Audit trails are an important–sometimes required–part of database administration. Many systems which maintain critical information benefit from audit trails. Often government regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, 21 CFR Part 11, and HIPAA require audit trails on electronic records.
Audit trails also are tremendously useful for internal quality assurance. Any organization which develops database software–whether strictly for in-house use or as commerical products–can greatly streamline debugging and testing with an audit trail showing the net effect of how a software function changes the database. Nothing beats an audit trail for highlighting unintended side-effects either.
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