task to rewrite it all from the very start.
  • Licensing Information - different Oracle editions, additional options, look for them here.
  • Data Warehousing Guide - many interesting features not only related to data warehouses, like partitioning, materialized views, query rewrite and analytic functions.

Second step is to use existing resources.

If you cannot find answer to your question in documentation or you'd like to get some more examples and ideas you can take step two and look into various existing resources. All of them provide search facility, which you can use. Some of them are:
  • Asktom - questions and answers managed by Thomas Kyte, one of the brightest minds in Oracle.
  • Oracle FAQ - blogs, articles, forums and other resources by many Oracle professionals.
  • Usenet newsgroups - questions and answers about every Oracle aspect.
  • Metalink - official Oracle support site. Available only if you have valid support agreement.
  • Oracle Technology Network forums - Many Oracle ACEs answer questions right here.
  • Orana - aggregator of Oracle news and blogs.
  • Google - always worth to try to find answer using it.
  • Google directory oracle links.

Only the third step is to ask question yourself.

It is quite unbelievable but what if your question is sooo unique that you cannot find the answer for it? Then of course comes third step. Ask question yourself in one of the above mentioned resources OTN forum, Orafaq forum, Usenet newsgroups and hope that someone will answer it. Some suggestions how to ask question and get answer:
  • Find the right forum for your question.
  • Explain your problem. Other people are not familiar about your problems so give them necessary information, what is the problem, what Oracle product/functionality is affected, what are product versions (they really matter!).
  • Explain what you have done to solve it.
  • Don't assume anyone is obliged to answer you or your question is more urgent than other people's questions.
All these suggestions and many more are very well explained in this classic article How to ask questions the smart way by Eric Steven Raymond.

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