The tablespace is checkpointed, the checkpoint SCN marker in the datafile headers cease to increment with checkpoints, and full images of changed DB blocks are written to the redologs.
Those three actions are all that is required to guarantee consistency once the file is restored and recovery is applied. By freezing the checkpoint SCN in the file headers, any subsequent recovery on that backup copy of the file will know that it must commence at that SCN. Having an old SCN in the file header tells recovery that the file is an old one, and that it should look for the redolog file containing that SCN, and apply recovery starting there. Note that checkpoints to datafiles in hot backup mode are not suppressed during the backup, only the incrementing of the main checkpoint SCN flag. A “hot backup checkpoint” SCN marker in the file header continues to increment as periodic or incremental checkpoints progress normally.
There is a confusing side effect of having the checkpoint SCN artificially frozen at an SCN earlier than the true checkpointed SCN of the datafile. In the event of a system crash or a ‘shutdown abort’ during hot backup of a tablespace, the automatic crash recovery routine at startup will think that the files for that tablespace are quite out of date, and will actually suggest the application of old archived redologs in order to bring them back into sync with the rest of the database. It is unnecessary, in this case, to heed Oracle’s suggestion. With the database started up in mount mode, simply check v$backup and v$datafile to determine which datafiles were in backup mode at the time the database crashed. For each file in backup mode, issue an ‘alter database datafile '<file name>' end backup;’ This action will update the checkpoint SCN in the file headers to be the same as the hot backup checkpoint SCN (which is a true representation of the last SCN to which the datafile is truly checkpointed. Once this action is taken, it allows normal crash recovery to proceed during the ‘alter database open;’ command.
By initially checkpointing the datafiles that comprise the tablespace and logging full block images to redo, Oracle guarantees that any blocks changed in the datafile while in hot backup mode will also be available in the redologs in case they are ever used for a recovery.
It is well understood by much of the Oracle user community that during hot backup mode, a greater volume of redo is generated for changes to the tablespace being backed up than when the tablespace is not in backup mode. This is the result of the logging of full images of changed blocks in these tablespaces to the redologs. Normally, Oracle logs an entry in the redologs for every change in the database, but it does not log the whole image of the database block. By logging full images of changed DB blocks to the redologs during backup mode, Oracle eliminates the possibility of the backup containing irresolvable split blocks. To understand this reasoning, you must first understand what a split block is.
Typically, Oracle database blocks are a multiple of O/S blocks. For instance, most Unix filesystems have a default block size of 512 bytes, while Oracle’s default block size is 2k. This means that the filesystem stores data in 512 byte chunks, while Oracle performs reads and writes in 2k chunks, or multiples thereof. While backing up a datafile, your backup script makes a copy of the datafile from the filesystem, using O/S utilities such as copy, dd, cpio, or OCOPY. As it is making this copy, it is reading in O/S-block sized increments. If the database writer happens to be writing a DB block into the datafile at the same time that your script is reading that block’s constituent O/S blocks, your backup copy of the DB block could contain some O/S blocks from before the database performed the write, and some from after. This would be a split block.
By logging the full block image of the changed block to the redologs, it guarantees that in the event of a recovery, any split blocks that might be in the backup copy of the datafile will be resolved by overlaying them with the full legitimate image of the block from the redologs. Upon completion of a recovery, any blocks that got copied in a split state into the backup will have been resolved through application of full block images from the redologs.