Summary and Info
When I picked up this text, I kind of expected it to be a bit sparse in some areas. After all, it's an ambitious book. With individual chapters on every database from DB2, Oracle and Sybase to MySQL, Postgres and SQL Server. In addition he also covers OS backups on Solaris, Linux, AIX, HP-UX, and Mac OS X.
Preston though, succeeds, and succeeds with flying colors. What I was struck by most of all, after reading it, is his clear breadth of knowledge in the subject of backups. Each of the different databases alone do things differently, and have a lot of different concepts, and vernacular to describe it.
He starts the book with the basics, what backing up is all about, why you do it, and what to consider. What are you backing up and why? How often, and using what method? Roll-your-own solution scripting with unix utils like dd, cpio, or tar, go with an open source solution such as Amanda, Bacula, or BackupPC, or consider various commercial solutions. And lastly, don't forget testing and verifying your backups. Preston doesn't let anything through the cracks.
I have worked on Unix for years and years, but my sweet spot is working with databases. So I read the chapters on Oracle and MySQL very carefully. In both cases I learned something new. For instance during an Oracle hotbackup, did you know that changes to datafiles are *NOT* frozen. Learn how Oracle reconstructs your data using a hotbackup, by reading his careful discussion on the topic. Databases are not simple beasts, and the backup considerations are not trivial. Nonetheless, I would recommend this book as your reference for doing database backups on any of these platforms.
Lastly I like the writing style. He calls it "champagne backup on a beer budget". Good stuff. You'll find this book interesting to read, full of detail when you need it and pointed when necessary. Go pickup a copy.
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