Do you believe spreadsheets are an excellent tool for number crunching? Well, you are not wrong, but can the spreadsheets work for you when you have enormous data to store? For example, you have massive data on customers, staff, and inventory, which spreadsheets alone can’t cater to. In such situations replacing spreadsheets with databases is the only option left with firms. Databases offer centralized systems that help business firms to keep track of the increasing amount of data systematically. A good database is all that firms need to manage all the critical business data centrally, safely, and securely, increasing the chances of success. Although databases are a better option over the traditional spreadsheets, the question is, are they fault-tolerant?
There is no doubt that data is the most valuable asset companies have at present. Information about the customers, employees, finances, and other types of data plays a crucial role in the success and growth of firms in the competitive global front. Hence secured storage of data should be the top priority of businesses. This is where centralized databases come to the rescue of firms. But it’s quite common for the data administrators to receive a message stating, “there has been a database failure.” When the health of the entire firm depends on the database, receiving such messages can create havoc within the firm. As soon as database administrator gets the message, they start running around looking for an alternative way to get the data back. But, in certain situations, database failure is complicated, making the data recovery process next to impossible. In such cases, your only hope is the data recovery specialist who will recover your data without any intrusion in privacy. But, before consulting the data recovery specialist, you must be aware of various types of database failures and prevention measures to protect your data in the first place only.
What to know why databases crash? Know it right here!
There are many reasons responsible for the database crash that will affect the standard database processing. Certain failures only affect the main memory, while others harm the secondary storage as well. One thing users have to understand is that different failures need different recovery measures. Now without any further ado, let’s look at the common types of database failures.
A system crash can be dangerous for your business
Have you ever faced a situation where your system crashes, and you receive a warning message indicating the arrival of Mayday? You are not alone; database administrators quite often receive such messages owing to the system crash. But what is the system crash? It’s a bug or hardware malfunction that infects the operating system. Certain crashes result in the loss of valuable content present in the volatile storage areas like main memory, cache memory, RAM, etc. If you experience such failures, one good news is that data in the non-volatile storage will remain unaffected. System crashes are responsible for bringing the entire system to a halt. In this type of database crash, the system will hang up, and you will have to perform the reboot operation to get back to work. To avoid a system crash, you must adopt preventive measures and maintain the system in good health. Take care of the protocols and network to reduce the downtime. By maintaining everything on time, you will be able to restore the database and get your data back.
Media failure is next in the list
Trust us, media failure is one of the most dangerous types of database failures. If you don’t have a data backup, get ready to lose your data forever. This is because recovery from media failure is time-consuming and daunting. After you encounter media failure, you will not be able to access the database for several hours, making the failure quite risky. A key example of media failure is disk controller failure, resulting in the loss of data residing on the disk or disks. In such situations, it’s the responsibility of the database administrator to plan an effective backup procedure and provide adequate malware protection to protect the system against media failure.
Network or software failure
Do you know when a system exceeds the limit of its resources, you will experience bad inputs or software errors? Software errors can bring the processing transactions to a halt, giving rise to database failures. Network failures occur when you use the client-server configuration or distributed databases wherein multiple database servers are connected by the communication networks. Examples of network failures include communication software failures or aborted asynchronous connections that hamper the typical day to operations within the database system. To protect the firm against such failures, you can minimize the application software error at the time of conception and software engineering process. Sometimes a malicious code can exploit the vulnerabilities associated with the programming software and thus interrupt the database operations.
Become aware of statement failure
Statement failure refers to the inability to execute an SQL statement within the database. It’s quite common that while running the user program, one amongst the several SQL statements might not execute due to several reasons. For example, you select data from a table that does not exist or try to perform an insert operation, but the statement fails due to the lack of space. Failure of such SQL statements can lead to the generation of error codes by the operating system. Here the recovery is automatic. The databases, after detecting the error, will roll back the statement to the user program. The next step is to re-execute the statement after correcting the issue.
Limited memory and swap space available
The database uses memory based on buffers, caches, and log files. In the database buffer cache, database servers create duplicate data from data files. The database buffer cache is also the place where data processing takes place. But, with the increase in the data volume, there will be a subsequent increase in the information as well. But, if enough memory is not left for the in-memory resources, the databases will try to take the SWAP memory. And, if there is not enough SWAP space available, the database server will stop the operation or crash due to the lack of memory.
Database on the wrong server
We all know the race for server hosting has never been as competitive as it is today. Many DBA’s are guilty of making the mistake of going for the system upgrades at a cheap rate. Without any proper strategy, the database and information will end up on the shared servers denying usage to users when the network is full. There are various reasons responsible for this, like poor configuration or query, faulty application coding, and compromised application/database. As a result, the database will be deficient in the resources, including memory space and processing.
Preventive measures to keep your database safe
When we talk about preventive measures, strong passwords, backing up your data, and using security applications is not enough. To protect the database from crashing, you need to take extra measures. Some of the preventive measures that can reduce the risk of database crash include:
1. Control access: Going by the saying, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” we advocate control access to the database to reduce the chances of database failure. When too many users access the database simultaneously, the result will be an increase in the database errors. Hence, DBA’s must restrict access to the authorized users, limit the usage of crucial procedures to specific users only, and avoid the usage outside normal office hours.
2. Identify sensitive data: Before using any protection tool, it’s crucial to analyze and identify relevant information that you want to protect. And, for doing so, you have to understand the logic and architecture of the database. This will make it easy to determine how and where the sensitive data will be stored. Firms can keep an inventory of company databases. To administer and avoid losing information, firms have to keep a record of all the databases.
3. Go for data encryption: After you identify the sensitive information, the next step is to use robust algorithms to encrypt the data. To avoid hackers exploiting the data, you need to protect your database by encrypting the data. Make sure no person accesses the databases unless he has the authority to do so.
4. Monitor the database activity: If you want to know when and where the information is being stored, you must keep a check on the auditing and recording actions. By having a complete history of transactions, it will become easy to avoid information leaks, control fraudulent changes, and detect any suspicious activity in real-time.
We all know the importance of having a secured database within the firm, but failure can occur at anytime and anyplace. Instead of crying over the loss of data, it’s always better to adopt protective measures in the first place only. These preventive measures will prevent the loss of valuable information owing to a database crash or failure.