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This may be a stupid question, but I can't find any information out there on this.

Is there a way to tell if the database uses a pfile or spfile when the instance is down?

For example if an Oracle database went down that I was not familiar with and had no documentation on, and I was tasked with getting it back up and running. How would I know if it used a PFILe or SPFILE? Startup vs Startup pfile=

Thanks in advance

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It does not really matter, but spfile is favored because it provides better functionality.

When an instance is down, it does not use any of them.

You may check the alert log for the previous startups, the pfile/spfile location is displayed there after each startup.

If the database is registered in Grid Infrastructure as a database resource, the spfile location is typically (but not mandatorily) specified there (srvctl config database -d database_name).

By the way, most databases use SPFILE.

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