Temporal Tables For Error Recovery

Dimitri Furman looks at using temporal tables to recover from user errors:

Have you ever got that sinking feeling after hitting the Execute button in SSMS, thinking “I should not have done that”? DML statements with missing WHERE clause, DROP statements accidentally targeting slightly mistyped (but existing) tables or databases, RESTORE statements overwriting databases with new data that haven’t been backed up, are all examples of actions prompting an “Oops…” (or worse) shortly thereafter. “Oops recovery” is the term that became popular to describe the process of fixing the consequences.

For most of these scenarios, the usual, and often the only, recovery mechanism is to restore the database from backup to a point in time just before the “oops”, known as point-in-time recovery (PITR). Even though PITR remains the most general and the most effective recovery mechanism, it does have some drawbacks and limitations: the recovery process requires a full database restore, taking the time proportional to the size of the database; a sequence of restores may be needed if multiple “oops” transactions have occurred; in the general case, there will be difficulties reconciling recovered data with data modified after the “oops” point in time, etc. Nevertheless, PITR remains the most widely applicable recovery method for SQL Server databases, both on-premises and in the cloud.

The solution entails a non-trivial amount of effort, but it is interesting.

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