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Backup and recovery management basics

We are using Oracle 9.2 R-2 Database on SUN Solaris 5.8 (SPARC m/c). Our database is in no archive log mode and it is an OLTP database being used in manufacturing operations.

We are a bit new to Oracle database and would like to know the following regarding database backup and recovery management:
1. What type of backup policy we should adopt for our backup process.
a. Cold backup
b. Hot backup
c. Export/import
d. Backup through RMAN or any of the mix mode. Shutting database instance in a week is possible for us, but we would like to ensure reliable backup on the daily basis.
The first thing I'd like to stress is that you become completely familiar with Oracle's Backup & Recovery techniques. Please read the Oracle documentation front to back on B&R. Then, purchase a copy of Oracle Backup & Recovery Handbook by Velpuri & Adkoli on Oracle Press. It contains tons of useful information, scripts, and B&R scenarios. Then, make sure you test, test, test both your backup *and* your recovery!

So which type of backup should you employ? That all depends on your requirements. Can you afford downtime? If so, then a cold backup may be what you want to employ. It is easy and conceptually simple. Just bring down the database, copy the datafiles with OS commands or utilities, and start the database. If you must be up 24x7, or you can't be down long enough to backup your entire database because it is too big for your backup window, then you'll have to employ some sort of hot backup. This is a little more complex and requires you to be in Archive Log mode (which I highly suggest for production database anyway), but your database stays operational during the backup. Export/import is not a backup/recovery operation. An export is just a snapshot in time of that database. And you can't restore anything other than that specific snapshot in time. If someone makes a change to the database after that snapshot, then you lose those changes if you need to resort to that export dump. I never, ever use export/import for my backup/recovery strategy. I know many DBAs do use export/import for a variety of reasons, but with today's Oracle database, I've found that those reasons are covered with RMAN.

Which brings us to Oracle's Recovery Manager, or RMAN. With RMAN, you can do both hot and cold backups. RMAN simplifies the backup and recovery procedures by taking care of all of the details for you. It does take a while to get things set up at first, but once RMAN is handling your backups and recovery, you'll want to keep on using it. The Velpuri & Adkoli text I mentioned above contains plenty of information on RMAN as well.

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