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Rebuilding Indexes Every Sunday Afternoon !! October 28, 2009

Posted by Richard Foote in Index Rebuild, Oracle Indexes, Richard's Musings.

I just had to share this amusing article on “Scheduling Oracle Index Rebuilding“.

Regular readers of this blog can no doubt pick the various inaccuracies and strawman arguments with this article. It’s was nice however to reminisce and take a stroll down memory lane back to the 80’s and 90’s when many DBAs indeed did spend every Sunday afternoon rebuilding indexes and the such during so-called maintainance windows.

However, if you’re like me and now work on sites where there is no such Sunday maintainance window because your users actually require and demand 24 x 7 access to their applications, because organisations still want to sell their products and services online during Sunday afternoons, because governments still want border control applications functioning on Sunday afternoons, because consumers still want access to their bank savings on Sunday afternoons, because police still need to access critical information about possible criminal activities on Sunday afternoons, because airlines still want to fly aircraft on Sunday afternoons, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. ……..

then perhaps the article may not be that useful to you afterall.

Of course, maybe you do have a maintainance window of some description but then have that other really annoying problem associated with modern databases, of them being big, really really big and so more difficult to maintain. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, databases were relatively small by todays standards and it was conceivable for indexes to be rebuilt with little or no thought. There was generally little point, but at least you could get away with it. However, if you’re like me and you have databases with indexes that total in the many terabytes, it just isn’t feasible or practical to rebuild all such indexes, even if you wanted to.

No. If you do have a maintainance window, you may want to make sure the valuable time is spent well, on activities that actually make a difference.

Of course you may also look after databases like I do where the percentage of indexes that actually benefit from a rebuild is not around 30% as suggested by the article but significantly below 1%. Therefore rebuilding 99+% of indexes for no practical gain or purpose may not be considered a “wise” use of maintainance opportunities.

One thing this article did make me ponder though is the number of database sites out there where the DBAs demand and force their businesses and associated end-users into having forced downtimes, into having their applications and business processes impacted and made unavailable (say) every Sunday morning, not because it’s actually necessary or because there’s a business or technical benefit but just because their DBAs say or think they still need to follow the processes and maintainance activities of the 80’s and 90’s. Interesting question that …

One last point I would make with this article (which BTW will change and be modified in the future, I can guarantee that, just save a copy and see). Why would you bother with validating the structure of all indexes if you plan to rebuild them all anyways ? And who is the more inept ? Someone in the Netherlands who attempts to run a script that attempts to validate structure of all indexes or someone who writes a script to validate structure indexes with an ALTER INDEX command 😉

Personally, I spend every Sunday afternoon relaxing and enjoying the weekend, playing sport, perhaps doing a bit of gardening and on a lovely sunny day, just sitting back with family and friends enjoying a barbecue and a few cold beers.

Meanwhile, all my database applications just run on happily along with no impact on business activities at all …