Database management is a critical task in modern enterprise administration, requiring a proactive approach to keep your data healthy and continually optimized. This article discusses some time-tested ways to keep the database healthy, up, and running.
For any business, databases can be considered fixed deposit boxes. These databases store, process, and disseminate valuable data to provide business insights and ensure sustainability. Without a good database, running a successful business is merely impossible now. So, while working with this valuable commodity, you need to provide specific measures to ensure its solid performance.
Failing to maintain, monitor correctly, and manage the database will lead to loss and business failure. You may ask any random database administrator about the need to maintain a healthy database. They will delineate a few everyday things.
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Dump and load Database
Benjamin Franklin’s quote as “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” is very much true in the case of database administration. Any given databases tend to scatter or fragment over time, which may lead to performance compromise. To identify the scatter level, you need to run a database analysis from time to time. The Scatter factor is a standardized measure used to understand this parameter. As far as the rue goes, a scatter factor of 1.0 is deemed to be good, but if it goes beyond 1.6, it means your DB is working harder. Such an overloaded database may wear down quickly and cost you more in terms of unsatisfactory performance. For any reason, if you cannot perform the dump and load maneuver, then you need to try out an index rebuild to defragment indexes. However, compared to dump and load, index rebuild is not so effective, but still, it can help improve the DB performance.
Test the backups
There are many instances where the database administrators struggled to find that their databases failed, and the backups are not working. In these cases, even though recovery is sometimes possible, it does not come cheap and easy. It may take days to recover, which may also adversely affect your operations for the time being. So, it is very important that you need your backups regularly and ensures that the restoration is done on to another machine.
Test and mockup your recovery plan
It is not the right time to test your database recovery plan after a disaster. This is an obvious fact, but many times, you may not be surprised to see that organizations develop a business continuity plan and disaster recovery mechanism but never test the same. You may have a good data recovery plan, but there is no point in having it until you try it and see how effectively it runs and how long it takes to failover. Most of the time, when you test it for the first time, you may be surprised to see that it is not easy as you thought and how much time it takes. If you are holding a public utility database and there is a failover, you may be violating some laws, and the consequences of the same can be significant. So, make sure that you have a data recovery plan and test to see it works.
Check the scope of database file area growth
It will be a mistake if you do not consider the growth spurts of your database files. If space exhausts due to growth, it may crash the DB system and cause corruption of files. This is an effortless thing to keep a check on, but many tend to ignore it. While using a reliable managed database administration service like RemoteDBA.com, you will not run into this issue. Space that runs out is terrible for enterprise databases, which could be easily prevented as the disk space is cheaply available. Also, with scalable solutions, you can upgrade or cut down the disk space anytime you want. With own-premise database management, you have to keep a check on your database to avoid this mishap.
Keep a check on performance indicators.
In the case of enterprise database health check, the DB itself can tell you what goes wrong. A good database administrator’s job is to know what to look for and do it from time to time. You should always keep a check of:
- Buffers hits
- Database read volume
- Index utilization
- SQL queries, and
- Large files.
This will give you a clear understanding of where you stand in terms of database performance. The users can also be a valuable source of important inputs as they experience it at the first point when a database is slow or malfunctioning. When the buffer hits go below 80%, you need to get a bigger buffer. When you watch the database reads to identify that it doubles up to over a 10–15-day time period and stays high, something is wrong to be sensed. There may be some index or code issues to be addressed.
In checking index utilization, you need to think of a rebuild for anything going below 60%. Underutilization of the same may cause the queries to run much slower than expected. To tackle this, you have to compact the indexes, which is a much easier task. If SQL queries slow down the database, you need to consider the real-time replication not to risk the stability of transactional databases. Another key thing is keeping a watch on large files and enablement of the same. This has to be automated to handle it when you create the database. However, it seems that many forget to do it and when a file of larger size, i.e., more than the set limit of 2GB or so, the database shuts down.
So, proactive monitoring of your database system is a more innovative approach to ensure your DB’s wellbeing and help avoid any disasters and high costs over time. As of now, databases must need human intervention to be appropriately designed and perform optimally. However, in a few years, automation may take over this task, too, and DBAs may be much relieved.