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ORA-01033 is related to the starting up or shutting down of Oracle. There are several possible causes and fixes to the problem.

The Problem

The ORA-01033 error message is as follows:

ORACLE initialization or shutdown in progress

The most likely cause is that an attempt was made to log on while Oracle is either starting up or shutting down. Otherwise, you may be facing one of the following problems:

  • The database was not mounted properly.
  • There is a problem with the database files—They may have been moved or are corrupt (CTL, DBF, ORA).
  • There is a problem with the database service.

The Solution

Check to see if the database is in the process of starting up or shutting down. Wait a few minutes for Oracle to finish, then try the operation again. If this is unsuccessful, restart the system and restart the database service.

Another possibility for the error is that your operating system holds RAM regions left over which Oracle takes as an instance that is already running. If this is the case, you must kill all Oracle processes associated with the ORACLE_SID. Identify all RAM memory segments, then release the RAM memory.

If the database was not mounted properly, you must mount and restart the database. Do this by querying “alter the database mount” and “alter database open”.

If there is a problem with the database files, the files may have been changed or moved to a different location. Locate and recover the files if this is the case.

Lastly, if there is a problem with the database service, restart the database service in services. msc.

In addition, if you are getting ORA-19809 in addition to ORA-01033, the solution may lie within fixing ORA-19809, which occurs when the limit is exceeded for recovery files.

A last resort may be deleting the service and database, then recreating it. If you choose to try this method, make sure your data is backed up. In service.msc, stop the service and delete the service. Then recreate the database.

Looking Forward 

To avoid getting ORA-01033, make sure Oracle is not in the process of starting up or shutting down. Make sure the database is mounted properly and there are no problems with the database service or files. A simple solution to  many problems faced in Oracle requires shutting down and restarting. This may easily resolve some Oracle errors. If you continue seeing ORA-01033, contact your database administrator for assistance. You may consider consulting a licensed Oracle professional.