we got acquainted with the structure of an important component of the shared memory — the buffer cache. A risk of losing information from RAM is the main reason why we need techniques to recover data after failure. Now we will discuss these techniques.
Sadly, there's no such thing as miracles: to survive the loss of information in RAM, everything needed must be duly saved to disk (or other nonvolatile media).
Therefore, the following was done. Along with changing data, the log
of these changes is maintained. When we change something on a page in the buffer cache, we create a record of this change in the log. The record contains the minimum information sufficient to redo the change if the need arises.
For this to work, the log record must obligatory get to disk before
the changed page gets there. And this explains the name: write-ahead log (WAL)
In case of failure, the data on disk appear to be inconsistent: some pages were written earlier, and others later. But WAL remains, which we can read and redo the operations that were performed before the failure but their result was late to reach the disk.