Speeding-Up Oracle Export/Import Migration

2 min read
Nov 10, 2006

Or, How To Become an Export/Import Migration Superstar!

We’ve already established that I like broccoli. I get the taste from my dad who takes it with a glob a salad dressing and munches on it. It beats munching on Doritos. He and I both also do this with cucumbers. I don’t get it, but it tastes good and I know I’ll get a real kick out of it if I see my kids doing this someday too. In any case, one thing my dad doesn’t do is work with Oracle, and sadly, because of this, he’ll never get to add the Export/Import superstar trophy to his collection.

Over the last weekend I had the pleasure (I say pleasure because this was actually a very smooth operation) to do an 8i -> 10g, Solaris -> Linux migration. Talk about going in head–first. Now, whenever I run into a situation like this, we generally recommend a two–step process so that we can iron out bugs and be able to isolate causes. However, we were under serious time constraints, and we decided to just go with the following simple plan and move straight there. I had plenty of salad dressing to keep me company overnight.

Step 1 – export
Step 2 – import data
Step 3 – import everything else

That was the plan. We tried this a few times and when I finally had all the indexes etc. where I wanted them on the new server, and since we did some minor storage rejigging, I actually took a norows there and used that on the object import.

Now for the fun part. Typically, if you stick with a standard export/import, it’ll take you say… 10 hours. That’s what it usually took me. 30GB of data and 30GB of indexes. Now, you may ask, what makes me a superstar? Well, the fact that I dropped this down to about 5 hours, that’s what. This assumes you have big pages set up and Oracle able to address the space for a massive SGA.

The tricks:

  1. Assuming a full export, use direct=y if you’re not using any predicates in the export.
  2. Set your buffer to be big (10MB at least).
    Now the good stuff:
  3. Alter all your constraints novalidate prior to export if you can bring the app down, and if you can take a consistent export. This helps in reinstating the constraints instantly without forcing Oracle to validate constraints on massive tables
  4. I set workarea_size_policy=manual
  5. Set sort_area_size=6GB (yes, 6 GB). Combined with 4, it let Oracle build indexes with more space in memory for all the sorts without the need to spill to disk.
  6. Set massive online redo logs at 2GB each, 2 members each, 6 groups.

After the import, I reset everything back down to “normal”. The beauty of this migration was that the the client gave us a significant window of downtime. I cannot stress how much this actually reduces the complexity of the whole operation, and reduces the time needed to verify that everything works. Yay! for clients who provide realistic migration windows, and yay! for less complexity and effort (which equates to cost for all you business–y people) in migration windows.

I’m happy, and the client is happy, and I still have some cucumbers and broccoli left for breakfast.

P.S.: To add to the list of export/import deficiencies and problems — you should note that function–based indexes need to be created manually.

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