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DBCA is a utility that allows you to
configure, manage, and create a database. It’s usually run during
an initial database installation when you select the Create A
Database option. You can either create a database based on database
templates that ship with the software, or you can load a template
from a previous session.

Many administrators don’t realize that they can
go back to this utility at any time by typing dbca at the command line.
Once the utility starts, you can create a new database, configure
database INIT.ORA options, delete an existing database, or manage
database templates. These database templates are the same as the
ones at installation time (i.e., General Purpose, Data Warehouse,
and Transaction Processing).

During installation, an alert window asked if
you wanted to save your template. Don’t worry if you clicked No, or
if you manually tuned your database since installation. The DBCA
utility is able to examine your database settings and generate a
template based on your current system–even optionally exporting
the current data. This makes it a good utility to move a database
to another machine or to ship starter databases for value-added

The DBCA utility stores templates in a file
with a .dbc extension. A .dbc file contains a listing of init.ora
parameters, location of data files, redo log files, and control
files in your database in XML format. If you choose to include your
databases data, it will also create a file with a .dbj extension,
which is a ZIP file that contains images of your data files. Some
users might want to create a backup copy of all these settings in
case they need to recreate a database from scratch on a new

There are variables such as {ORACLE_BASE} and
{DB_NAME} to allow DBCA to install files into the appropriate
directory for an Oracle software installation. Since it’s simple
XML, it’s quick to look up the differences between the templates
with a diff function. For example, the difference between the
General Purpose and Data Warehouse database templates are in the
Data Warehouse template for Oracle 9i

  • The TEMP tablespace is smaller by 1M.
  • The init.ora parameters:

–star_transformation_enabled is turned on.

is larger.

is turned on.

–db_file_multiblock_read_count is doubled.

–sort_area_size is

–It doesn’t set the
value of hash_area_size.

–The db_cache_size is

For the Transaction Processing template, the
differences are:

  • The Oracle OLAP option is disabled.
  • The init.ora parameters:

–db_block_size is

–undo_retention is

is smaller.

–db_file_multiblock_read_count is half.

–hash_join_enabled is
turned off.

–the db_cache_size is

  • It doesn’t create a CWMLITE tablespace
    (because the OLAP option is turned off).
  • The EXAMPLE and SYSTEM tablespaces are slightly smaller.
  • The TEMP tablespace is twice as large.

When you export the data from your database
using the DBCA utility, it creates a file with the extension .dfj,
which appears to be a ZIP file of raw images of each data file.
This means that the data can be somewhat secured during shipping.
These files, however, aren’t as well documented and supported as
EXP and IMP. Also, these images are most likely written directly to
disk rather than via SQL like IMP, so it’s only appropriate to use
.dfj files with database creation and not as a backup.

Scott Stephens worked for Oracle for more than 13 years in technical support, e-commerce, marketing, and software development. For more of his Oracle tips, visit our Oracle Dev Tips Library.