Oracle Data Pump Enhancing Security and Efficiency in Data Export and Import

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Data export and import are crucial activities in Oracle databases, frequently used to transfer data between databases or create backups. However, traditional export/import utilities have significant security vulnerabilities that can compromise sensitive data. In this article, we will explore Oracle Data Pump, an enhanced version of the export/import utility, which addresses these security issues and offers additional benefits for data export and import.

Understanding the Security Issue with Traditional Export/Import

The main problem with traditional export/import is that it lacks security measures. When you perform an export, it creates a dump file containing the data. Unfortunately, anyone who has access to this file can import it into any database, regardless of the intended destination. This means that if the dump file falls into the wrong hands, sensitive data can be easily viewed by unauthorized individuals. This lack of security poses a significant risk to organizations with sensitive data.

Introducing Oracle Data Pump: Enhanced Security and More

Oracle Data Pump is an extension of the traditional export/import utility that overcomes the security issues. It offers several advantages, including enhanced security measures (such as data encryption), improved performance, and additional export/import options. Let’s take a closer look at the key benefits of Oracle Data Pump:

  1. Secure Data Export/Import: Unlike traditional export/import, Data Pump creates a master table in the corresponding schema to ensure secure data transfer. This master table is temporary and is deleted after the export/import operation.

  2. Granular Export/Import Levels: With Data Pump, you can perform exports and imports at various levels, including database level, schema level, table level, and even row level. This allows for more control and flexibility in selecting specific data subsets.

  3. Tablespace Level Export/Import: Data Pump introduces a new level of export/import, allowing you to export and import entire tablespaces. This feature simplifies and streamlines the process of moving data between databases.

  4. Enhanced Performance: Data Pump utilizes parallel processing capabilities, significantly improving the performance of data export and import operations. However, it’s important to note that when using the parallel option for export, the same parallel option should be used for import to ensure optimal performance.

Understanding the Data Pump Directory Concept

Data Pump introduces a new concept called the “directory,” which plays a crucial role in the export/import process. Let’s understand how the data pump directory works and how it differs from traditional export/import:

  1. Directory Creation: Before performing data pump export/import, you need to create a directory where the export or import file will be stored. This directory needs to be created both at the operating system (OS) level and in the database.

  2. Security Layer: Creating directories at both the OS level and the database level adds an extra layer of security. Without the directory being created, no export or import can be performed. This ensures that only authorized users with proper access can initiate export/import operations.

  3. Different Names for Source and Target Directories: It’s not mandatory to create directories with the same names on the source and target servers. In fact, using different names for directories on different servers adds an additional security measure.

Step-by-Step Process: Creating Data Pump Directory

To perform data pump export/import, you need to create directories both at the source server (where the export is performed) and the target server (where the import will take place). Here’s how you can create the data pump directory:

  1. Source Server Directory Creation: On the source server (production server), create the data pump export directory at the OS level using the command mkdir -p /u02/DP_exp_dir. Verify the directory creation with the command ls -ld /u02/DP_exp_dir.

  2. Database Level Directory Creation: In the SQL*Plus command-line interface, connect as the DBA user (sqlplus / as sysdba). Create the directory inside the database using the create directory command. For example, create directory DP_EXP_DIR as '/u02/DP_exp_dir'. This creates the directory and associates it with the specified location.

  3. Assign Permissions (if needed): If you want to allow a different user (other than the owner of the objects) to perform the export/import, grant read and write permissions on the data pump directory to the specific user. However, it’s recommended to use the SYS user for data pump export/import to avoid permission-related complications.

  4. Directory Verification: To check all the directories created inside the database, query the DBA_DIRECTORIES view (select * from DBA_DIRECTORIES). Look for the directory you created earlier (DP_EXP_DIR in our example) to ensure its existence.

  5. Target Server Directory Creation: Repeat the same process on the target server (import server) to create the data pump import directory. Create the directory at the OS level using the command mkdir -p /u01/IMP_dir. Then, in the SQL*Plus on the target server, create the directory inside the database using the create directory command (create directory DATA_PUMP_DIR as '/u01/IMP_dir').

By following these steps, you have successfully created the necessary data pump directories at both the source and target servers, ensuring a secure and efficient export/import process.


Oracle Data Pump is a powerful utility that addresses the security vulnerabilities of traditional export/import and offers numerous benefits for data export and import. By creating data pump directories at the OS level and database level, you add an extra layer of security to your export/import operations. With enhanced security measures, granular export/import options, and improved performance, Oracle Data Pump is a valuable tool for any Oracle database administrator looking to streamline and secure their data management processes.