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Tracking Modified Extents

SQL Server uses two internal data structures to track extents modified by bulk copy operations and extents modified since the last full backup. These data structures greatly speed up differential backups. They also speed up the logging of bulk copy operations when a database is using the bulk-logged recovery model. Like the Global Allocation Map (GAM) and Shared Global Allocation Map (SGAM) pages, these structures are bitmaps in which each bit represents a single extent.

  • Differential Changed Map (DCM)

    This tracks the extents that have changed since the last BACKUP DATABASE statement. If the bit for an extent is 1, the extent has been modified since the last BACKUP DATABASE statement. If the bit is 0, the extent has not been modified.

    Differential backups read just the DCM pages to determine which extents have been modified. This greatly reduces the number of pages that a differential backup must scan. The length of time that a differential backup runs is proportional to the number of extents modified since the last BACKUP DATABASE statement and not the overall size of the database.

  • Bulk Changed Map (BCM)

    This tracks the extents that have been modified by bulk logged operations since the last BACKUP LOG statement. If the bit for an extent is 1, the extent has been modified by a bulk logged operation after the last BACKUP LOG statement. If the bit is 0, the extent has not been modified by bulk logged operations.

    Although BCM pages appear in all databases, they are only relevant when the database is using the bulk-logged recovery model. In this recovery model, when a BACKUP LOG is performed, the backup process scans the BCMs for extents that have been modified. It then includes those extents in the log backup. This lets the bulk logged operations be recovered if the database is restored from a database backup and a sequence of transaction log backups. BCM pages are not relevant in a database that is using the simple recovery model, because no bulk logged operations are logged. They are not relevant in a database that is using the full recovery model, because that recovery model treats bulk logged operations as fully logged operations.

The interval between DCM pages and BCM pages is the same as the interval between GAM and SGAM page, 64,000 extents. The DCM and BCM pages are located behind the GAM and SGAM pages in a physical file:

Differential Change Map and Bulk Changed Map pages
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