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Don Burleson Blog 







  Windows VSS tips

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonMarch 28, 2015

Question:  The oravssw.exe process is listed as top 3 processes consuming virtual memory. on my Windows server.  Due to this memory issue we had to reboot the Windows server.  Can you please give me your opinion on the Oravssw.exe process.

Answer:  Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is a Windows shadow copy utility used in conjunction with the Veeam Backup VSS integration.  The Oracle VSS writer supports log, copy, full, differential, and incremental backups, just like RMAN. 

Kim Thomas notes that:

 "OraVSSW.exe doesn't have a product name yet and it is developed by Oracle Corporation. I've seen about 76 different instances of OraVSSW.exe in different locations."

Oracle 11g has a component named "Oracle VSS Writer" that gets installed when selecting Windows OCI Components on the Oracle 11g database install wizard of the DBCA.  Veeam starts windows VSS agent and VSS starts Oracle VSS Writer, does the full consistent hot-backup of the database and then I use a script to clean archive logs and traces manually.

Sadly, the web is full of reports of:

- Slow backup performance on large databases.

- VEEAM causing system-wide lock-ups.

- Memory leaks when using VSS, and many people recommending periodic bouncing of the VSS service to release memory leaks.

In a nutshell, VSS has issues and RMAN is recommended instead of VSS for performing backups on Windows systems.  See my important notes on taking RMAN backups with Windows scripts.

However, there are known issues with VSS, most related to memory leaks and excessive memory consumption. See MOSC  Note 1358570.1 titled  "Instance Crash Or ORA-04030 Errors When Pagefile Is Full."

Cause:  The issue is discussed in suspended and unpublished Bug 9063341 - MEMORY LEAK OCCURS FROM ORAVSSW.EXE EVERY TIME BACKUP JOB HAS DONE.  The problem is caused by a memory leak in the Oracle Volume Shadow Copy Service.

Solution:  There is no fix for this. However, the problem can be worked around as follows:

   - If not using the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) feature, then
     simply disable the ORAVSSW.EXE service.

   - If VSS is being used, then simply stop and restart the ORAVSSW.EXE service
     after performing your disk shadow backup.

In short, RMAN is the recommended backup method for all Oracle databases on all platforms.

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