By Franck Pachot

Do you use ARCHIVELOG DELETION POLICY TO APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY for your Oracle databases in Data Guard? Maybe you also use the Fast Recovery Area as archive log destination. That’s good practice! But did you ever check that it works as expected?

What I mean is this:

  • The archived logs that you don’t need are reclaimable by the FRA when space is needed
  • And the archived logs that are required for availability (standby or backup) are not deleted.

It’s not an easy thing to check because Oracle doesn’t show which archive log is reclaimable. Only the total reclaimable space is shown in v$recovery_area_usage. But that is not sufficient to validate which archivelog sequence is concerned. I’ll show you below a query that returns the reclaimable status from the archived logs. And you will see that until 12c the APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY does not work as expected. You’ve probably seen a FRA full at standby site and solved it by deleting archived logs. But this is not the right solution because the FRA is supposed to do that.

Let’s look at an example I encountered recently. The archivelog deletion policy is set correctly:

RMAN> show archivelog deletion policy; 
RMAN configuration parameters for database with db_unique_name DATABASE_SITE2 are: 

This configuration, an 11g feature, allows to delete an archive log as soon as it is applied to all standby destinations. Note that it works if I manually do a ‘delete archivelog all;’ but I expect that the archivelogs in the FRA becomes reclaimable automatically.

Unfortunately, this is not the case and the FRA is growing:

SQL> select * from v$recovery_area_usage where file_type='ARCHIVED LOG'; 
-------------------- ------------------ ------------------------- --------------- 
ARCHIVED LOG                      61.11                     43.02             467

Let’s check everything. We are on the standby database:

SQL> select open_mode,database_role from v$database; 
-------------------- ---------------- 

The archivelogs are going to the Fast Recovery Area:

SQL> show parameter log_archive_dest_1 
NAME                                 TYPE        VALUE 
------------------------------------ ----------- ------------------------------ 
log_archive_dest_1                   string      location=USE_DB_RECOVERY_FILE_ 
                                                 DEST, valid_for=(ALL_LOGFILES, 

All archived logs are applied (we are in SYNC AFFIRM):

DGMGRL> show database 'DATABASE_SITE2'; 
Database - DATABASE_SITE2 
  Role:            PHYSICAL STANDBY 
  Intended State:  APPLY-ON 
  Transport Lag:   0 seconds 
  Apply Lag:       0 seconds 
  Real Time Query: OFF 
Database Status: 

Well, with that configuration, I expect that all archivelogs are reclaimable – except the current one.

Let’s investigate. V$RECOVERY_AREA_USAGE is an aggregate view. If we check its definition, we see that the reclaimable size comes from x$kccagf.rectype.

So I’ll use it in in conjunction with v$archived_log in order to give the detail about which archived logs are reclaimable:

SQL> select applied,deleted,decode(rectype,11,'YES','NO') reclaimable
     from v$archived_log left outer join sys.x$kccagf using(recid) 
     where is_recovery_dest_file='YES' and name is not null 
     group by applied,deleted,decode(rectype,11,'YES','NO') order by 5 
--------- ------- ----------- ---------- -------------- -------------- 
YES       NO      YES                429           5938           6366 
YES       NO      NO                  37           6367           6403 
IN-MEMORY NO      NO                   1           6404           6404

The problem is there: Because of a bug (Bug 14227959 : STANDBY DID NOT RELEASE SPACE IN FRA) the archivelogs are not marked as reclaimable when the database is in mount mode.

The workaround is to execute dbms_backup_restore.refreshagedfiles. This is what must be scheduled (maybe daily) on the standby. It can be a good idea to do it at the same time as a daily ‘delete obsolete’, so here is the way to call it from RMAN:

RMAN> sql "begin dbms_backup_restore.refreshagedfiles; end;";

But I’ve found another workaround: just run the CONFIGURE ARCHIVELOG POLICY from RMAN as it refreshes the reclaimable flag – even when there is no change.

Then, you can run a daily job that does CONFIGURE ARCHIVELOG DELETION POLICY TO APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY on your database, whatever the role is.

It’s different for the database where you do the backup, because you want to be sure that the backup is done before an archivelog is deleted: CONFIGURE ARCHIVELOG DELETION POLICY TO APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY BACKED UP 1 TIMES TO DISK;

This is a good way to prevent anyone from changing the configuration and keep it close to the backup scripts. At dbi services, we advise to keep the same configuration on all Data Guard sites for the same database so that a switchover can be done without any problem. For this reason, having a script that depends on the place where the backups are done is a better alternative than a configuration that depends on the database role.

Finally, here is the state of our reclaimable archivelogs after any of these solutions:

--------- ------- ----------- ---------- -------------- -------------- 
YES       NO      YES                466           5938           6403 
IN-MEMORY NO      NO                   1           6404           6404 
-------------------- ------------------ ------------------------- --------------- 
ARCHIVED LOG                      61.11                     61.09             467

All applied archived logs are reclaimable and the FRA will never be full.
You can check the primary as well. Are you sure that Oracle will never delete an archived log that has not been backed up ? Check your deletion policy.
Here is the full query I use for that:

column deleted format a7 
column reclaimable format a11 
set linesize 120 
select applied,deleted,backup_count 
 ,decode(rectype,11,'YES','NO') reclaimable,count(*) 
 ,to_char(min(completion_time),'dd-mon hh24:mi') first_time 
 ,to_char(max(completion_time),'dd-mon hh24:mi') last_time 
 ,min(sequence#) first_seq,max(sequence#) last_seq 
from v$archived_log left outer join sys.x$kccagf using(recid) 
where is_recovery_dest_file='YES' 
group by applied,deleted,backup_count,decode(rectype,11,'YES','NO') order by min(sequence#) 

This is the result on primary where the last archivelog backup has run around 21:00

--------- ------- ------------ ----------- -------- ------------ ------------ --------- -------- 
NO        YES                1 NO               277 15-jan 17:56 19-jan 09:49      5936     6212 
NO        NO                 1 YES              339 19-jan 10:09 22-jan 21:07      6213     6516 
NO        NO                 0 NO                33 22-jan 21:27 23-jan 07:57      6517     6549

That is fine according to my policy APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY BACKED UP 1 TIMES TO DISK
And here is the result on standby where the workaround job has run around 06:00 and redo apply is in SYNC

--------- ------- ------------ ----------- -------- ------------ ------------ --------- -------- 
YES       YES                0 NO               746 07-jan 13:27 17-jan 11:17      5320     6065 
YES       NO                 0 YES              477 17-jan 11:37 23-jan 05:37      6066     6542 
YES       NO                 0 NO                 8 23-jan 05:57 23-jan 08:14      6543     6550 
IN-MEMORY NO                 0 NO                 1 23-jan 08:15 23-jan 08:15      6551     6551

This is good for my policy APPLIED ON ALL STANDBY – except that because of the bug mentioned above, redo applied since 06:00 are not yet reclaimable.

Update SEP-17

When troubleshooting archivelog deletion policy issue, here is a better query which counts the number of backups for each sequence:

set linesize 200 pagesize 1000
column is_recovery_dest_file format a21
 deleted,status,is_recovery_dest_file,thread#,min(sequence#),max(sequence#),min(first_time),max(next_time),count(distinct sequence#),archived,applied,backup_count,count("x$kccagf")
from (
select deleted,thread#,sequence#,status,name ,first_time, next_time,case x$kccagf.rectype when 11 then recid end  "x$kccagf"
,count(case archived when 'YES' then 'YES' end)over(partition by thread#,sequence#) archived
,count(case applied when 'YES' then 'YES' end)over(partition by thread#,sequence#) applied
,sum(backup_count)over(partition by thread#,sequence#) backup_count
,listagg(is_recovery_dest_file||':'||dest_id,',')within group(order by dest_id)over(partition by thread#,sequence#) is_recovery_dest_file
from v$archived_log left outer join sys.x$kccagf using(recid)
) group by deleted,status,is_recovery_dest_file,thread#,archived,applied,backup_count
order by max(sequence#),min(sequence#),thread#,deleted desc,status;

With the following output:

--- - --------------------- ---------- -------------- -------------- --------- --------- ------------------------ ---------- ---------- ------------ -----------------
NO  A YES:1                          1           3233           3233 23-JUN-17 23-JUN-17                        1          1          0            1                 1
NO  A YES:1,NO:2                     1           3234           5387 23-JUN-17 21-JUL-17                     2154          2          1            1              2154
NO  A YES:1,NO:2                     1           5388          11596 21-JUL-17 10-OCT-17                     6209          2          1            0              6208
NO  A YES:1,NO:2                     1          11597          11597 10-OCT-17 10-OCT-17                        1          2          0            0                 0