When did I update that row?

I had a requirement the other day to understand when some data had been changed, but there was no column on the table which showed this.

So how do I find out? Well I could go off mining redo and lots of other time consuming and exotic things, but you can use the Oracle Pseudocolumn ORA_ROWSCN. This gives the SCN assocaited with each row. Well, actually it usually doesn’t. It does not show when the individual row of data was changed but, by default, gives the last changed SCN for the block where the row of data lives.

If you want to know with accuracy the SCN for the row change, you need to create your table with the extension “rowdependencies”. This adds a hidden column to each row, taking 6 bytes and storing the SCN on a row-by-row basis with your data. NOTE: This is a CREATE TABLE option only. You can’t modify a table to add rowdependencies, and there are a few restrictions for tables where this is enabled. Check the documentation for your version.

So, we now have the SCN, whether for the BLOCK or the ROW. What good is that? Well, there’s a chance that Oracle will have remembered approximately when that SCN came out. I think you are guaranteed this for about 120 hours – nearly a week – but depending upon a number of factors including the flashback retention and undo retention times.

You can get a rough idea of the SCN time from V$LOG_HISTORY, a more accurate idea from SYS.SMON_SCN_TIME, or just use the SCN_TO_TIMESTAMP function to make your life easier! If you are within 120 hours and have rowdependencies enabled, it will be roughly accurate to the time of the commit, depending upon a couple of factors – please see comments.

Here’s a short worked example to show the sorting of SCN’s in both normal (block) and rowdependency-enabled tables. Note how the ORA_ROWSCN is the same for each row in the same block in the normal table.

 

00:29:34 NEIL @ ORCL01 > create table scn_block (col1 number, col2 date, c_scn number);
Table created.
00:29:34 NEIL @ ORCL01 > create table scn_row (col1 number, col2 date, c_scn number) rowdependencies;
Table created.
00:29:34 NEIL @ ORCL01 > insert into scn_block values (1,sysdate,userenv('commitscn') );
1 row created.
00:29:34 NEIL @ ORCL01 > commit;
Commit complete.
00:29:34 NEIL @ ORCL01 > host sleep 5
00:29:39 NEIL @ ORCL01 > insert into scn_row values (1,sysdate,userenv('commitscn') );
1 row created.
00:29:39 NEIL @ ORCL01 > commit;
Commit complete.
00:29:39 NEIL @ ORCL01 > host sleep 5
00:29:44 NEIL @ ORCL01 > insert into scn_block values (1,sysdate,userenv('commitscn') );
1 row created.
00:29:44 NEIL @ ORCL01 > commit;
Commit complete.
00:29:44 NEIL @ ORCL01 > host sleep 5
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > insert into scn_row values (1,sysdate,userenv('commitscn') );
1 row created.
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > commit;
Commit complete.
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > column dt_1 format a30 truncate
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > column dt_2 format a30 truncate
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 >
00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > select col1,col2,c_scn,ora_rowscn,scn_to_timestamp(c_scn) dt_1,scn_to_timestamp(ora_rowscn) dt_2 from scn_block;

COL1       COL2      C_SCN      ORA_ROWSCN DT_1                           DT_2
---------- --------- ---------- ---------- ------------------------------ ------------------------------
1          05-DEC-15 3670102    3670149    05-DEC-15 00.29.34.000000000   05-DEC-15 00.29.43.000000000
1          05-DEC-15 3670148    3670149    05-DEC-15 00.29.43.000000000   05-DEC-15 00.29.43.000000000

00:29:49 NEIL @ ORCL01 > select col1,col2,c_scn,ora_rowscn,scn_to_timestamp(c_scn) dt_1,scn_to_timestamp(ora_rowscn) dt_2 from scn_row;

COL1       COL2      C_SCN      ORA_ROWSCN DT_1                           DT_2
---------- --------- ---------- ---------- ------------------------------ ------------------------------
1          05-DEC-15 3670133    3670134    05-DEC-15 00.29.39.000000000   05-DEC-15 00.29.39.000000000
1          05-DEC-15 3670160    3670161    05-DEC-15 00.29.48.000000000   05-DEC-15 00.29.48.000000000

In an interesting convergance, whilst I was doing this, Martin Widlake was looking at the same thing in a slightly different way. How meta.

 

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