Oracle Database - System Change Numbers (SCNs) - Point in time


A system change number (SCN) is a logical, internal time stamp used by Oracle Database. SCNs order events that occur within the database, which is necessary to satisfy the ACID properties of a transaction.

Oracle Database uses SCNs to mark the SCN before which all changes are known to be on disk so that recovery avoids applying unnecessary redo. The database also uses SCNs to mark the point at which no redo exists for a set of data so that recovery can stop.

SCNs occur in a monotonically increasing sequence. Oracle Database can use an SCN like a clock because an observed SCN indicates a logical point in time and repeated observations return equal or greater values. If one event has a lower SCN than another event, then it occurred at an earlier time with respect to the database. Several events may share the same SCN, which means that they occurred at the same time with respect to the database.

A scn can be created with the savepoint command ?

SCN and …


Every transaction has an SCN. For example, if a transaction updates a row, then the database records the SCN at which this update occurred. Other modifications in this transaction have the same SCN. When a transaction commits, the database records an SCN for this commit.


Oracle Database increments SCNs in the system global area (SGA). When a transaction modifies data, the database writes a new SCN to the undo data segment assigned to the transaction. The log writer process then writes the commit record of the transaction immediately to the online redo log. The commit record has the unique SCN of the transaction. Oracle Database also uses SCNs as part of its instance recovery and media recovery mechanisms.


For each row, ORA_ROWSCN returns the conservative upper bound system change number (SCN) of the most recent change to the row. This pseudocolumn is useful for determining approximately when a row was last updated. It is not absolutely precise, because Oracle tracks SCNs by transaction committed for the block in which the row resides.


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