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Oracle DBA Interview Questions Answered: Technical

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60 Oracle Database Administration (DBA) Interview Questions (Technical)

1. What is an Oracle Instance?

An Oracle database server consists of an Oracle database and an Oracle instance. Every time a database is started, a system global area (SGA) is allocated and Oracle background processes are started. The combination of the background processes and memory buffers is called an Oracle instance. We can run multiple instances on the same Oracle Database Server, where each instance connects to its database.

Oracle instance includes:

SGA – System or Shared Global Area

Components of SGA:

  • DBBC – Database Buffer Cache
  • SP – Shared Pool; divided into Library Cache (LC) and Data Dictionary Cache (DDC) or Row Cache.
  • RLB – Redo log Buffer

Background Process (10/11g database):

Mandatory Processes

  • SMON – System Monitor
  • PMON – Process Monitor
  • DBWR – Database writer
  • LGWR – Log Writer
  • CKPT – Check point
  • RECO – Recoverer
  • DIAG – Diagnosability (new in 11g)
  • VKTM – Virtual keeper of time (keeps “SGA Time” variable in current, new in 11g)

Optional Process

  • ARCN – Archiver
  • MMAN – Memory Manager – ASMM
  • MMON – Memory Monitor
  • MMNL – Memory Monitor Light – AWR

and few more…

TIP: For a complete overview of Database 11g Architecture check out this poster: Database 11g Architecture Poster [2.74 MB]

List of running processes of a single instance (11g) on Linux:

[[email protected] ~]$ top -n 1 -U oracle -c
9181 oracle 15 0 745m 111m 109m S 6.9 7.5 1:11.15 ora_j000_DB1_SID
9163 oracle 16 0 745m 68m 65m S 5.3 4.6 0:11.95 ora_j001_DB1_SID
10420 oracle 18 0 744m 12m 11m R 3.0 0.8 0:00.09 ora_j002_DB1_SID
6773 oracle 16 0 748m 40m 34m S 0.7 2.7 0:03.16 ora_dbw0_DB1_SID
6775 oracle 16 0 759m 34m 33m S 0.7 2.4 0:10.74 ora_lgwr_DB1_SID
6767 oracle 15 0 744m 13m 11m S 0.3 0.9 0:02.17 ora_psp0_DB1_SID
6785 oracle 15 0 744m 19m 18m S 0.3 1.3 0:02.66 ora_mmnl_DB1_SID
6560 oracle 18 0 42048 9348 6788 S 0.0 0.6 0:00.86 tnslsnr LISTENER -inherit
6755 oracle 15 0 744m 16m 14m S 0.0 1.1 0:02.50 ora_pmon_DB1_SID
6757 oracle -2 0 744m 13m 11m S 0.0 0.9 0:04.31 ora_vktm_DB1_SID
6761 oracle 15 0 744m 13m 11m S 0.0 0.9 0:00.34 ora_gen0_DB1_SID
6763 oracle 18 0 744m 12m 11m S 0.0 0.9 0:00.53 ora_diag_DB1_SID
6765 oracle 15 0 744m 19m 18m S 0.0 1.3 0:00.59 ora_dbrm_DB1_SID
6769 oracle 18 0 744m 16m 14m S 0.0 1.1 0:07.11 ora_dia0_DB1_SID
6771 oracle 18 0 744m 17m 16m S 0.0 1.2 0:11.13 ora_mman_DB1_SID
6777 oracle 16 0 744m 16m 14m S 0.0 1.1 0:08.51 ora_ckpt_DB1_SID
6779 oracle 15 0 748m 87m 84m S 0.0 5.9 0:04.61 ora_smon_DB1_SID
6781 oracle 18 0 744m 18m 17m R 0.0 1.3 0:00.52 ora_reco_DB1_SID
6783 oracle 15 0 748m 56m 51m S 0.0 3.8 0:06.01 ora_mmon_DB1_SID
6787 oracle 15 0 744m 13m 11m S 0.0 0.9 0:00.35 ora_d000_DB1_SID
6789 oracle 15 0 744m 12m 11m S 0.0 0.8 0:00.31 ora_s000_DB1_SID
6852 oracle 18 0 744m 14m 13m S 0.0 1.0 0:00.40 ora_qmnc_DB1_SID
6859 oracle 15 0 744m 25m 23m S 0.0 1.7 0:00.53 ora_q000_DB1_SID
6864 oracle 18 0 744m 15m 14m S 0.0 1.0 0:00.21 ora_q001_DB1_SID
6983 oracle 15 0 748m 54m 48m S 0.0 3.7 0:05.40 ora_cjq0_DB1_SID
7141 oracle 15 0 744m 13m 12m S 0.0 0.9 0:00.26 ora_smco_DB1_SID
7722 oracle 16 0 753m 58m 55m S 0.0 4.0 0:07.64 oracleDB1_SID (LOCAL=NO)
10254 oracle 15 0 744m 14m 12m S 0.0 1.0 0:00.10 ora_w000_DB1_SID

2. What information is stored in Control File?

Oracle Database must have at least one control file. It’s a binary file contains some of the following information:

  • The database name and unique ID
  • The timestamp of database creation
  • The names and locations of associated datafiles and redo log files
  • Tablespace information
  • Datafile offline ranges
  • Archived log information and history
  • Backup set and backup piece information
  • Backup datafile and redo log information
  • Datafile copy information
  • Log records: sequence numbers, SCN range in each log
  • RMAN Catalog
  • Database block corruption information

The location of the control files is specified through the control_files init param:

[email protected]_SID SQL>show parameter control_file;
---------------------------- ----------- ------------------------------
control_file_record_keep_time integer 7
control_files string /u01/app/oracle/oradata/DB1_SID
/control01.ctl, /u01/app/oracl

3. When you start an Oracle DB which file is accessed first?

Oracle first opens and reads the initialization parameter file (init.ora)

[[email protected] ~]$ ls -la $ORACLE_HOME/dbs/initDB1_SID.ora 
-rw-r--r-- 1 oracle oinstall 1023 May 10 19:27 /u01/app/oracle/product/11.2.0/dbs/initDB1_SID.ora

4. What is the job of  SMON and PMON processes?

SMON – System Monitor Process – Performs recovery after instance failure, monitors temporary segments and extents; cleans temp segments, coalesces free space (mandatory process for DB and starts by default)

PMON – Process Monitor – Recovers failed process resources. In Shared Server architecture, monitors and retarts any failed dispatcher or server proceses (mandatory process for DB and starts by default)

[[email protected] ~]$ ps -ef |grep -e pmon -e smon |grep -v grep 
oracle 6755 1 0 12:59 ? 00:00:05 ora_pmon_DB1_SID oracle 6779 1 0 12:59 ? 00:00:06 ora_smon_DB1_SID

5. What is Instance Recovery?

While Oracle instance fails, Oracle performs an Instance Recovery when the associated database is being re-started.

Instance recovery occurs in two steps:

Cache recovery:

Changes being made to a database are recorded in the database buffer cache. These changes are also recorded in online redo log files simultaneously. When there are enough data in the database buffer cache,they are written to data files. If an Oracle instance fails before the data in the database buffer cache are written to data files, Oracle uses the data recorded in the online redo log files to recover the lost data when the associated database is re-started. This process is called cache recovery.

Transaction recovery:

When a transaction modifies data in a database, the before image of the modified data is stored in an undo segment. The data stored in the undo segment is used to restore the original values in case a transaction is rolled back. At the time of an instance failure, the database may have uncommitted transactions. It is possible that changes made by these uncommitted transactions have gotten saved in data files. To maintain read consistency, Oracle rolls back all uncommitted transactions when the associated database is re-started. Oracle uses the undo data stored in undo segments to accomplish this. This process is called transaction recovery.

6. What is being written into the Redo Log Files?

Redo log records all changes made in datafiles.

In the Oracle database, redo logs comprise files in a proprietary format which log a history of all changes made to the database. Each redo log file consists of redo records. A redo record, also called a redo entry, holds a group of change-vectors, each of which describes or represents a change made to a single block in the database.

Let’s get into this topic a little bit dipper:

Log writer (LGWR) writes redo log buffer contents Into Redo Log FIles. LGWR does this every three seconds, when the redo log buffer is 1/3 full and immediately before the Database Writer (DBWn) writes its changed buffers into the datafile. The redo log of a database consists of two or more redo log files. The database requires a minimum of two files to guarantee that one is always available for writing while the other is being archived (if the DB is in ARCHIVELOG mode). LGWR writes to redo log files in a circular fashion. When the current redo log file fills, LGWR begins writing to the next available redo log file. When the last available redo log file is filled, LGWR returns to the first redo log file and writes to it, starting the cycle again. Filled redo log files are available to LGWR for reuse depending on whether archiving is enabled.


If archiving is disabled (the database is in NOARCHIVELOG mode), a filled redo log file is available after the changes recorded in it have been written to the datafiles.

If archiving is enabled (the database is in ARCHIVELOG mode), a filled redo log file is available to LGWR after the changes recorded in it have been written to the datafiles and the file has been archived.

Oracle Database uses only one redo log files at a time to store redo records written from the redo log buffer. The redo log file that LGWR is actively writing to is called the current redo log file. Redo log files that are required for instance recovery are called active redo log files. Redo log files that are no longer required for instance recovery are called inactive redo log files.

If the database is in ARCHIVELOG mode it cannot reuse or overwrite an active online log file until one of the archiver background processes (ARCn) has archived its contents.

If archiving is disabled (DB is in NOARCHIVELOG mode), then when the last redo log file is full, LGWR continues by overwriting the first available active file.

A log switch is the point at which the database stops writing to one redo log file and begins writing to another. Normally, a log switch occurs when the current redo log file is completely filled and writing must continue to the next redo log file. However, you can configure log switches to occur at regular intervals, regardless of whether the current redo log file is completely filled. You can also force log switches manually.

Oracle Database assigns each redo log file a new log sequence number every time a log switch occurs and LGWR begins writing to it.

When the database archives redo log files, the archived log retains its log sequence number.

7. How do you control number of Datafiles one can have in an Oracle database?

The db_files parameter is a “soft limit ” parameter that controls the maximum number of physical OS files that can map to an Oracle instance. The maxdatafiles parameter is a different – “hard limit” parameter. When issuing a “create database” command, the value specified for maxdatafiles is stored in Oracle control files and default value is 32. The maximum number of database files can be set with the init parameter db_files.

8. How many Maximum Datafiles can there be in Oracle Database?

Regardless of the setting of this paramter, maximum per database: 65533 (May be less on some operating systems). Maximum number of datafiles per tablespace: OS dependent = usually 1022. Limited also by size of database blocks and by the DB_FILES initialization parameter for a particular instance. Bigfile tablespaces can contain only one file, but that file can have up to 4G blocks.

9. What is a Tablespace

A tablespace is a logical storage unit within an Oracle database. Tablespace is not visible in the file system of the machine on which the database resides. A tablespace, in turn, consists of at least one datafile which, in turn, are physically located in the file system of the server.

A datafile belongs to exactly one tablespace. Each table, index and so on that is stored in an Oracle database belongs to a tablespace. The tablespace builds the bridge between the Oracle database and the filesystem in which the table’s or index’ data is stored.

There are three types of tablespaces in Oracle:

  • Permanent tablespaces
  • Undo tablespaces
  • Temporary tablespaces

10. What is the purpose of Redo Log files?

Before Oracle changes data in a datafile it writes these changes to the redo log.

If something happens to one of the datafiles, a backed up datafile can be restored and the redo, that was written since, replied, which brings the datafile to the state it had before it became unavailable.

11. Which default Database roles are created when you create a Database?

CONNECT , RESOURCE and DBA are three default roles. The DBA_ROLES data dictionary view can be used to list all roles of a database and the authentication used for each role.

The following query lists all the roles in the database:

ROLE             PASSWORD 
---------------- -------- 

12. What is a Checkpoint?

A checkpoint occurs when the DBWR (database writer) process writes all modified buffers in the SGA buffer cache to the database data files. Data file headers are also updated with the latest checkpoint SCN, even if the file had no changed blocks. Checkpoints occur AFTER (not during) every redo log switch and also at intervals specified by initialization parameters.

Set parameter LOG_CHECKPOINTS_TO_ALERT=TRUE to observe checkpoint start and end times in the database alert log. Checkpoints can be forced with the ALTER SYSTEM CHECKPOINT; command.

SCN can refer to:

System Change Number – A number, internal to Oracle that is incremented over time as change vectors are generated, applied, and written to the Redo log.

System Commit Number – A number, internal to Oracle that is incremented with each database COMMIT.

Note: System Commit Numbers and System Change Numbers share the same internal sequence generator.

13. Which Process reads data from Datafiles?

Server Process – There is no background process which reads data from datafile or database buffer. Oracle creates server processes to handle requests from connected user processes. A server process communicates with the user process and interacts with Oracle to carry out requests from the associated user process. For example, if a user queries some data not already in the database buffers of the SGA, then the associated server process reads the proper data blocks from the datafiles into the SGA. Oracle can be configured to vary the number of user processes for each server process. In a dedicated server configuration, a server process handles requests for a single user process. A shared server configuration lets many user processes share a small number of server processes, minimizing the number of server processes and maximizing the use of available system resources.

14. Which Process writes data in Datafiles?

Database Writer background process DBWn (20 possible) writes dirty buffers from the buffer cache to the data files. In other words, this process writes modified blocks permanently to disk.

15. Can you make a Datafile auto extendible. If yes, how?

YES. A Datafile can be auto extendible.

Here’s how to enable auto extend on a Datafile:

SQL>alter database datafile '/u01/app/oracle/product/10.2.0/oradata/DBSID/EXAMPLE01.DBF' autoextend on;

Note: For tablespaces defined with multiple data files (and partitioned table files), only the “last” data file needs the autoextend option.

SQL>spool runts.sql

SQL>select 'alter database datafile '|| file_name|| ' '|| ' autoextend on;' from dba_data_files;


16. What is a Shared Pool?

The shared pool portion of the SGA contains the library cache, the dictionary cache, buffers for parallel execution messages, and control structures. The total size of the shared pool is determined by the initialization parameter SHARED_POOL_SIZE. The default value of this parameter is 8MB on 32-bit platforms and 64MB on 64-bit platforms. Increasing the value of this parameter increases the amount of memory reserved for the shared pool.

17. What is kept in the Database Buffer Cache?

The database buffer cache is the portion of the SGA that holds copies of data blocks read from datafiles. All user processes concurrently connected to the instance share access to the database buffer cache.

18. How many maximum Redo Logfiles one can have in a Database?

Maximum number of logfiles is limited by value of MAXLOGFILES parameter in the CREATE DATABASE statement. Control file can be resized to allow more entries; ultimately an operating system limit. Maximum number of logfiles per group – Unlimited

Consider the parameters that can limit the number of redo log files before setting up or altering the configuration of an instance redo log.

The following parameters limit the number of redo log files that you can add to a database: MAXLOGFILES & MAXLOGMEMBERS.

The MAXLOGFILES parameter used in the CREATE DATABASE statement determines the maximum number of groups of redo log files for each database. Group values can range from 1 to MAXLOGFILES.

When the compatibility level is set earlier than 10.2.0, the only way to override this upper limit is to re-create the database or its control file. Therefore, it is important to consider this limit before creating a database.

When compatibility is set to 10.2.0 or later, you can exceed the MAXLOGFILES limit, and the control files expand as needed.

If MAXLOGFILES is not specified for the CREATE DATABASE statement, then the database uses an operating system specific default value.

The MAXLOGMEMBERS parameter used in the CREATE DATABASE statement determines the maximum number of members for each group. As with MAXLOGFILES, the only way to override this upper limit is to re-create the database or control file. Therefore, it is important to consider this limit before creating a database.

If no MAXLOGMEMBERS parameter is specified for the CREATE DATABASE statement, then the database uses an operating system default value.

19. What is difference between PFile and SPFile?

A PFILE is a static, text file located in $ORACLE_HOME/dbs – UNIX

An SPFILE (Server Parameter File) is a persistent server-side binary file that can only be modified with the “ALTER SYSTEM SET” command.

20. What is PGA_AGGREGATE_TARGET parameter?

PGA_AGGREGATE_TARGET: specifies the target aggregate PGA memory available to all server processes attached to the instance.

21. Large Pool is used for what?

The large pool is an optional memory area and provides large memory allocations for:

  • Session memory for the shared server and the Oracle XA interface (used where transactions interact with more than one database)
  • I/O server processes, buffer area
  • Oracle backup and restore operations (RMAN)
  • User Global Area (UGA) for shared servers

22. What is PCT Increase setting?

PCTINCREASE refers to the percentage by which each next extent (beginning with the third extend) will grow. The size of each subsequent extent is equal to the size of the previous extent plus this percentage increase. Preventing tablespace fragmentation. Try to set PCTINCREASE to 0 or 100. Bizarre values for PCTINCREASE will contribute to fragmentation.

For example if you set PCTINCREASE to 1 you will see that your extents are going to have weird and wacky sizes: 100K, 100K, 101K, 102K, etc. Such extents of bizarre size are rarely re-used in their entirety.

PCTINCREASE of 0 or 100 gives you nice round extent sizes that can easily be reused. Eg. 100K, 100K, 200K, 400K, etc.

Locally Managed tablespaces (available from Oracle 8i onwards) with uniform extent sizes virtually eliminates any tablespace fragmentation.

Note that the number of extents per segment does not cause any performance issue anymore, unless they run into thousands and thousands where additional I/O may be required to fetch the additional blocks where extent maps of the segment are stored.

23. What is PCTFREE and PCTUSED Setting?

PCTFREE is a block storage parameter used to specify how much space should be left in a database block for future updates.

For example, for PCTFREE=10, Oracle will keep on adding new rows to a block until it is 90% full. This leaves 10% for future updates (row expansion).

When using Oracle Advanced Compression, Oracle will trigger block compression when the PCTFREE is reached. This eliminates holes created by row deletions and maximizes contiguous free space in blocks.

See the PCTFREE setting for a table:

SQL> SELECT pct_free FROM user_tables WHERE table_name = 'EMP';

PCTUSED is a block storage parameter used to specify when Oracle should consider a database block to be empty enough to be added to the freelist. Oracle will only insert new rows in blocks that is enqueued on the freelist.

For example, if PCTUSED=40, Oracle will not add new rows to the block unless sufficient rows are deleted from the block so that it falls below 40% empty.

24. What is Row Migration and Row Chaining?

Row Migration refers to rows that were moved to another blocks due to an update making them too large to fit into their original blocks.

Oracle will leave a forwarding pointer in the original block so indexes will still be able to “find” the row. Note that Oracle does not discriminate between chained and migrated rows, even though they have different causes. A chained row is a row that is too large to fit into a single database data block.

For example, if you use a 4KB blocksize for your database, and you need to insert a row of 8KB into it, Oracle will use 3 blocks and store the row in pieces.

Some conditions that will cause row chaining are:

  • Tables whose row size exceeds the blocksize
  • Tables with long and long raw columns are prone to having chained rows
  • Tables with more then 255 columns will have chained rows as Oracle break wide tables up into pieces.

Detecting row chaining:

This query will show how many chained (and migrated) rows each table has:

SQL>SELECT owner, table_name, chain_cnt FROM dba_tables WHERE chain_cnt > 0;

To see which rows are chained:


This will put the rows into the INVALID_ROWS table which is created by the utlvalid.sql script (located in $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin).

25. What is ORA-01555 – Snapshot Too Old error and how do you avoid it?

The ORA-01555 is caused by Oracle read consistency mechanism. If you have a long running SQL that starts at 11:30 AM, Oracle ensures that all rows are as they appeared at 11:30 AM, even if the query runs until noon! Oracles does this by reading the “before image” of changed rows from the online undo segments. If you have lots of updates, long running SQL and too small UNDO, the ORA-01555 error will appear. ORA-01555 error relates to insufficient undo storage or a too small value for the undo_retention parameter:

ORA-01555: snapshot too old: rollback segment number string with name “string” too small

Cause: Rollback records needed by a reader for consistent read are overwritten by other writers.

Action: If in Automatic Undo Management mode, increase the setting of UNDO_RETENTION. Otherwise, use larger rollback segments.

You can get an ORA-01555 error with a too-small undo_retention, even with a large undo tables. However, you can set a super-high value for undo_retention and still get an ORA-01555 error.

The ORA-01555 snapshot too old error can be addressed by several remedies:

  • Re-schedule long-running queries when the system has less DML load
  • Increasing the size of your rollback segment (undo) size
  • The ORA-01555 snapshot too old also relates to your setting for automatic undo retention
  • Don’t fetch between commits

more info: http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_ora_01555_snapshot_old.htm

26. What is a Locally Managed Tablespace?

Locally Managed Tablespace is a tablespace that record extent allocation in the tablespace header. Each tablespace manages it’s own free and used space within a bitmap structure stored in one of the tablespace’s data files.

Advantages of Locally Managed Tablespaces:

  • Eliminates the need for recursive SQL operations against the data dictionary (UET$ and FET$ tables)
  • Reduce contention on data dictionary tables (single ST enqueue)
  • Locally managed tablespaces eliminate the need to periodically coalesce free space (automatically tracks adjacent free space)
  • Changes to the extent bitmaps do not generate rollback information

27. Can you audit SELECT statements?

YES. But beware, you will need a storage mechanism to hold your SQL SELECT audits, a high data volume that can exceed the size of your whole database, everyday.

SQL SELECT auditing can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Oracle audit table command:  audit SELECT table by FRED by access;
  • Oracle Fined-grained Auditing

In a busy database, the volume of the SELECT audit trail could easily exceed the size of the database every data. Plus, all data in the audit trail must also be audited to see who has selected data from the audit trail.

28. What does DBMS_FGA package do?

The DBMS_FGA package provides fine-grained security functions. DBMS_FGA is a PL/SQL package used to define Fine Grain Auditing on objects.

DBMS_FGA Package Subprograms:

  • ADD_POLICY Procedure – Creates an audit policy using the supplied predicate as the audit condition
  • DISABLE_POLICY Procedure – Disables an audit policy
  • DROP_POLICY Procedure – Drops an audit policy
  • ENABLE_POLICY Procedure – Enables an audit policy

29. What is Cost Based Optimization?

The Oracle Cost Based Optimizer (CBO) is a SQL Query optimizer that uses data statistics to identify the query plan with lowest cost before execution. The cost is based on the number of rows in a table, index efficiency, etc. All applications should be converted to use the Cost Based Optimizer as the Rule Based Optimizer is not be supported in Oracle 10g and above releases.

30. How often you should collect statistics for a table?

Analyse if it’s necessary!

– Refresh STALE statistics before the batch processes run but only for tables involved in batch run,

– Don’t do it if you don’t have to.

– Oracle database has default, scheduled job “gather_stats_job” that analyses stats on a daily basis during the maintenance window time.

31. How do you collect statistics for a table, schema and Database?

Using DBMS_STATS package to gather Oracle dictionary statistics.

HOW-TO: https://emarcel.com/database/157-dbmsstats10g

32. Can you make collection of Statistics for tables automatically?

YES. Oracle databse has default, scheduled job “gather_stats_job” that analyses stats on a daily basis during the maintenance window time.

There are two scheduled activities related to the collection of Oracle “statistics”:

  • AWR statistics:  Oracle has an automatic method to collect AWR “snapshots” of data that is used to create elapsed-time performance reports.
  • Optimizer statistics:  Oracle has an automatic job to collect statistics to help the optimizer make intelligent decisions about the best access method to fetch the desired rows.

This job can be disabled with this command:

exec dbms_scheduler.disable(’SYS.GATHER_STATS_JOB’);

Oracle collects optimizer statistics for SQL via the default of autostats_target = auto.

33. On which columns you should create Indexes?

In general, you should create an index on a column in any of the following situations:

  • The column is queried frequently
  • A referential integrity constraint exists on the column
  • A UNIQUE key integrity constraint exists on the column

The following list gives guidelines in choosing columns to index:

  • You should create indexes on columns that are used frequently in WHERE clauses
  • Are used frequently to join tables
  • Are used frequently in ORDER BY clauses
  • On columns that have few of the same values or unique values in the table

34. What type of Indexes are available in Oracle?

There are many index types within Oracle:

B*Tree Indexes – common indexes in Oracle. They are similar construct to a binary tree, they provide fast access by key, to an individual row or range of rows, normally requiring very few reads to find the correct row.

The B*Tree index has several subtypes:

  • Index Organised Tables – A table stored in a B*Tree structure
  • B*Tree Cluster Indexes – They are used to index the cluster keys
  • Reverse Key Indexes – The bytes in the key are reversed. This is used to stop sequential keys being on the same block like 999001, 999002, 999003 would be reversed to 100999, 200999, 300999 thus these would be located on different blocks.
  • Descending Indexes – They allow data to be sorted from big to small (descending) instead of small to big (ascending).

Bitmap Indexes – With a bitmap index , a single index entry uses a bitmap to point to many rows simultaneously, they are used with low data that is mostly read-only. Schould be avoided in OLTP systems.

Function Based Indexes – These are B*Tree or bitmap indexes that store the computed result of a function on a row(s) (for example sorted results)- not the column data itself.

Application Domain Indexes – These are indexes you build and store yuorself, either in Oracle or outside of Oracle

interMedia Text Indexes – This is a specialised index built into Oracle to allow for keyword searching of large bodies of text.

35. What is B-Tree Index?

A B-Tree index is a data structure in the form of a tree, but it is a tree of database blocks, not rows.

Note: “B” is not for binary; it’s balanced.

36. A table is having few rows, should you create indexes on this table

Small tables do not require indexes; if a query is taking too long, then the table might have grown from small to large.

You can create an index on any column; however, if the column is not used in any of these situations, creating an index on the column does not increase performance and the index takes up resources unnecessarily.

37. A Column is having many repeated values which type of index you should create on this column, if you have to?

For example, assume there is a motor vehicle database with numerous low-cardinality columns such as car_color, car_make, car_model, and car_year. Each column contains less than 100 distinct values by themselves, and a b-tree index would be fairly useless in a database of 20 million vehicles.

38. When should you rebuilt indexes?

In 90% cases – NEVER.

When the data in index is sparse (lots of holes in index, due to deletes or updates) and your query is usually range based. Also index blevel is one of the key indicators of performance of sql queries doing Index range scans.

39. Can you built indexes online?

YES. You can create and rebuild indexes online.

This enables you to update base tables at the same time you are building or rebuilding indexes on that table. You can perform DML operations while the index build is taking place, but DDL operations are not allowed. Parallel execution is not supported when creating or rebuilding an index online.

The following statements illustrate online index build operations:

CREATE INDEX emp_name ON emp (mgr, emp1, emp2, emp3) ONLINE;


40. Can you see Execution Plan of a statement?

YES. In many ways, for example from GUI based tools like TOAD, Oracle SQL Developer.

Configuring AUTOTRACE, a SQL*Plus facility

AUTOTRACE is a facility within SQL*Plus to show us the explain plan of the queries we’ve executed, and the resources they used.

Once the PLAN_TABLE has been installed in the database, You can control the report by setting the AUTOTRACE system variable.

  • SET AUTOTRACE OFF – No AUTOTRACE report is generated. This is the default.
  • SET AUTOTRACE ON EXPLAIN – The AUTOTRACE report shows only the optimizer execution path.
  • SET AUTOTRACE ON STATISTICS – The AUTOTRACE report shows only the SQL statement execution statistics.
  • SET AUTOTRACE ON – The AUTOTRACE report includes both the optimizer execution path and the SQL statement execution statistics.
  • SET AUTOTRACE TRACEONLY – Like SET AUTOTRACE ON, but suppresses the printing of the user’s query output, if any.

41. A table has been created with below settings. What will be size of 4th extent?

storage (initial 200k 
         next 200k 
         minextents 2
         maxextents 100
         pctincrease 40

What will be size of 4th extent?

“NEXT” Specify in bytes the size of the next extent to be allocated to the object.

Percent Increase allows your segment to grow at an increasing rate.

The first two extents will be of a size determined by the Initial and Next parameter (200k)

The third extent will be 1 + PCTINCREASE/100 times the second extent (1,4*200=280k).

AND The fourth extent will be 1 + PCTINCREASE/100 times the third extent (1,4*280=392k!!!), and so on…

42. What is DB Buffer Cache Advisor?

The Buffer Cache Advisor provides advice on how to size the Database Buffer Cache to obtain optimal cache hit ratios.

Member of Performance Advisors –> Memory Advisor pack.

43. What is STATSPACK tool?

STATSPACK is a performance diagnosis tool provided by Oracle starting from Oracle 8i and above. STATSPACK is a diagnosis tool for instance-wide performance problems; it also supports application tuning activities by providing data which identifies high-load SQL statements. Although AWR and ADDM (introduced in Oracle 10g) provide better statistics than STATSPACK, users that are not licensed to use the Enterprise Manager Diagnostic Pack should continue to use statspack.

More information about STATSPACK, can be found in file:


44. Can you change SHARED_POOL_SIZE online?

YES. That’s possible.

SQL>alter system set shared_pool_size=500M scope=both;

System altered.

It’s a lot quicker to bounce the instance when changing this.

45. Can you Redefine a table Online?

Yes you can. In any database system, it is occasionally necessary to modify the logical or physical structure of a table to:

  • Improve the performance of queries or DML
  • Accommodate application changes
  • Manage storage

Oracle Database provides a mechanism to make table structure modifications without significantly affecting the availability of the table.

The mechanism is called online table redefinition.

When a table is redefined online, it is accessible to both queries and DML during much of the redefinition process.

The table is locked in the exclusive mode only during a very small window that is independent of the size of the table and complexity of the redefinition, and that is completely transparent to users.

Online table redefinition requires an amount of free space that is approximately equivalent to the space used by the table being redefined. More space may be required if new columns are added.

You can perform online table redefinition with the Enterprise Manager Reorganize Objects wizard or with the DBMS_REDEFINITION package.

46. Can you assign Priority to users?

YES. This is achievable with Oracle Resource Manager.

DBMS_RESOURCE_MANAGER is the packcage to administer the Database Resource Manager.

The DBMS_RESOURCE_MANAGER package maintains plans, consumer groups, and plan directives. It also provides semantics so that you may group together changes to the plan schema.

47. You want users to change their passwords every 2 months. How do you enforce this?

Oracle password security is implemented via Oracle “profiles” which are assigned to users.

PASSWORD_LIFE_TIME – limits the number of days the same password can be used for authentication.

First, start by creating security “profile” in Oracle database and then alter the user to belong to the profile group.

1) creating a profile:

create profile all_users




2) Create user and assign user to the all_users profile

SQL>create user chuck identified by norris profile all_users;


3) To “alter profile” parameter, say; change to three months:

SQL>alter profile all_users set PASSWORD_LIFE_TIME = 90;


48. How do you delete duplicate rows in a table?

There is a few ways to achieve that:

  • Using subquery to delete duplicate rows:
DELETE FROM table_name WHERE rowid NOT IN (SELECT max(rowid) FROM table_name GROUP BY id);
More ways:
  • Use RANK to find and remove duplicate table rows
  • Use self-join to remove duplicate rows
  • Use analytics to detect and remove duplicate rows
  • Delete duplicate table rows that contain NULL values

source: http://www.dba-oracle.com/t_delete_duplicate_table_rows.htm

49. What is Automatic Management of Segment Space setting?

Oracle9i New Feature Series: Automatic Segment Space Management

Automatic Segment Space Management (ASSM) introduced in Oracle9i is an easier way of managing space in a segment using bitmaps.

It eliminates the DBA from setting the parameters pctused, freelists, and freelist groups.

ASSM can be specified only with the locally managed tablespaces (LMT).

Oracle uses bitmaps to manage the free space. Bitmaps allow Oracle to manage free space more automatically.

Here is an example:


DATAFILE ‘/oradata/ORA_SID/example01.dbf’ SIZE 50M



The storage parameters PCTUSED, FREELISTS and FREELIST GROUPS specified while creating a table are ignored by Oracle on a LMT ASSM tablespace. Oracle does not produce an error.

One huge benefit of having ASSM is to reduce the “Buffer Busy Waits” you see on segments.


Using ASSM can hinder database DML performance, and most Oracle experts will use manual freelists and freelist groups.

50. What is the difference between DELETE and TRUNCATE statements?

The DELETE command is used to remove rows from a table. A WHERE clause can be used to only remove some rows.

If no WHERE condition is specified, all rows will be removed. After performing a DELETE operation you need to COMMIT or ROLLBACK the transaction to make the change permanent or to undo it.

DELETE will cause all DELETE triggers on the table to fire.

TRUNCATE removes all rows from a table. A WHERE clause is not permited. The operation cannot be rolled back and no triggers will be fired.

As such, TRUCATE is faster and doesn’t use as much undo space as a DELETE.

51. What is COMPRESS and CONSISTENT setting in EXPORT utility?


Simply: COMPRESS=n – Allocated space in database for imported table will be exactly as the space required to hold the data.

COMPRESS=y – The INITIAL extent of the table would be as large as the sum of all the extents allocated to the table in the original database.

In other words:

The default, COMPRESS=y, causes Export to flag table data for consolidation into one initial extent upon import.

If extent sizes are large (for example, because of the PCTINCREASE parameter), the allocated space will be larger than the space required to hold the data.

If you specify COMPRESS=n, Export uses the current storage parameters, including the values of initial extent size and next extent size.

If you are using locally managed tablespaces you should always export with COMPRESS=n

An example: http://oracleadmins.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/understanding-compress-parameter-in-export


Default: n. Specifies whether or not Export uses the SET TRANSACTION READ ONLY statement to ensure that the data seen by Export is consistent to a single point in time and does not change during the execution of the exp command.

You should specify CONSISTENT=y when you anticipate that other applications will be updating the target data after an export has started.

If you use CONSISTENT=n, each table is usually exported in a single transaction. However, if a table contains nested tables, the outer table and each inner table are exported as separate transactions.

If a table is partitioned, each partition is exported as a separate transaction.

Therefore, if nested tables and partitioned tables are being updated by other applications, the data that is exported could be inconsistent. To minimize this possibility, export those tables at a time when updates are not being done.

52. What is the difference between Direct Path and Conventional Path loading?

A conventional path load executes SQL INSERT statements to populate tables in an Oracle database.

A direct path load eliminates much of the Oracle database overhead by formatting Oracle data blocks and writing the data blocks directly to the database files.

more info:


53. Can you disable and enable Primary key?

You can use the ALTER TABLE statement to enable, disable, modify, or drop a constraint.

When the database is using a UNIQUE or PRIMARY KEY index to enforce a constraint, and constraints associated with that index are dropped or disabled, the index is dropped, unless you specify otherwise.

While enabled foreign keys reference a PRIMARY or UNIQUE key, you cannot disable or drop the PRIMARY or UNIQUE key constraint or the index.

Disabling Enabled Constraints

The following statements disable integrity constraints. The second statement specifies that the associated indexes are to be kept.



The following statements enable novalidate disabled integrity constraints:



The following statements enable or validate disabled integrity constraints:



The following statements enable disabled integrity constraints:




To disable or drop a UNIQUE key or PRIMARY KEY constraint and all dependent FOREIGN KEY constraints in a single step, use the CASCADE option of the DISABLE or DROP clauses.

For example, the following statement disables a PRIMARY KEY constraint and any FOREIGN KEY constraints that depend on it:



54. What is an Index Organized Table?

An index-organized table (IOT) is a type of table that stores data in a B*Tree index structure. Normal relational tables, called heap-organized tables, store rows in any order (unsorted). In contrast to this, index-organized tables store rows in a B-tree index structure that is logically sorted in primary key order. Unlike normal primary key indexes, which store only the columns included in it definition, IOT indexes store all the columns of the table (an exception to this rule – is being called the overflow area).

Properties and restrictions:

  • An IOT must contain a primary key
  • Rows are accessed via a logical rowid and not a physical rowid like in heap-organized tables
  • An IOT cannot be in a cluster
  • An IOT cannot contain a column of LONG data type
  • You cannot modify an IOT index property using ALTER INDEX (error ORA-25176), you must use an ALTER TABLE instead.

Advantages of an IOT

  • As an IOT has the structure of an index and stores all the columns of the row, accesses via primary key conditions are faster as they don’t need to access the table to get additional column values.
  • As an IOT has the structure of an index and is thus sorted in the order of the primary key, accesses of a range of primary key values are also faster.
  • As the index and the table are in the same segment, less storage space is needed.
  • In addition, as rows are stored in the primary key order, you can further reduce space with key compression.
  • As all indexes on an IOT uses logical rowids, they will not become unusable if the table is reorganized.

Row overflow area

If some columns of the table are infrequently accessed, it is possible to offload them into another segment named the overflow area. An overflow segment will decrease the size of the main (or top) segment and will increase the performance of statements that do not need access the columns in the overflow area.


The overflow area can contains only columns that are not part of the primary key.

If a row cannot fit in a block, you must define an overflow area.

Consequently, the primary key values of an IOT must fit in a single block.

The columns of the table that are recorded in the overflow segment are defined using the PCTHRESHOLD and/or INCLUDING options of the OVERFLOW clause (examples on source website).

source: http://www.orafaq.com/wiki/Index-organized_table

55. What is a Global Index and Local Index?

Local  Index – each partition of a local index is associated with exactly one partition of the table.

Global Index – global index is associated with multiple partitions of the table.

Oracle offers two types of global partitioned index:

– Global Range Partitioned Indexes

– Global Hash Partitioned Indexes

Global Nonpartitioned Indexes – behave just like a nonpartitioned index.

56. What is the difference between Range Partitioning and Hash Partitioning?

Range Partitioning maps data to partitions based on a range of column values (e.g. a date column)

Hash Partitioning maps data to partitions based on a hashing algorithm, evenly distributing data between the partitions. This is typically used where ranges aren’t appropriate, i.e. customer number, product ID

57. What is difference between Multithreaded/Shared Server and Dedicated Server?

Oracle Database creates server processes to handle the requests of user processes connected to an instance.

A server process can be either of the following:

– A dedicated server process, which services only one user process

– A shared server process, which can service multiple user processes

Your database is always enabled to allow dedicated server processes, but you must specifically configure and enable shared server by setting one or more initialization parameters.

58. Can you import objects from Oracle ver. 7.3 to 9i?

Different versions of the import utility are upwards compatible. This means that one can take an export file created from an old export version, and import it using a later version of the import utility.

Oracle also ships some previous catexpX.sql scripts that can be executed as user SYS enabling older imp/exp versions to work (for backwards compatibility).

For example, one can run $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin/catexp7.sql on an Oracle 8 database to allow the Oracle 7.3 exp/imp utilities to run against an Oracle 8 database.


59. How do you move tables from one tablespace to another tablespace?

There are several methods to do this;

1) export the table, drop the table, create the table definition in the new

tablespace, and then import the data (imp ignore=y).

2) Create a new table in the new tablespace with the CREATE TABLE statement AS SELECT all from source table

SQL Statement:

CREATE TABLE temp_name TABLESPACE new_tablespace AS SELECT * FROM source_table;

Then drop the original table and rename the temporary table as the original:

DROP TABLE real_table;

RENAME temp_name TO real_table;

Note: don’t forget to rebuild any indexes.

60. How to display how much space is used and free in a tablespace?

Example query to check free and used space per tablespace:

  /* + RULE */
  df.tablespace_name "Tablespace", df.bytes / (1024 * 1024) "Size (MB)",
  SUM(fs.bytes)                             / (1024 * 1024) "Free (MB)", NVL(
  ROUND(SUM(fs.bytes)                       * 100 / df.bytes),1) "% Free",
  ROUND((df.bytes                           - SUM(fs.bytes)) * 100 / df.bytes)
  "% Used"
FROM dba_free_space fs,
    SELECT tablespace_name,SUM(bytes) bytes
    FROM dba_data_files
    GROUP BY tablespace_name
WHERE fs.tablespace_name (+) = df.tablespace_name
GROUP BY df.tablespace_name,df.bytes
  /* + RULE */
  df.tablespace_name tspace, fs.bytes / (1024 * 1024),
  SUM(df.bytes_free)                  / (1024 * 1024), NVL(ROUND((SUM(fs.bytes)
                                      - df.bytes_used) * 100 / fs.bytes), 1),
  ROUND((SUM(fs.bytes)                - df.bytes_free) * 100 / fs.bytes)
FROM dba_temp_files fs,
    SELECT tablespace_name,bytes_free,
    FROM v$temp_space_header
    GROUP BY tablespace_name,bytes_free,
WHERE fs.tablespace_name (+) = df.tablespace_name
GROUP BY df.tablespace_name,fs.bytes,

Sample output:

Tablespace Size (MB) Free (MB) % Free % Used 
------------------------------ ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- 
UNDOTBS1 65 17.8125 27 73 
EXAMPLE 100 22.625 23 77 
USERS 5 1.0625 21 79 
TEMP 20 2 10 90 
SYSAUX 625.125 54.5 9 91 
SYSTEM 700 9.0625 1 99


That’s all Folks!

View Also: Oracle DBA Interview Questions Answered: UNIX

Good luck during interview!

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