Skip Headers

Oracle® Database Administrator's Guide
10g Release 1 (10.1)

Part Number B10739-01
Go to Documentation Home
Go to Book List
Book List
Go to Table of Contents
Go to Index
Go to Master Index
Master Index
Go to Feedback page

Go to previous page
Go to next page
View PDF

21 Detecting and Repairing Data Block Corruption

This chapter explains using the DBMS_REPAIR PL/SQL package to repair data block corruption in database schema objects. It contains the following topics:

Options for Repairing Data Block Corruption

Oracle Database provides different methods for detecting and correcting data block corruption. One method of correction is to drop and re-create an object after the corruption is detected. However, this is not always possible or desirable. If data block corruption is limited to a subset of rows, another option is to rebuild the table by selecting all data except for the corrupt rows.

Yet another way to manage data block corruption is to use the DBMS_REPAIR package. You can use DBMS_REPAIR to detect and repair corrupt blocks in tables and indexes. Using this approach, you can address corruptions where possible, and also continue to use objects while you attempt to rebuild or repair them.


Any corruption that involves the loss of data requires analysis and understanding of how that data fits into the overall database system. DBMS_REPAIR is not a magic wand. You must still determine whether the repair approach provided by this package is the appropriate tool for each specific corruption problem. Depending on the nature of the repair, you might lose data and logical inconsistencies can be introduced. Thus, you must weigh the gains and losses associated with using DBMS_REPAIR.

About the DBMS_REPAIR Package

This section describes the procedures contained in the DBMS_REPAIR package and notes some limitations and restrictions on their use.

See Also:

PL/SQL Packages and Types Reference for more information on the syntax, restrictions, and exceptions for the DBMS_REPAIR procedures

DBMS_REPAIR Procedures

The following table lists the procedures included in the DBMS_REPAIR package.

Procedure Name Description
CHECK_OBJECT Detects and reports corruptions in a table or index
FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS Marks blocks (that were previously identified by the CHECK_OBJECT procedure) as software corrupt
DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS Reports index entries (into an orphan key table) that point to rows in corrupt data blocks
REBUILD_FREELISTS Rebuilds the free lists of the object
SEGMENT_FIX_STATUS Provides the capability to fix the corrupted state of a bitmap entry when segment space management is AUTO
SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS When used, ignores blocks marked corrupt during table and index scans. If not used, you get error ORA-1578 when encountering blocks marked corrupt.
ADMIN_TABLES Provides administrative functions (create, drop, purge) for repair or orphan key tables.

Note: These tables are always created in the SYS schema.

These procedures are further described, with examples of their use, in "DBMS_REPAIR Examples".

Limitations and Restrictions

DBMS_REPAIR procedures have the following limitations:

  • Tables with LOBs, nested tables, and varrays are supported, but the out of line columns are ignored.

  • Clusters are supported in the SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS and REBUILD_FREELISTS procedures, but not in the CHECK_OBJECT procedure.

  • Index-organized tables and LOB indexes are not supported.

  • The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure does not operate on bitmap indexes or function-based indexes.

  • The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure processes keys that are, at most, 3,950 bytes long.

Using the DBMS_REPAIR Package

The following approach is recommended when considering DBMS_REPAIR for addressing data block corruption:

These tasks are discussed in succeeding sections.

Task 1: Detect and Report Corruptions

Your first task, before using DBMS_REPAIR, should be the detection and reporting of corruptions. Reporting not only indicates what is wrong with a block, but also identifies the associated repair directive. You have several options, in addition to DBMS_REPAIR, for detecting corruptions. Table 21-1 describes the different detection methodologies.

Table 21-1 Comparison of Corruption Detection Methods

Detection Method Description
DBMS_REPAIR Performs block checking for a specified table, partition, or index. Populates a repair table with results.
DB_VERIFY External command-line utility that performs block checking on an offline database.
ANALYZE Used with the VALIDATE STRUCTURE option, verifies the integrity of the structure of an index, table, or cluster; checks or verifies that your tables and indexes are in sync.
DB_BLOCK_CHECKING Performed when the initialization parameter DB_BLOCK_CHECKING=TRUE. Identifies corrupt blocks before they actually are marked corrupt. Checks are performed when changes are made to a block.


The CHECK_OBJECT procedure checks and reports block corruptions for a specified object. Similar to the ANALYZE ... VALIDATE STRUCTURE statement for indexes and tables, block checking is performed for index and data blocks.

Not only does CHECK_OBJECT report corruptions, but it also identifies any fixes that would occur if FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS is subsequently run on the object. This information is made available by populating a repair table, which must first be created by the ADMIN_TABLES procedure.

After you run the CHECK_OBJECT procedure, a simple query on the repair table shows the corruptions and repair directives for the object. With this information, you can assess how best to address the problems reported.

DB_VERIFY: Performing an Offline Database Check

Typically, you use DB_VERIFY as an offline diagnostic utility when you encounter data corruption problems.

See Also:

Oracle Database Utilities for more information about DB_VERIFY

ANALYZE: Corruption Reporting

The ANALYZE TABLE ... VALIDATE STRUCTURE statement validates the structure of the analyzed object. If the database successfully validates the structure, a message confirming its validation is returned to you. If the database encounters corruption in the structure of the object, an error message is returned to you. In this case, drop and re-create the object.

See Also:

Oracle Database SQL Reference for more information about the ANALYZE statement

DB_BLOCK_CHECKING (Block Checking Initialization Parameter)

You can set block checking for instances using the DB_BLOCK_CHECKING initialization parameter (the default value is FALSE). This checks data and index blocks whenever they are modified. DB_BLOCK_CHECKING is a dynamic parameter, modifiable by the ALTER SYSTEM SET statement. Block checking is always enabled for the system tablespace.

See Also:

Oracle Database Reference for more information about the DB_BLOCK_CHECKING initialization parameter

Task 2: Evaluate the Costs and Benefits of Using DBMS_REPAIR

Before using DBMS_REPAIR you must weigh the benefits of its use in relation to the liabilities. You should also examine other options available for addressing corrupt objects. Begin by answering the following questions:

  • What is the extent of the corruption?

    To determine if there are corruptions and repair actions, execute the CHECK_OBJECT procedure, and query the repair table.

  • What other options are available for addressing block corruptions? Consider the following:

    • If the data is available from another source, then drop, re-create, and repopulate the object.

    • Issue the CREATE TABLE ... AS SELECT statement from the corrupt table to create a new one.

    • Ignore the corruption by excluding corrupt rows from select statements.

    • Perform media recovery.

  • What logical corruptions or side effects are introduced when you use DBMS_REPAIR to make an object usable? Can these be addressed? What is the effort required to do so?

    It is possible that you do not have access to rows in blocks marked corrupt. However, a block could be marked corrupt even though there are still rows that you can validly access.

    It is also possible that referential integrity constraints are broken when blocks are marked corrupt. If this occurs, disable and reenable the constraint; any inconsistencies are reported. After fixing all problems, you should be able to successfully reenable the constraint.

    Logical corruption can occur when there are triggers defined on the table. For example, if rows are reinserted, should insert triggers be fired or not? You can address these issues only if you understand triggers and their use in your installation.

    Free list blocks can become inaccessible. If a corrupt block is at the head or tail of a free list, space management reinitializes the free list. There then can be blocks that should be on a free list, but are not. You can address this by running the REBUILD_FREELISTS procedure.

    Indexes and tables are out of sync. You can address this by first executing the DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure (to obtain information from the keys that might be useful in rebuilding corrupted data). Then issue the ALTER INDEX ... REBUILD ONLINE statement to get the table and its indexes back in sync.

  • If repair involves loss of data, can this data be retrieved?

    You can retrieve data from the index when a data block is marked corrupt. The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure can help you retrieve this information. Of course, retrieving data in this manner depends on the amount of redundancy between the indexes and the table.

Task 3: Make Objects Usable

In this task DBMS_REPAIR makes the object usable by ignoring corruptions during table and index scans.

Corruption Repair: Using the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS and SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS Procedures

You make a corrupt object usable by establishing an environment that skips corruptions that remain outside the scope of DBMS_REPAIR capabilities.

If corruptions involve a loss of data, such as a bad row in a data block, all such blocks are marked corrupt by the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure. Then, you can run the SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure, which skips blocks marked corrupt for the object. When skip is set, table and index scans skip all blocks marked corrupt. This applies to both media and software corrupt blocks.

Implications when Skipping Corrupt Blocks

If an index and table are out of sync, then a SET TRANSACTION READ ONLY transaction can be inconsistent in situations where one query probes only the index, and then a subsequent query probes both the index and the table. If the table block is marked corrupt, then the two queries return different results, thereby breaking the rules of a read-only transaction. One way to approach this is to not skip corruptions when in a SET TRANSACTION READ ONLY transaction.

A similar issue occurs when selecting rows that are chained. Essentially, a query of the same row may or may not access the corruption, thereby producing different results.

Task 4: Repair Corruptions and Rebuild Lost Data

After making an object usable, you can perform the following repair activities.

Recover Data Using the DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS Procedures

The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure reports on index entries that point to rows in corrupt data blocks. All such index entries are inserted into an orphan key table that stores the key and rowid of the corruption.

After the index entry information has been retrieved, you can rebuild the index using the ALTER INDEX ... REBUILD ONLINE statement.

Repair Free Lists Using the REBUILD_FREELISTS Procedure

Use this procedure if free space in segments is being managed using free lists (SEGMENT SPACE MANAGEMENT MANUAL).

When a block marked "corrupt" is found at the head or tail of a free list, the free list is reinitialized and an error is returned. Although this takes the offending block off the free list, it causes you to lose free list access to all blocks that followed the corrupt block.

You can use the REBUILD_FREELISTS procedure to reinitialize the free lists. The object is scanned, and if it is appropriate for a block to be on the free list, it is added to the master free list. Free list groups are handled by distributing blocks in an equitable fashion, one block at a time. Any blocks marked "corrupt" in the object are ignored during the rebuild.

Fix Segment Bitmaps Using the SEGMENT_FIX_STATUS Procedure

Use this procedure if free space in segments is being managed using bitmaps (SEGMENT SPACE MANAGEMENT AUTO).

This procedure either recalculates the state of a bitmap entry based on the current contents of the corresponding block, or you can specify that a bitmap entry be set to a specific value. Usually, the state is recalculated correctly and there is no need to force a setting.


In this section, examples are presented reflecting the use of the DBMS_REPAIR procedures.

Using ADMIN_TABLES to Build a Repair Table or Orphan Key Table

A repair table provides information about what corruptions were found by the CHECK_OBJECT procedure and how these will be addressed if the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure is run. Further, it is used to drive the execution of the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure.

An orphan key table is used when the DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure is executed and it discovers index entries that point to corrupt rows. The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure populates the orphan key table by logging its activity and providing the index information in a usable manner.

The ADMIN_TABLE procedure is used to create, purge, or drop a repair table or an orphan key table.

Creating a Repair Table

The following example creates a repair table for the users tablespace.

     TABLE_TYPE => dbms_repair.repair_table,
     ACTION     => dbms_repair.create_action,

For each repair or orphan key table, a view is also created that eliminates any rows that pertain to objects that no longer exist. The name of the view corresponds to the name of the repair or orphan key table, but is prefixed by DBA_ (for example DBA_REPAIR_TABLE or DBA_ORPHAN_KEY_TABLE).

The following query describes the repair table created in the previous example.


 Name                         Null?    Type
 ---------------------------- -------- --------------
 OBJECT_ID                    NOT NULL NUMBER
 BLOCK_ID                     NOT NULL NUMBER
 SCHEMA_NAME                  NOT NULL VARCHAR2(30)
 OBJECT_NAME                  NOT NULL VARCHAR2(30)
 BASEOBJECT_NAME                       VARCHAR2(30)
 PARTITION_NAME                        VARCHAR2(30)
 CORRUPT_DESCRIPTION                   VARCHAR2(2000)
 REPAIR_DESCRIPTION                    VARCHAR2(200)
 FIX_TIMESTAMP                         DATE
 REFORMAT_TIMESTAMP                    DATE

Creating an Orphan Key Table

This example illustrates the creation of an orphan key table for the users tablespace.

     TABLE_TYPE => dbms_repair.orphan_table,
     ACTION     => dbms_repair.create_action,

The orphan key table is described in the following query:


 Name                         Null?    Type
 ---------------------------- -------- -----------------
 SCHEMA_NAME                  NOT NULL VARCHAR2(30)
 INDEX_NAME                   NOT NULL VARCHAR2(30)
 IPART_NAME                            VARCHAR2(30)
 INDEX_ID                     NOT NULL NUMBER
 TABLE_NAME                   NOT NULL VARCHAR2(30)
 PART_NAME                             VARCHAR2(30)
 TABLE_ID                     NOT NULL NUMBER
 KEYROWID                     NOT NULL ROWID
 KEY                          NOT NULL ROWID

Using the CHECK_OBJECT Procedure to Detect Corruption

The CHECK_OBJECT procedure checks the specified objects, and populates the repair table with information about corruptions and repair directives. You can optionally specify a range, partition name, or subpartition name when you would like to check a portion of an object.

Validation consists of checking all blocks in the object that have not previously been marked corrupt. For each block, the transaction and data layer portions are checked for self consistency. During CHECK_OBJECT, if a block is encountered that has a corrupt buffer cache header, then that block is skipped.

Here is an example of executing the CHECK_OBJECT procedure for the scott.dept table.

DECLARE num_corrupt INT;
num_corrupt := 0;
     CORRUPT_COUNT =>  num_corrupt);
DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('number corrupt: ' || TO_CHAR (num_corrupt));

SQL*Plus outputs the following line, indicating one corruption:

number corrupt: 1

Querying the repair table produces information describing the corruption and suggesting a repair action.


------------------------------ ---------- ------------ ----------
DEPT                                    3            1 FALSE
kdbchk: row locked by non-existent transaction
        table=0   slot=0
        lockid=32   ktbbhitc=1
mark block software corrupt

At this point, the corrupted block has not yet been marked corrupt, so this is the time to extract any meaningful data. After the block is marked corrupt, the entire block must be skipped.

Fixing Corrupt Blocks with the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS Procedure

Use the FIX_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure to fix the corrupt blocks in specified objects based on information in the repair table that was previously generated by the CHECK_OBJECT procedure. Prior to effecting any change to a block, the block is checked to ensure the block is still corrupt. Corrupt blocks are repaired by marking the block software corrupt. When a repair is performed, the associated row in the repair table is updated with a fix timestamp.

This example fixes the corrupt block in table scott.dept that was reported by the CHECK_OBJECT procedure.

DECLARE num_fix INT;
num_fix := 0;
     OBJECT_TYPE => dbms_repair.table_object,
     FIX_COUNT=> num_fix);
DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('num fix: ' || TO_CHAR(num_fix));

SQL*Plus outputs the following line:

num fix: 1

To following query confirms that the repair was done.


OBJECT_NAME                      BLOCK_ID MARKED_COR
------------------------------ ---------- ----------
DEPT                                    3 TRUE

Finding Index Entries Pointing into Corrupt Data Blocks: DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS

The DUMP_ORPHAN_KEYS procedure reports on index entries that point to rows in corrupt data blocks. For each such index entry encountered, a row is inserted into the specified orphan key table. The orphan key table must have been previously created.

This information can be useful for rebuilding lost rows in the table and for diagnostic purposes.


This should be run for every index associated with a table identified in the repair table.

In this example, pk_dept is an index on the scott.dept table. It is scanned to determine if there are any index entries pointing to rows in the corrupt data block.

DECLARE num_orphans INT;
num_orphans := 0;
     OBJECT_TYPE => dbms_repair.index_object,
     KEY_COUNT => num_orphans);
DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('orphan key count: ' || TO_CHAR(num_orphans));

The following line is output, indicating there are three orphan keys:

orphan key count: 3

Index entries in the orphan key table implies that the index should be rebuilt. This guarantees that a table probe and an index probe return the same result set.

Rebuilding Free Lists Using the REBUILD_FREELISTS Procedure

The REBUILD_FREELISTS procedure rebuilds the free lists for the specified object. All free blocks are placed on the master free list. All other free lists are zeroed. If the object has multiple free list groups, then the free blocks are distributed among all free lists, allocating to the different groups in round-robin fashion.

This example rebuilds the free lists for the table scott.dept.

     OBJECT_TYPE => dbms_repair.table_object);

Enabling or Disabling the Skipping of Corrupt Blocks: SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS

The SKIP_CORRUPT_BLOCKS procedure enables or disables the skipping of corrupt blocks during index and table scans of the specified object. When the object is a table, skip applies to the table and its indexes. When the object is a cluster, it applies to all of the tables in the cluster, and their respective indexes.

The following example enables the skipping of software corrupt blocks for the scott.dept table:

     OBJECT_TYPE => dbms_repair.table_object,
     FLAGS => dbms_repair.skip_flag);

Querying scott's tables using the DBA_TABLES view shows that SKIP_CORRUPT is enabled for table scott.dept.


OWNER                          TABLE_NAME                     SKIP_COR
------------------------------ ------------------------------ --------
SCOTT                          ACCOUNT                        DISABLED
SCOTT                          BONUS                          DISABLED
SCOTT                          DEPT                           ENABLED
SCOTT                          DOCINDEX                       DISABLED
SCOTT                          EMP                            DISABLED
SCOTT                          RECEIPT                        DISABLED
SCOTT                          SALGRADE                       DISABLED
SCOTT                          SCOTT_EMP                      DISABLED
SCOTT                          SYS_IOT_OVER_12255             DISABLED
SCOTT                          WORK_AREA                      DISABLED

10 rows selected.