Parameter Files in Oracle Pfile SPFile Everything You Need to Know

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In this informative article, we will be discussing the parameter files in Oracle, specifically focusing on the Pfile and SPFile. When starting the Oracle database, it goes through three phases: No Mount, Mount, and Open. During the No Mount stage, the database searches for the parameter file. Let’s dive deeper into understanding what the parameter file is, the different types of parameter files in the Oracle database, and the significance of parameter files.

What is a Parameter File?

A parameter file in the Oracle database is a configuration file that contains crucial information about the database, such as the database name, instance name, and location of control files. It also includes various settings related to memory parameters, character set, and language settings. There are two types of parameter files in Oracle: Pfile (also known as the INIT.ora file) and SPFile (Server Parameter File).

Pfile and SPFile Explained

The Pfile, or the INIT.ora file, is a human-readable file that allows for manual changes to be made to the database configuration. This means that if you want to make adjustments using SQL queries instead of system initialization, you can do so by modifying the Pfile. On the other hand, the SPFile is a binary format file that Oracle uses by default. If the SPFile is not available, Oracle will resort to the Pfile. Although the content in both files is the same, the only difference lies in their format.

Why Choose SPFile over Pfile?

Oracle recommends utilizing the SPFile due to its binary format. The SPFile is not readable by humans, making it more secure against any unauthorized modifications. Although the Pfile is still useful for manual changes, it is advisable to convert it into an SPFile to ensure database integrity and security.

Locating the Parameter Files

To determine whether the database is using a Pfile or SPFile, you can use the following command: show parameter spfile. If the result displays an SPFile, it means the database is utilizing the SPFile. Oracle will provide you with the location of the SPFile, usually located at “your_oracle_home/database” for Windows and “your_oracle_home/dbs” for UNIX or Linux platforms.

Checking the Database Information

You can also check the database name and other information using the command show parameter db_name. This command will display the current database name, which is sourced from the parameter file being used. Additionally, you can use the command show parameter sga to view the values related to the System Global Area (SGA), such as the SGA size and related parameters.

Converting Pfile to SPFile

If you are currently using a Pfile and wish to switch to an SPFile, it is possible to convert the Pfile to an SPFile. In a separate video, we will discuss how to create an SPFile from a Pfile and vice versa, along with the associated scope of the conversion. However, it is important to note that backups can be taken for SPFiles, but Pfiles cannot be backed up.


In conclusion, understanding parameter files is crucial when working with the Oracle database. The Pfile and SPFile serve as configuration files that contain vital information about the database. While the Pfile is human-readable and allows for manual changes, the SPFile is recommended for its binary format and enhanced security. By using the appropriate commands, you can determine the type of parameter file being used and access essential database information. Remember, it is possible to convert a Pfile to an SPFile for increased database integrity. If you have any queries or require further information, feel free to reach out to us. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to sharing more informative videos with you in the future.

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