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MySQL Reference Manual for version 5.0.3-alpha - 1 General Information Go to the first, previous, next, last section, table of contents.

1 General Information

The MySQL (R) software delivers a very fast, multi-threaded, multi-user, and robust SQL (Structured Query Language) database server. MySQL Server is intended for mission-critical, heavy-load production systems as well as for embedding into mass-deployed software. MySQL is a registered trademark of MySQL AB.

The MySQL software is Dual Licensed. Users can choose to use the MySQL software as an Open Source product under the terms of the GNU General Public License ( or can purchase a standard commercial license from MySQL AB. See for more information on our licensing policies.

The following list describes some sections of particular interest in this manual:


Reports of errors (often called ``bugs''), as well as questions and comments, should be sent to See section How to Report Bugs or Problems.

If you have found a sensitive security bug in MySQL Server, please let us know immediately by sending an email message to

1.1 About This Manual

This is the Reference Manual for the MySQL Database System. It documents MySQL up to Version 5.0.3-alpha, but is also applicable for older versions of the MySQL software (such as 3.23 or 4.0-production) because functional changes are indicated with reference to a version number.

Because this manual serves as a reference, it does not provide general instruction on SQL or relational database concepts. It also will not teach you how to use your operating system or command-line interpreter.

The MySQL Database Software is under constant development, and the Reference Manual is updated frequently as well. The most recent version of the manual is available online in searchable form at Other formats also are available, including HTML, PDF, and Windows CHM versions.

The primary document is the Texinfo file. The HTML version is produced automatically using a modified version of texi2html. The plain text and Info versions are produced with makeinfo. The PostScript version is produced using texi2dvi and dvips. The PDF version is produced with pdftex.

If you have any suggestions concerning additions or corrections to this manual, please send them to the documentation team at

This manual was initially written by David Axmark and Michael ``Monty'' Widenius. It is now maintained by the MySQL Documentation Team, consisting of Paul DuBois, Stefan Hinz, Mike Hillyer, and Jon Stephens. For the many other contributors, see section B Credits.

The copyright (2004) to this manual is owned by the Swedish company MySQL AB. MySQL and the MySQL logo are (registered) trademarks of MySQL AB. Other trademarks and registered trademarks referred to in this manual are the property of their respective owners, and are used for identification purposes only.

1.1.1 Conventions Used in This Manual

This manual uses certain typographical conventions:

Constant-width font is used for command names and options; SQL statements; database, table, and column names; C and Perl code; and environment variables. Example: ``To see how mysqladmin works, invoke it with the --help option.''
constant italic
Italic constant-width font is used to indicate variable input for which you should substitute a value of your own choosing.
Constant-width font with surrounding quotes is used for filenames and pathnames. Example: ``The distribution is installed under the `/usr/local/' directory.''
Constant-width font with surrounding quotes is also used to indicate character sequences. Example: ``To specify a wildcard, use the `%' character.''
Italic font is used for emphasis, like this.
Boldface font is used in table headings and to convey especially strong emphasis.

When commands are shown that are meant to be executed from within a particular program, the program is indicated by a prompt shown before the command. For example, shell> indicates a command that you execute from your login shell, and mysql> indicates a statement that you execute from the mysql client program:

shell> type a shell command here
mysql> type a mysql statement here

The ``shell'' is your command interpreter. On Unix, this is typically a program such as sh or csh. On Windows, the equivalent program is or cmd.exe, typically run in a console window.

When you enter a command or statement shown in an example, do not type the prompt shown in the example.

Database, table, and column names must often be substituted into statements. To indicate that such substitution is necessary, this manual uses db_name, tbl_name, and col_name. For example, you might see a statement like this:

mysql> SELECT col_name FROM db_name.tbl_name;

This means that if you were to enter a similar statement, you would supply your own database, table, and column names, perhaps like this:

mysql> SELECT author_name FROM biblio_db.author_list;

SQL keywords are not case sensitive and may be written in uppercase or lowercase. This manual uses uppercase.

In syntax descriptions, square brackets (`[' and `]') are used to indicate optional words or clauses. For example, in the following statement, IF EXISTS is optional:


When a syntax element consists of a number of alternatives, the alternatives are separated by vertical bars (`|'). When one member from a set of choices may be chosen, the alternatives are listed within square brackets (`[' and `]'):


When one member from a set of choices must be chosen, the alternatives are listed within braces (`{' and `}'):

{DESCRIBE | DESC} tbl_name [col_name | wild]

An ellipsis (...) indicates the omission of a section of a statement, typically to provide a shorter version of more complex syntax. For example, INSERT ... SELECT is shorthand for the form of INSERT statement that is followed by a SELECT statement.

An ellipsis can also indicate that the preceding syntax element of a statement may be repeated. In the following example, multiple reset_option values may be given, with each of those after the first preceded by commas:

RESET reset_option [,reset_option] ...

Commands for setting shell variables are shown using Bourne shell syntax. For example, the sequence to set an environment variable and run a command looks like this in Bourne shell syntax:

shell> VARNAME=value some_command

If you are using csh or tcsh, you must issue commands somewhat differently. You would execute the sequence just shown like this:

shell> setenv VARNAME value
shell> some_command

1.2 Overview of the MySQL Database Management System

MySQL, the most popular Open Source SQL database management system, is developed, distributed, and supported by MySQL AB. MySQL AB is a commercial company, founded by the MySQL developers. It is a second generation Open Source company that unites Open Source values and methodology with a successful business model.

The MySQL Web site ( provides the latest information about MySQL software and MySQL AB.

MySQL is a database management system.
A database is a structured collection of data. It may be anything from a simple shopping list to a picture gallery or the vast amounts of information in a corporate network. To add, access, and process data stored in a computer database, you need a database management system such as MySQL Server. Since computers are very good at handling large amounts of data, database management systems play a central role in computing, as standalone utilities or as parts of other applications.
MySQL is a relational database management system.
A relational database stores data in separate tables rather than putting all the data in one big storeroom. This adds speed and flexibility. The SQL part of ``MySQL'' stands for ``Structured Query Language.'' SQL is the most common standardized language used to access databases and is defined by the ANSI/ISO SQL Standard. The SQL standard has been evolving since 1986 and several versions exist. In this manual, ``SQL-92'' refers to the standard released in 1992, ``SQL:1999'' refers to the standard released in 1999, and ``SQL:2003'' refers to the current version of the standard. We use the phrase ``the SQL standard'' to mean the current version of the SQL Standard at any time.
MySQL software is Open Source.
Open Source means that it is possible for anyone to use and modify the software. Anybody can download the MySQL software from the Internet and use it without paying anything. If you wish, you may study the source code and change it to suit your needs. The MySQL software uses the GPL (GNU General Public License),, to define what you may and may not do with the software in different situations. If you feel uncomfortable with the GPL or need to embed MySQL code into a commercial application, you can buy a commercially licensed version from us. See the MySQL Licensing Overview for more information (
The MySQL Database Server is very fast, reliable, and easy to use.
If that is what you are looking for, you should give it a try. MySQL Server also has a practical set of features developed in close cooperation with our users. You can find a performance comparison of MySQL Server with other database managers on our benchmark page. See section 7.1.4 The MySQL Benchmark Suite. MySQL Server was originally developed to handle large databases much faster than existing solutions and has been successfully used in highly demanding production environments for several years. Although under constant development, MySQL Server today offers a rich and useful set of functions. Its connectivity, speed, and security make MySQL Server highly suited for accessing databases on the Internet.
MySQL Server works in client/server or embedded systems.
The MySQL Database Software is a client/server system that consists of a multi-threaded SQL server that supports different backends, several different client programs and libraries, administrative tools, and a wide range of application programming interfaces (APIs). We also provide MySQL Server as an embedded multi-threaded library that you can link into your application to get a smaller, faster, easier-to-manage product.
A large amount of contributed MySQL software is available.
It is very likely that you will find that your favorite application or language already supports the MySQL Database Server.

The official way to pronounce ``MySQL'' is ``My Ess Que Ell'' (not ``my sequel''), but we don't mind if you pronounce it as ``my sequel'' or in some other localized way.

1.2.1 History of MySQL

We started out with the intention of using mSQL to connect to our tables using our own fast low-level (ISAM) routines. However, after some testing, we came to the conclusion that mSQL was not fast enough or flexible enough for our needs. This resulted in a new SQL interface to our database but with almost the same API interface as mSQL. This API was designed to allow third-party code that was written for use with mSQL to be ported easily for use with MySQL.

The derivation of the name MySQL is not clear. Our base directory and a large number of our libraries and tools have had the prefix ``my'' for well over 10 years. However, co-founder Monty Widenius's daughter is also named My. Which of the two gave its name to MySQL is still a mystery, even for us.

The name of the MySQL Dolphin (our logo) is ``Sakila,'' which was chosen by the founders of MySQL AB from a huge list of names suggested by users in our ``Name the Dolphin'' contest. The winning name was submitted by Ambrose Twebaze, an Open Source software developer from Swaziland, Africa. According to Ambrose, the name Sakila has its roots in SiSwati, the local language of Swaziland. Sakila is also the name of a town in Arusha, Tanzania, near Ambrose's country of origin, Uganda.

1.2.2 The Main Features of MySQL

The following list describes some of the important characteristics of the MySQL Database Software. See also section 1.3 MySQL Development Roadmap for more information about current and upcoming features.

Internals and Portability
  • Written in C and C++.
  • Tested with a broad range of different compilers.
  • Works on many different platforms. See section 2.1.1 Operating Systems Supported by MySQL.
  • Uses GNU Automake, Autoconf, and Libtool for portability.
  • APIs for C, C++, Eiffel, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Tcl are available. See section 21 MySQL APIs.
  • Fully multi-threaded using kernel threads. It can easily use multiple CPUs if they are available.
  • Provides transactional and non-transactional storage engines.
  • Uses very fast B-tree disk tables (MyISAM) with index compression.
  • Relatively easy to add another storage engine. This is useful if you want to add an SQL interface to an in-house database.
  • A very fast thread-based memory allocation system.
  • Very fast joins using an optimized one-sweep multi-join.
  • In-memory hash tables, which are used as temporary tables.
  • SQL functions are implemented using a highly optimized class library and should be as fast as possible. Usually there is no memory allocation at all after query initialization.
  • The MySQL code is tested with Purify (a commercial memory leakage detector) as well as with Valgrind, a GPL tool (
  • The server is available as a separate program for use in a client/server networked environment. It is also available as a library that can be embedded (linked) into standalone applications. Such applications can be used in isolation or in environments where no network is available.
Column Types
  • Many column types: signed/unsigned integers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 bytes long, FLOAT, DOUBLE, CHAR, VARCHAR, TEXT, BLOB, DATE, TIME, DATETIME, TIMESTAMP, YEAR, SET, ENUM, and OpenGIS spatial types. See section 11 Column Types.
  • Fixed-length and variable-length records.
Statements and Functions
  • Full operator and function support in the SELECT and WHERE clauses of queries. For example:
    mysql> SELECT CONCAT(first_name, ' ', last_name)
        -> FROM citizen
        -> WHERE income/dependents > 10000 AND age > 30;
  • Full support for SQL GROUP BY and ORDER BY clauses. Support for group functions (COUNT(), COUNT(DISTINCT ...), AVG(), STD(), SUM(), MAX(), MIN(), and GROUP_CONCAT()).
  • Support for LEFT OUTER JOIN and RIGHT OUTER JOIN with both standard SQL and ODBC syntax.
  • Support for aliases on tables and columns as required by standard SQL.
  • DELETE, INSERT, REPLACE, and UPDATE return the number of rows that were changed (affected). It is possible to return the number of rows matched instead by setting a flag when connecting to the server.
  • The MySQL-specific SHOW command can be used to retrieve information about databases, tables, and indexes. The EXPLAIN command can be used to determine how the optimizer resolves a query.
  • Function names do not clash with table or column names. For example, ABS is a valid column name. The only restriction is that for a function call, no spaces are allowed between the function name and the `(' that follows it. See section 9.6 Treatment of Reserved Words in MySQL.
  • You can mix tables from different databases in the same query (as of MySQL 3.22).
  • A privilege and password system that is very flexible and secure, and that allows host-based verification. Passwords are secure because all password traffic is encrypted when you connect to a server.
Scalability and Limits
  • Handles large databases. We use MySQL Server with databases that contain 50 million records. We also know of users who use MySQL Server with 60,000 tables and about 5,000,000,000 rows.
  • Up to 64 indexes per table are allowed (32 before MySQL 4.1.2). Each index may consist of 1 to 16 columns or parts of columns. The maximum index width is 1000 bytes (500 before MySQL 4.1.2). An index may use a prefix of a column for CHAR, VARCHAR, BLOB, or TEXT column types.
  • Clients can connect to the MySQL server using TCP/IP sockets on any platform. On Windows systems in the NT family (NT, 2000, XP, or 2003), clients can connect using named pipes. On Unix systems, clients can connect using Unix domain socket files.
  • In MySQL versions 4.1 and higher, Windows servers also support shared-memory connections if started with the --shared-memory option. Clients can connect through shared memory by using the --protocol=memory option.
  • The Connector/ODBC (MyODBC) interface provides MySQL support for client programs that use ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) connections. For example, you can use MS Access to connect to your MySQL server. Clients can be run on Windows or Unix. MyODBC source is available. All ODBC 2.5 functions are supported, as are many others. See section 22.1 MySQL ODBC Support.
  • The Connector/J interface provides MySQL support for Java client programs that use JDBC connections. Clients can be run on Windows or Unix. Connector/J source is available. See section 22.2 MySQL Java Connectivity (JDBC).
  • The server can provide error messages to clients in many languages. See section 5.8.2 Setting the Error Message Language.
  • Full support for several different character sets, including latin1 (ISO-8859-1), german, big5, ujis, and more. For example, the Scandinavian characters `â', `ä' and `ö' are allowed in table and column names. Unicode support is available as of MySQL 4.1.
  • All data is saved in the chosen character set. All comparisons for normal string columns are case-insensitive.
  • Sorting is done according to the chosen character set (using Swedish collation by default). It is possible to change this when the MySQL server is started. To see an example of very advanced sorting, look at the Czech sorting code. MySQL Server supports many different character sets that can be specified at compile time and runtime.
Clients and Tools
  • The MySQL server has built-in support for SQL statements to check, optimize, and repair tables. These statements are available from the command line through the mysqlcheck client. MySQL also includes myisamchk, a very fast command-line utility for performing these operations on MyISAM tables. See section 5 Database Administration.
  • All MySQL programs can be invoked with the --help or -? options to obtain online assistance.

1.2.3 MySQL Stability

This section addresses the questions, ``How stable is MySQL Server?'' and, ``Can I depend on MySQL Server in this project?'' We will try to clarify these issues and answer some important questions that concern many potential users. The information in this section is based on data gathered from the mailing lists, which are very active in identifying problems as well as reporting types of use.

The original code stems back to the early 1980s. It provides a stable code base, and the ISAM table format used by the original storage engine remains backward-compatible. At TcX, the predecessor of MySQL AB, MySQL code has worked in projects since mid-1996, without any problems. When the MySQL Database Software initially was released to a wider public, our new users quickly found some pieces of untested code. Each new release since then has had fewer portability problems, even though each new release has also had many new features.

Each release of the MySQL Server has been usable. Problems have occurred only when users try code from the ``gray zones.'' Naturally, new users don't know what the gray zones are; this section therefore attempts to document those areas that are currently known. The descriptions mostly deal with Version 3.23, 4.0 and 4.1 of MySQL Server. All known and reported bugs are fixed in the latest version, with the exception of those listed in the bugs section, which are design-related. See section 1.5.7 Known Errors and Design Deficiencies in MySQL.

The MySQL Server design is multi-layered with independent modules. Some of the newer modules are listed here with an indication of how well-tested each of them is:

Replication (Stable)
Large groups of servers using replication are in production use, with good results. Work on enhanced replication features is continuing in MySQL 5.x.
InnoDB tables (Stable)
The InnoDB transactional storage engine has been declared stable in the MySQL 3.23 tree, starting from version 3.23.49. InnoDB is being used in large, heavy-load production systems.
BDB tables (Stable)
The Berkeley DB code is very stable, but we are still improving the BDB transactional storage engine interface in MySQL Server.
Full-text searches (Stable)
Full-text searching is widely used. Important feature enhancements were added in MySQL 4.0 and 4.1.
MyODBC 3.51 (Stable)
MyODBC 3.51 uses ODBC SDK 3.51 and is in wide production use. Some issues brought up appear to be application-related and independent of the ODBC driver or underlying database server.

1.2.4 How Big MySQL Tables Can Be

MySQL 3.22 had a 4GB (4 gigabyte) limit on table size. With the MyISAM storage engine in MySQL 3.23, the maximum table size was increased to 8 million terabytes (2 ^ 63 bytes). With this larger allowed table size, the maximum effective table size for MySQL databases now usually is determined by operating system constraints on file sizes, not by MySQL internal limits.

The InnoDB storage engine maintains InnoDB tables within a tablespace that can be created from several files. This allows a table to exceed the maximum individual file size. The tablespace can include raw disk partitions, which allows extremely large tables. The maximum tablespace size is 64TB.

The following table lists some examples of operating system file-size limits. This is only a rough guide and is not intended to be definitive. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to check the documentation specific to your operating system.

Operating System File-size Limit
Linux 2.2-Intel 32-bit 2GB (LFS: 4GB)
Linux 2.4 (using ext3 filesystem) 4TB
Solaris 9/10 16TB
NetWare w/NSS filesystem 8TB
win32 w/ FAT/FAT32 2GB/4GB
win32 w/ NTFS 2TB (possibly larger)
MacOS X w/ HFS+ 2TB

On Linux 2.2, you can get MyISAM tables larger than 2GB in size by using the Large File Support (LFS) patch for the ext2 filesystem. On Linux 2.4, patches also exist for ReiserFS to get support for big files (up to 2TB). Most current Linux distributions are based on kernel 2.4 and already include all the required LFS patches. With JFS and XFS, petabyte and larger files are possible on Linux. However, the maximum available file size still depends on several factors, one of them being the filesystem used to store MySQL tables.

For a detailed overview about LFS in Linux, have a look at Andreas Jaeger's Large File Support in Linux page at

Windows users please note: FAT and VFAT (FAT32) are not considered suitable for production use with MySQL. Use NTFS instead.

By default, MySQL creates MyISAM tables with an internal structure that allows a maximum size of about 4GB. You can check the maximum table size for a table with the SHOW TABLE STATUS statement or with myisamchk -dv tbl_name. See section 13.5.4 SHOW Syntax.

If you need a MyISAM table that will be larger than 4GB in size (and your operating system supports large files), the CREATE TABLE statement allows AVG_ROW_LENGTH and MAX_ROWS options. See section 13.2.6 CREATE TABLE Syntax. You can also change these options with ALTER TABLE after the table has been created, to increase the table's maximum allowable size. See section 13.2.2 ALTER TABLE Syntax.

Other ways to work around file-size limits for MyISAM tables are as follows:

  • If your large table is read-only, you can use myisampack to compress it. myisampack usually compresses a table by at least 50%, so you can have, in effect, much bigger tables. myisampack also can merge multiple tables into a single table. See section 8.2 myisampack, the MySQL Compressed Read-only Table Generator.
  • Another way to get around the operating system file limit for MyISAM data files is by using the RAID options. See section 13.2.6 CREATE TABLE Syntax.
  • MySQL includes a MERGE library that allows you to handle a collection of MyISAM tables that have identical structure as a single MERGE table. See section 14.2 The MERGE Storage Engine.

1.2.5 Year 2000 Compliance

The MySQL Server itself has no problems with Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance:

  • MySQL Server uses Unix time functions that handle dates into the year 2037 for TIMESTAMP values. For DATE and DATETIME values, dates through the year 9999 are accepted.
  • All MySQL date functions are implemented in one source file, `sql/', and are coded very carefully to be year 2000-safe.
  • In MySQL 3.22 and later, the YEAR column type can store years 0 and 1901 to 2155 in one byte and display them using two or four digits. All two-digit years are considered to be in the range 1970 to 2069, which means that if you store 01 in a YEAR column, MySQL Server treats it as 2001.

The following simple demonstration illustrates that MySQL Server has no problems with DATE or DATETIME values through the year 9999, and no problems with TIMESTAMP values until after the year 2030:

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

mysql> CREATE TABLE y2k (date DATE,
    ->                   date_time DATETIME,
    ->                   time_stamp TIMESTAMP);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

    -> ('1998-12-31','1998-12-31 23:59:59',19981231235959),
    -> ('1999-01-01','1999-01-01 00:00:00',19990101000000),
    -> ('1999-09-09','1999-09-09 23:59:59',19990909235959),
    -> ('2000-01-01','2000-01-01 00:00:00',20000101000000),
    -> ('2000-02-28','2000-02-28 00:00:00',20000228000000),
    -> ('2000-02-29','2000-02-29 00:00:00',20000229000000),
    -> ('2000-03-01','2000-03-01 00:00:00',20000301000000),
    -> ('2000-12-31','2000-12-31 23:59:59',20001231235959),
    -> ('2001-01-01','2001-01-01 00:00:00',20010101000000),
    -> ('2004-12-31','2004-12-31 23:59:59',20041231235959),
    -> ('2005-01-01','2005-01-01 00:00:00',20050101000000),
    -> ('2030-01-01','2030-01-01 00:00:00',20300101000000),
    -> ('2040-01-01','2040-01-01 00:00:00',20400101000000),
    -> ('9999-12-31','9999-12-31 23:59:59',99991231235959);
Query OK, 14 rows affected (0.01 sec)
Records: 14  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 2

mysql> SELECT * FROM y2k;
| date       | date_time           | time_stamp     |
| 1998-12-31 | 1998-12-31 23:59:59 | 19981231235959 |
| 1999-01-01 | 1999-01-01 00:00:00 | 19990101000000 |
| 1999-09-09 | 1999-09-09 23:59:59 | 19990909235959 |
| 2000-01-01 | 2000-01-01 00:00:00 | 20000101000000 |
| 2000-02-28 | 2000-02-28 00:00:00 | 20000228000000 |
| 2000-02-29 | 2000-02-29 00:00:00 | 20000229000000 |
| 2000-03-01 | 2000-03-01 00:00:00 | 20000301000000 |
| 2000-12-31 | 2000-12-31 23:59:59 | 20001231235959 |
| 2001-01-01 | 2001-01-01 00:00:00 | 20010101000000 |
| 2004-12-31 | 2004-12-31 23:59:59 | 20041231235959 |
| 2005-01-01 | 2005-01-01 00:00:00 | 20050101000000 |
| 2030-01-01 | 2030-01-01 00:00:00 | 20300101000000 |
| 2040-01-01 | 2040-01-01 00:00:00 | 00000000000000 |
| 9999-12-31 | 9999-12-31 23:59:59 | 00000000000000 |
14 rows in set (0.00 sec)

The final two TIMESTAMP column values are zero because the year values (2040, 9999) exceed the TIMESTAMP maximum. The TIMESTAMP data type, which is used to store the current time, supports values that range from 19700101000000 to 20300101000000 on 32-bit machines (signed value). On 64-bit machines, TIMESTAMP handles values up to 2106 (unsigned value).

Although MySQL Server itself is Y2K-safe, you may run into problems if you use it with applications that are not Y2K-safe. For example, many old applications store or manipulate years using two-digit values (which are ambiguous) rather than four-digit values. This problem may be compounded by applications that use values such as 00 or 99 as ``missing'' value indicators. Unfortunately, these problems may be difficult to fix because different applications may be written by different programmers, each of whom may use a different set of conventions and date-handling functions.

Thus, even though MySQL Server has no Y2K problems, it is the application's responsibility to provide unambiguous input. See section 11.3.4 Y2K Issues and Date Types for MySQL Server's rules for dealing with ambiguous date input data that contains two-digit year values.

1.3 MySQL Development Roadmap

This section provides a snapshot of the MySQL development roadmap, including major features implemented or planned for MySQL 4.0, 4.1, 5.0, and 5.1. The following sections provide information for each release series.

The current production release series is MySQL 4.1, which was declared stable for production use as of Version 4.1.7, released in October 2004. The previous production release series is MySQL 4.0, which was declared stable for production use as of Version 4.0.12, released in March 2003. Production status means that future 4.1 and 4.0 development is limited only to bugfixes. For the older MySQL 3.23 series, only critical bugfixes are made.

Active MySQL development currently is taking place in the MySQL 5.0 release series, this means that new features are being added there. MySQL 5.0 is available in alpha status.

Before upgrading from one release series to the next, please see the notes at section 2.10 Upgrading MySQL.

Plans for some of the most requested features are summarized in the following table.

Feature MySQL Series
Unions 4.0
Subqueries 4.1
R-trees 4.1 (for MyISAM tables)
Stored procedures 5.0
Views 5.0
Cursors 5.0
Foreign keys 5.1 (already implemented in 3.23 for InnoDB)
Triggers 5.0 and 5.1
Full outer join 5.1
Constraints 5.1

1.3.1 MySQL 4.0 in a Nutshell

MySQL Server 4.0 is available in production status.

MySQL 4.0 is available for download at and from our mirrors. MySQL 4.0 has been tested by a large number of users and is in production use at many large sites.

The major new features of MySQL Server 4.0 are geared toward our existing business and community users, enhancing the MySQL database software as the solution for mission-critical, heavy-load database systems. Other new features target the users of embedded databases. Features Available in MySQL 4.0

Speed enhancements
  • MySQL 4.0 has a query cache that can give a huge speed boost to applications with repetitive queries. See section 5.11 The MySQL Query Cache.
  • Version 4.0 further increases the speed of MySQL Server in a number of areas, such as bulk INSERT statements, searching on packed indexes, full-text searching (using FULLTEXT indexes), and COUNT(DISTINCT).
Embedded MySQL Server introduced
  • The new Embedded Server library can easily be used to create standalone and embedded applications. The embedded server provides an alternative to using MySQL in a client/server environment. See section The Embedded MySQL Server.
InnoDB storage engine as standard
  • The InnoDB storage engine is offered as a standard feature of the MySQL server. This means full support for ACID transactions, foreign keys with cascading UPDATE and DELETE, and row-level locking are now standard features. See section 15 The InnoDB Storage Engine.
New functionality
  • The enhanced FULLTEXT search properties of MySQL Server 4.0 enables FULLTEXT indexing of large text masses with both binary and natural-language searching logic. You can customize minimal word length and define your own stop word lists in any human language, enabling a new set of applications to be built with MySQL Server. See section 12.6 Full-Text Search Functions.
Standards compliance, portability, and migration
  • Many users will also be happy to learn that MySQL Server now supports the UNION statement, a long-awaited standard SQL feature.
  • MySQL runs natively on the Novell NetWare platform beginning with NetWare 6.0. See section 2.6 Installing MySQL on NetWare.
  • Features to simplify migration from other database systems to MySQL Server include TRUNCATE TABLE (as in Oracle).
  • Our German, Austrian, and Swiss users will note that MySQL 4.0 now supports a new character set, latin1_de, which ensures that the German sorting order sorts words with umlauts in the same order as do German telephone books.
Usability enhancements
In the process of implementing features for new users, we have not forgotten requests from our loyal community of existing users.
  • Most mysqld parameters (startup options) can be set without taking down the server. This is a convenient feature for database administrators (DBAs). See section 13.5.3 SET Syntax.
  • Multiple-table DELETE and UPDATE statements have been added.
  • On Windows, symbolic link handling at the database level is enabled by default. On Unix, the MyISAM storage engine supports symbolic linking at the table level (and not just the database level as before).
  • SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS and FOUND_ROWS() are new functions that make it possible to find out the number of rows a SELECT query that includes a LIMIT clause would have returned without that clause.

The news section of this manual includes a more in-depth list of features. See section D.3 Changes in release 4.0.x (Production). The Embedded MySQL Server

The libmysqld embedded server library makes MySQL Server suitable for a vastly expanded realm of applications. By using this library, developers can embed MySQL Server into various applications and electronics devices, where the end user has no knowledge of there actually being an underlying database. Embedded MySQL Server is ideal for use behind the scenes in Internet appliances, public kiosks, turnkey hardware/software combination units, high performance Internet servers, self-contained databases distributed on CD-ROM, and so on.

Many users of libmysqld will benefit from the MySQL Dual Licensing. For those not wishing to be bound by the GPL, the software is also made available under a commercial license. See for more information on the licensing policy of MySQL AB. The embedded MySQL library uses the same interface as the normal client library, so it is convenient and easy to use. See section 21.2.16 libmysqld, the Embedded MySQL Server Library.

On Windows there are two different libraries:

libmysqld.lib Dynamic library for threaded applications.
mysqldemb.lib Static library for not threaded applications.

1.3.2 MySQL 4.1 in a Nutshell

MySQL Server 4.0 laid the foundation for new features implemented in MySQL 4.1, such as subqueries and Unicode support, and for the work on stored procedures being done in version 5.0. These features come at the top of the wish list of many of our customers. Already well-known for its stability, speed, and ease of use, MySQL Server is now able to fulfill the requirement checklists of very demanding buyers.

MySQL Server 4.1 is currently in production status, and binaries are available for download at All binary releases pass our extensive test suite without any errors on the platforms on which we test. See section D.2 Changes in release 4.1.x (Production).

For those wishing to use the most recent development source for MySQL 4.1, we also make our BitKeeper repositories publicly available. See section 2.8.3 Installing from the Development Source Tree. Features Available in MySQL 4.1

This section lists features implemented in MySQL 4.1. New features that will be available in MySQL 5.0 are described in section C.1 New Features Planned for 5.0.

Support for subqueries and derived tables
  • A ``subquery'' is a SELECT statement nested within another statement. A ``derived table'' (an unnamed view) is a subquery in the FROM clause of another statement. See section 13.1.8 Subquery Syntax.
Speed enhancements
  • Faster binary client/server protocol with support for prepared statements and parameter binding. See section 21.2.4 C API Prepared Statements.
  • BTREE indexing is supported for HEAP tables, significantly improving response time for non-exact searches.
New functionality
  • CREATE TABLE tbl_name2 LIKE tbl_name1 allows you to create, with a single statement, a new table with a structure exactly like that of an existing table.
  • The MyISAM storage engine supports OpenGIS spatial types for storing geographical data. See section 18 Spatial Extensions in MySQL.
  • Replication can be done over SSL connections.
Standards compliance, portability, and migration
  • The new client/server protocol adds the ability to pass multiple warnings to the client, rather than only a single result. This makes it much easier to track problems that occur in operations such as bulk data loading.
  • SHOW WARNINGS shows warnings for the last command. See section SHOW WARNINGS Syntax.
Internationalization and Localization
  • To support applications that require the use of local languages, the MySQL software offers extensive Unicode support through the utf8 and ucs2 character sets.
  • Character sets can be defined per column, table, and database. This allows for a high degree of flexibility in application design, particularly for multi-language Web sites.
  • For documentation for this improved character set support, see section 10 Character Set Support.
  • Per-connection time zones are supported, allowing individual clients to select their own time zone when necessary.
Usability enhancements
  • In response to popular demand, we have added a server-based HELP command that can be used to get help information for SQL statements. The advantage of having this information on the server side is that the information is always applicable to the particular server version that you actually are using. Because this information is available by issuing an SQL statement, any client can be written to access it. For example, the help command of the mysql command-line client has been modified to have this capability.
  • In the new client/server protocol, multiple statements can be issued with a single call. See section 21.2.9 C API Handling of Multiple Query Execution.
  • The new client/server protocol also supports returning multiple result sets. This might occur as a result of sending multiple statements, for example.
  • A new INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE ... syntax has been implemented. This allows you to UPDATE an existing row if the INSERT would have caused a duplicate in a PRIMARY or UNIQUE index. See section 13.1.4 INSERT Syntax.
  • A new aggregate function, GROUP_CONCAT() adds the extremely useful capability of concatenating column values from grouped rows into a single result string. See section 12.9 Functions and Modifiers for Use with GROUP BY Clauses.

The news section of this manual includes a more in-depth list of features. See section D.2 Changes in release 4.1.x (Production).

1.3.3 MySQL 5.0: The Next Development Release

New development for MySQL is focused on the 5.0 release, featuring stored procedures, views (including updatable views), rudimentary triggers, and other new features. See section C.1 New Features Planned for 5.0.

For those wishing to take a look at the bleeding edge of MySQL development, we make our BitKeeper repository for MySQL version 5.0 publicly available. See section 2.8.3 Installing from the Development Source Tree. As of December 2003, binary builds of version 5.0 have also been available.

1.4 MySQL Information Sources

1.4.1 MySQL Mailing Lists

This section introduces the MySQL mailing lists and provides guidelines as to how the lists should be used. When you subscribe to a mailing list, you will receive all postings to the list as email messages. You can also send your own questions and answers to the list. The MySQL Mailing Lists

To subscribe to or unsubscribe from any of the mailing lists described in this section, visit For most of them, you can select the regular version of the list where you get individual messages, or a digest version where you get one large message per day.

Please do not send messages about subscribing or unsubscribing to any of the mailing lists, because such messages are distributed automatically to thousands of other users.

Your local site may have many subscribers to a MySQL mailing list. If so, the site may have a local mailing list, so that messages sent from to your site are propagated to the local list. In such cases, please contact your system administrator to be added to or dropped from the local MySQL list.

If you wish to have traffic for a mailing list go to a separate mailbox in your mail program, set up a filter based on the message headers. You can use either the List-ID: or Delivered-To: headers to identify list messages.

The MySQL mailing lists are as follows:

This list is for announcements of new versions of MySQL and related programs. This is a low-volume list to which all MySQL users should subscribe.
This is the main list for general MySQL discussion. Please note that some topics are better discussed on the more-specialized lists. If you post to the wrong list, you may not get an answer.
This list will be of interest to you if you want to stay informed about issues reported since the last release of MySQL or if you want to be actively involved in the process of bug hunting and fixing. See section How to Report Bugs or Problems.
This list is for people who work on the MySQL code. This is also the forum for discussions on MySQL development and for posting patches.
This list is for people who work on the MySQL documentation: people from MySQL AB, translators, and other community members.
This list is for anyone interested in performance issues. Discussions concentrate on database performance (not limited to MySQL), but also include broader categories such as performance of the kernel, filesystem, disk system, and so on.
This list is for discussions on packaging and distributing MySQL. This is the forum used by distribution maintainers to exchange ideas on packaging MySQL and on ensuring that MySQL looks and feels as similar as possible on all supported platforms and operating systems.
This list is for discussions about the MySQL server and Java. It is mostly used to discuss JDBC drivers, including MySQL Connector/J.
This list is for all topics concerning the MySQL software on Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows 9x, Me, NT, 2000, XP, and 2003.
This list is for all topics concerning connecting to the MySQL server with ODBC.
This list is for all topics concerning MySQL GUI tools, including MySQL Administrator and the MySQL Control Center graphical client.
This list is for discussion of MySQL Cluster.
This list is for discussion of the MySQL server and the .NET platform. Mostly related to the MySQL Connector/Net provider.
This list is for all topics concerning programming with the C++ API for MySQL.
This list is for all topics concerning the Perl support for MySQL with DBD::mysql.

If you're unable to get an answer to your questions from a MySQL mailing list, one option is to purchase support from MySQL AB. This will put you in direct contact with MySQL developers.

The following table shows some MySQL mailing lists in languages other than English. These lists are not operated by MySQL AB.
A French mailing list.
A Korean mailing list. Email subscribe mysql your@email.address to this list.
A German mailing list. Email subscribe mysql-de your@email.address to this list. You can find information about this mailing list at
A Portuguese mailing list. Email subscribe mysql-br your@email.address to this list.
A Spanish mailing list. Email subscribe mysql your@email.address to this list. Asking Questions or Reporting Bugs

Before posting a bug report or question, please do the following:

If you can't find an answer in the manual or the archives, check with your local MySQL expert. If you still can't find an answer to your question, please follow the guidelines on sending mail to a MySQL mailing list, outlined in the next section, before contacting us. How to Report Bugs or Problems

The normal place to report bugs is, which is the address for our bugs database. This database is public, and can be browsed and searched by anyone. If you log in to the system, you will also be able to enter new reports.

Writing a good bug report takes patience, but doing it right the first time saves time both for us and for yourself. A good bug report, containing a full test case for the bug, makes it very likely that we will fix the bug in the next release. This section will help you write your report correctly so that you don't waste your time doing things that may not help us much or at all.

We encourage everyone to use the mysqlbug script to generate a bug report (or a report about any problem). mysqlbug can be found in the `scripts' directory (source distribution) and in the `bin' directory under your MySQL installation directory (binary distribution). If you are unable to use mysqlbug (for example, if you are running on Windows), it is still vital that you include all the necessary information noted in this section (most importantly, a description of the operating system and the MySQL version).

The mysqlbug script helps you generate a report by determining much of the following information automatically, but if something important is missing, please include it with your message. Please read this section carefully and make sure that all the information described here is included in your report.

Preferably, you should test the problem using the latest production or development version of MySQL Server before posting. Anyone should be able to repeat the bug by just using mysql test < script_file on the included test case or by running the shell or Perl script that is included in the bug report.

All bugs posted in the bugs database at will be corrected or documented in the next MySQL release. If only minor code changes are needed to correct a problem, we may also post a patch that fixes the problem.

If you have found a sensitive security bug in MySQL, you can send email to

If you have a repeatable bug report, please report it to the bugs database at Note that even in this case it's good to run the mysqlbug script first to find information about your system. Any bug that we are able to repeat has a high chance of being fixed in the next MySQL release.

To report other problems, you can use one of the MySQL mailing lists.

Remember that it is possible for us to respond to a message containing too much information, but not to one containing too little. People often omit facts because they think they know the cause of a problem and assume that some details don't matter. A good principle is this: If you are in doubt about stating something, state it. It is faster and less troublesome to write a couple more lines in your report than to wait longer for the answer if we must ask you to provide information that was missing from the initial report.

The most common errors made in bug reports are (a) not including the version number of the MySQL distribution used, and (b) not fully describing the platform on which the MySQL server is installed (including the platform type and version number). This is highly relevant information, and in 99 cases out of 100, the bug report is useless without it. Very often we get questions like, ``Why doesn't this work for me?'' Then we find that the feature requested wasn't implemented in that MySQL version, or that a bug described in a report has already been fixed in newer MySQL versions. Sometimes the error is platform-dependent; in such cases, it is next to impossible for us to fix anything without knowing the operating system and the version number of the platform.

If you compiled MySQL from source, remember also to provide information about your compiler, if it is related to the problem. Often people find bugs in compilers and think the problem is MySQL-related. Most compilers are under development all the time and become better version by version. To determine whether your problem depends on your compiler, we need to know what compiler you use. Note that every compiling problem should be regarded as a bug and reported accordingly.

It is most helpful when a good description of the problem is included in the bug report. That is, give a good example of everything you did that led to the problem and describe, in exact detail, the problem itself. The best reports are those that include a full example showing how to reproduce the bug or problem. See section E.1.6 Making a Test Case If You Experience Table Corruption.

If a program produces an error message, it is very important to include the message in your report. If we try to search for something from the archives using programs, it is better that the error message reported exactly matches the one that the program produces. (Even the lettercase should be observed.) You should never try to reproduce from memory what the error message was; instead, copy and paste the entire message into your report.

If you have a problem with Connector/ODBC (MyODBC), please try to generate a trace file and send it with your report. See section How to Report MyODBC Problems or Bugs.

Please remember that many of the people who will read your report will do so using an 80-column display. When generating reports or examples using the mysql command-line tool, you should therefore use the --vertical option (or the \G statement terminator) for output that would exceed the available width for such a display (for example, with the EXPLAIN SELECT statement; see the example later in this section).

Please include the following information in your report:

  • The version number of the MySQL distribution you are using (for example, MySQL 4.0.12). You can find out which version you are running by executing mysqladmin version. The mysqladmin program can be found in the `bin' directory under your MySQL installation directory.
  • The manufacturer and model of the machine on which you experience the problem.
  • The operating system name and version. If you work with Windows, you can usually get the name and version number by double-clicking your My Computer icon and pulling down the ``Help/About Windows'' menu. For most Unix-like operating systems, you can get this information by executing the command uname -a.
  • Sometimes the amount of memory (real and virtual) is relevant. If in doubt, include these values.
  • If you are using a source distribution of the MySQL software, the name and version number of the compiler used are needed. If you have a binary distribution, the distribution name is needed.
  • If the problem occurs during compilation, include the exact error messages and also a few lines of context around the offending code in the file where the error occurs.
  • If mysqld died, you should also report the query that crashed mysqld. You can usually find this out by running mysqld with query logging enabled, and then looking in the log after mysqld crashes See section E.1.5 Using Log Files to Find Cause of Errors in mysqld.
  • If a database table is related to the problem, include the output from mysqldump --no-data db_name tbl_name. This is very easy to do and is a powerful way to get information about any table in a database. The information will help us create a situation matching the one you have.
  • For speed-related bugs or problems with SELECT statements, you should always include the output of EXPLAIN SELECT ..., and at least the number of rows that the SELECT statement produces. You should also include the output from SHOW CREATE TABLE tbl_name for each involved table. The more information you give about your situation, the more likely it is that someone can help you. The following is an example of a very good bug report. It should be posted with the mysqlbug script. The example uses the mysql command-line tool. Note the use of the \G statement terminator for statements whose output width would otherwise exceed that of an 80-column display device.
    mysql> SHOW VARIABLES;
    mysql> SHOW COLUMNS FROM ...\G
           <output from SHOW COLUMNS>
    mysql> EXPLAIN SELECT ...\G
           <output from EXPLAIN>
    mysql> FLUSH STATUS;
    mysql> SELECT ...;
           <A short version of the output from SELECT,
           including the time taken to run the query>
    mysql> SHOW STATUS;
           <output from SHOW STATUS>
  • If a bug or problem occurs while running mysqld, try to provide an input script that will reproduce the anomaly. This script should include any necessary source files. The more closely the script can reproduce your situation, the better. If you can make a reproducible test case, you should post it on for high-priority treatment. If you can't provide a script, you should at least include the output from mysqladmin variables extended-status processlist in your mail to provide some information on how your system is performing.
  • If you can't produce a test case with only a few rows, or if the test table is too big to be mailed to the mailing list (more than 10 rows), you should dump your tables using mysqldump and create a `README' file that describes your problem. Create a compressed archive of your files using tar and gzip or zip, and use FTP to transfer the archive to Then enter the problem into our bugs database at
  • If you think that the MySQL server produces a strange result from a query, include not only the result, but also your opinion of what the result should be, and an account describing the basis for your opinion.
  • When giving an example of the problem, it's better to use the variable names, table names, and so on that exist in your actual situation than to come up with new names. The problem could be related to the name of a variable or table. These cases are rare, perhaps, but it is better to be safe than sorry. After all, it should be easier for you to provide an example that uses your actual situation, and it is by all means better for us. In case you have data that you don't want to show to others, you can use FTP to transfer it to If the information is really top secret and you don't want to show it even to us, then go ahead and provide an example using other names, but please regard this as the last choice.
  • Include all the options given to the relevant programs, if possible. For example, indicate the options that you use when you start the mysqld server as well as the options that you use to run any MySQL client programs. The options to programs such as mysqld and mysql, and to the configure script, are often keys to answers and are very relevant. It is never a bad idea to include them. If you use any modules, such as Perl or PHP, please include the version numbers of those as well.
  • If your question is related to the privilege system, please include the output of mysqlaccess, the output of mysqladmin reload, and all the error messages you get when trying to connect. When you test your privileges, you should first run mysqlaccess. After this, execute mysqladmin reload version and try to connect with the program that gives you trouble. mysqlaccess can be found in the `bin' directory under your MySQL installation directory.
  • If you have a patch for a bug, do include it. But don't assume that the patch is all we need, or that we will use it, if you don't provide some necessary information such as test cases showing the bug that your patch fixes. We might find problems with your patch or we might not understand it at all; if so, we can't use it. If we can't verify exactly what the purpose of the patch is, we won't use it. Test cases will help us here. Show that the patch will handle all the situations that may occur. If we find a borderline case (even a rare one) where the patch won't work, it may be useless.
  • Guesses about what the bug is, why it occurs, or what it depends on are usually wrong. Even the MySQL team can't guess such things without first using a debugger to determine the real cause of a bug.
  • Indicate in your bug report that you have checked the reference manual and mail archive so that others know you have tried to solve the problem yourself.
  • If you get a parse error, please check your syntax closely. If you can't find something wrong with it, it's extremely likely that your current version of MySQL Server doesn't support the syntax you are using. If you are using the current version and the manual at doesn't cover the syntax you are using, MySQL Server doesn't support your query. In this case, your only options are to implement the syntax yourself or email and ask for an offer to implement it. If the manual covers the syntax you are using, but you have an older version of MySQL Server, you should check the MySQL change history to see when the syntax was implemented. In this case, you have the option of upgrading to a newer version of MySQL Server. See section D MySQL Change History.
  • If your problem is that your data appears corrupt or you get errors when you access a particular table, you should first check and then try to repair your tables with CHECK TABLE and REPAIR TABLE or with myisamchk. See section 5 Database Administration. If you are running Windows, please verify that lower_case_table_names is 1 or 2 with SHOW VARIABLES LIKE 'lower_case_table_names'.
  • If you often get corrupted tables, you should try to find out when and why this happens. In this case, the error log in the MySQL data directory may contain some information about what happened. (This is the file with the `.err' suffix in the name.) See section 5.9.1 The Error Log. Please include any relevant information from this file in your bug report. Normally mysqld should never crash a table if nothing killed it in the middle of an update. If you can find the cause of mysqld dying, it's much easier for us to provide you with a fix for the problem. See section A.1 How to Determine What Is Causing a Problem.
  • If possible, download and install the most recent version of MySQL Server and check whether it solves your problem. All versions of the MySQL software are thoroughly tested and should work without problems. We believe in making everything as backward-compatible as possible, and you should be able to switch MySQL versions without difficulty. See section 2.1.2 Choosing Which MySQL Distribution to Install.

If you are a support customer, please cross-post the bug report to for higher-priority treatment, as well as to the appropriate mailing list to see whether someone else has experienced (and perhaps solved) the problem.

For information on reporting bugs in MyODBC, see section How to Report MyODBC Problems or Bugs.

For solutions to some common problems, see section A Problems and Common Errors.

When answers are sent to you individually and not to the mailing list, it is considered good etiquette to summarize the answers and send the summary to the mailing list so that others may have the benefit of responses you received that helped you solve your problem. Guidelines for Answering Questions on the Mailing List

If you consider your answer to have broad interest, you may want to post it to the mailing list instead of replying directly to the individual who asked. Try to make your answer general enough that people other than the original poster may benefit from it. When you post to the list, please make sure that your answer is not a duplication of a previous answer.

Try to summarize the essential part of the question in your reply; don't feel obliged to quote the entire original message.

Please don't post mail messages from your browser with HTML mode turned on. Many users don't read mail with a browser.

1.4.2 MySQL Community Support on IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

In addition to the various MySQL mailing lists, you can find experienced community people on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). These are the best networks/channels currently known to us:

  • freenode (see for servers)
    • #mysql Primarily MySQL questions, but other database and general SQL questions are welcome. Questions about PHP, Perl or C in combination with MySQL are also common.
  • EFnet (see for servers)
    • #mysql MySQL questions.

If you are looking for IRC client software to connect to an IRC network, take a look at X-Chat ( X-Chat (GPL licensed) is available for Unix as well as for Windows platforms.

1.4.3 MySQL Community Support at the MySQL Forums

The latest community support resource are the forums at

There are a variety of forums available, grouped in the following general categories:

  • Migration
  • MySQL Usage
  • MySQL Connectors
  • MySQL Technology
  • Business

1.5 MySQL Standards Compliance

This section describes how MySQL relates to the ANSI/ISO SQL standards. MySQL Server has many extensions to the SQL standard, and here you will find out what they are and how to use them. You will also find information about functionality missing from MySQL Server, and how to work around some differences.

The SQL standard has been evolving since 1986 and several versions exist. In this manual, ``SQL-92'' refers to the standard released in 1992, ``SQL:1999'' refers to the standard released in 1999, and ``SQL:2003'' refers to the current version of the standard. We use the phrase ``the SQL standard'' to mean the current version of the SQL Standard at any time.

Our goal is to not restrict MySQL Server usability for any usage without a very good reason for doing so. Even if we don't have the resources to perform development for every possible use, we are always willing to help and offer suggestions to people who are trying to use MySQL Server in new territories.

One of our main goals with the product is to continue to work toward compliance with the SQL standard, but without sacrificing speed or reliability. We are not afraid to add extensions to SQL or support for non-SQL features if this greatly increases the usability of MySQL Server for a large segment of our user base. The HANDLER interface in MySQL Server 4.0 is an example of this strategy. See section 13.1.3 HANDLER Syntax.

We will continue to support transactional and non-transactional databases to satisfy both mission-critical 24/7 usage and heavy Web or logging usage.

MySQL Server was originally designed to work with medium size databases (10-100 million rows, or about 100MB per table) on small computer systems. Today MySQL Server handles terabyte-size databases, but the code can also be compiled in a reduced version suitable for hand-held and embedded devices. The compact design of the MySQL server makes development in both directions possible without any conflicts in the source tree.

Currently, we are not targeting realtime support, although MySQL replication capabilities already offer significant functionality.

Database cluster support now exists through third-party clustering solutions as well as the integration of our acquired NDB Cluster technology into a new storage engine, available from version 4.1.2. See section 16 MySQL Cluster.

We are also looking at providing XML support in the database server.

1.5.1 What Standards MySQL Follows

We are aiming toward supporting the full ANSI/ISO SQL standard, but without making concessions to speed and quality of the code.

ODBC levels 0-3.51.

1.5.2 Selecting SQL Modes

The MySQL server can operate in different SQL modes, and can apply these modes differentially for different clients. This allows an application to tailor server operation to its own requirements.

Modes define what SQL syntax MySQL should support and what kind of validation checks it should perform on the data. This makes it easier to use MySQL in a lot of different environments and to use MySQL together with other database servers.

You can set the default SQL mode by starting mysqld with the --sql-mode="modes" option. Beginning with MySQL 4.1, you can also change the mode after startup time by setting the sql_mode variable with a SET [SESSION|GLOBAL] sql_mode='modes' statement.

For more information on setting the server mode, see section 5.2.2 The Server SQL Mode.

1.5.3 Running MySQL in ANSI Mode

You can tell mysqld to use the ANSI mode with the --ansi startup option. See section 5.2.1 mysqld Command-Line Options.

Running the server in ANSI mode is the same as starting it with these options (specify the --sql_mode value on a single line):


In MySQL 4.1, you can achieve the same effect with these two statements (specify the sql_mode value on a single line):


See section 1.5.2 Selecting SQL Modes.

In MySQL 4.1.1, the sql_mode options shown can be also be set with this statement:

SET GLOBAL sql_mode='ansi';

In this case, the value of the sql_mode variable will be set to all options that are relevant for ANSI mode. You can check the result like this:

mysql> SET GLOBAL sql_mode='ansi';
mysql> SELECT @@global.sql_mode;

1.5.4 MySQL Extensions to Standard SQL

MySQL Server includes some extensions that you probably will not find in other SQL databases. Be warned that if you use them, your code will not be portable to other SQL servers. In some cases, you can write code that includes MySQL extensions, but is still portable, by using comments of the form /*! ... */. In this case, MySQL Server will parse and execute the code within the comment as it would any other MySQL statement, but other SQL servers will ignore the extensions. For example:

SELECT /*! STRAIGHT_JOIN */ col_name FROM table1,table2 WHERE ...

If you add a version number after the `!' character, the syntax within the comment will be executed only if the MySQL version is equal to or newer than the specified version number:


This means that if you have Version 3.23.02 or newer, MySQL Server will use the TEMPORARY keyword.

The following descriptions list MySQL extensions, organized by category.

Organization of data on disk
MySQL Server maps each database to a directory under the MySQL data directory, and tables within a database to filenames in the database directory. This has a few implications:
  • Database names and table names are case sensitive in MySQL Server on operating systems that have case-sensitive filenames (such as most Unix systems). See section 9.2.2 Identifier Case Sensitivity.
  • You can use standard system commands to back up, rename, move, delete, and copy tables that are managed by the MyISAM or ISAM storage engines. For example, to rename a MyISAM table, rename the `.MYD', `.MYI', and `.frm' files to which the table corresponds.
Database, table, index, column, or alias names may begin with a digit (but may not consist solely of digits).
General language syntax
  • Strings may be enclosed by either `"' or `'', not just by `''.
  • Use of `\' as an escape character in strings.
  • In SQL statements, you can access tables from different databases with the db_name.tbl_name syntax. Some SQL servers provide the same functionality but call this User space. MySQL Server doesn't support tablespaces such as used in statements like this: CREATE TABLE ralph.my_table...IN my_tablespace.
SQL statement syntax
  • The CREATE DATABASE and DROP DATABASE statements. See section 13.2.4 CREATE DATABASE Syntax.
  • The DO statement.
  • EXPLAIN SELECT to get a description of how tables are joined.
  • The FLUSH and RESET statements.
  • The SET statement. See section 13.5.3 SET Syntax.
  • The SHOW statement. See section 13.5.4 SHOW Syntax.
  • Use of LOAD DATA INFILE. In many cases, this syntax is compatible with Oracle's LOAD DATA INFILE. See section 13.1.5 LOAD DATA INFILE Syntax.
  • Use of RENAME TABLE. See section 13.2.12 RENAME TABLE Syntax.
  • Use of REPLACE instead of DELETE + INSERT. See section 13.1.6 REPLACE Syntax.
  • Use of CHANGE col_name, DROP col_name, or DROP INDEX, IGNORE or RENAME in an ALTER TABLE statement. Use of multiple ADD, ALTER, DROP, or CHANGE clauses in an ALTER TABLE statement. See section 13.2.2 ALTER TABLE Syntax.
  • Use of index names, indexes on a prefix of a field, and use of INDEX or KEY in a CREATE TABLE statement. See section 13.2.6 CREATE TABLE Syntax.
  • Use of IF EXISTS with DROP TABLE.
  • You can drop multiple tables with a single DROP TABLE statement.
  • The ORDER BY and LIMIT clauses of the UPDATE and DELETE statements.
  • INSERT INTO ... SET col_name = ... syntax.
  • The DELAYED clause of the INSERT and REPLACE statements.
  • The LOW_PRIORITY clause of the INSERT, REPLACE, DELETE, and UPDATE statements.
  • Use of INTO OUTFILE and STRAIGHT_JOIN in a SELECT statement. See section 13.1.7 SELECT Syntax.
  • The SQL_SMALL_RESULT option in a SELECT statement.
  • You don't need to name all selected columns in the GROUP BY part. This gives better performance for some very specific, but quite normal queries. See section 12.9 Functions and Modifiers for Use with GROUP BY Clauses.
  • You can specify ASC and DESC with GROUP BY.
  • The ability to set variables in a statement with the := assignment operator:
    mysql> SELECT @a:=SUM(total),@b=COUNT(*),@a/@b AS avg
        -> FROM test_table;
    mysql> SELECT @t1:=(@t2:=1)+@t3:=4,@t1,@t2,@t3;
Column types
  • The column types MEDIUMINT, SET, ENUM, and the different BLOB and TEXT types.
Functions and operators
  • To make it easier for users who come from other SQL environments, MySQL Server supports aliases for many functions. For example, all string functions support both standard SQL syntax and ODBC syntax.
  • MySQL Server understands the || and && operators to mean logical OR and AND, as in the C programming language. In MySQL Server, || and OR are synonyms, as are && and AND. Because of this nice syntax, MySQL Server doesn't support the standard SQL || operator for string concatenation; use CONCAT() instead. Because CONCAT() takes any number of arguments, it's easy to convert use of the || operator to MySQL Server.
  • Use of COUNT(DISTINCT list) where list has more than one element.
  • All string comparisons are case-insensitive by default, with sort ordering determined by the current character set (ISO-8859-1 Latin1 by default). If you don't like this, you should declare your columns with the BINARY attribute or use the BINARY cast, which causes comparisons to be done using the underlying character code values rather then a lexical ordering.
  • The % operator is a synonym for MOD(). That is, N % M is equivalent to MOD(N,M). % is supported for C programmers and for compatibility with PostgreSQL.
  • The =, <>, <= ,<, >=,>, <<, >>, <=>, AND, OR, or LIKE operators may be used in column comparisons to the left of the FROM in SELECT statements. For example:
    mysql> SELECT col1=1 AND col2=2 FROM tbl_name;
  • The LAST_INSERT_ID() function that returns the most recent AUTO_INCREMENT value. See section 12.8.3 Information Functions.
  • LIKE is allowed on numeric columns.
  • The REGEXP and NOT REGEXP extended regular expression operators.
  • CONCAT() or CHAR() with one argument or more than two arguments. (In MySQL Server, these functions can take any number of arguments.)
  • Use of TRIM() to trim substrings. Standard SQL supports removal of single characters only.
  • The GROUP BY functions STD(), BIT_OR(), BIT_AND(), BIT_XOR(), and GROUP_CONCAT(). See section 12.9 Functions and Modifiers for Use with GROUP BY Clauses.

For a prioritized list indicating when new extensions will be added to MySQL Server, you should consult the online MySQL TODO list at That is the latest version of the TODO list in this manual. See section C MySQL and the Future (the TODO).

1.5.5 MySQL Differences from Standard SQL

We try to make MySQL Server follow the ANSI SQL standard and the ODBC SQL standard, but MySQL Server performs operations differently in some cases: Subqueries

MySQL 4.1 supports subqueries and derived tables. A ``subquery'' is a SELECT statement nested within another statement. A ``derived table'' (an unnamed view) is a subquery in the FROM clause of another statement. See section 13.1.8 Subquery Syntax.

For MySQL versions older than 4.1, most subqueries can be rewritten using joins or other methods. See section Rewriting Subqueries as Joins for Earlier MySQL Versions for examples that show how to do this. SELECT INTO TABLE

MySQL Server doesn't support the Sybase SQL extension: SELECT ... INTO TABLE .... Instead, MySQL Server supports the standard SQL syntax INSERT INTO ... SELECT ..., which is basically the same thing. See section INSERT ... SELECT Syntax.

INSERT INTO tbl_temp2 (fld_id)
    SELECT tbl_temp1.fld_order_id
    FROM tbl_temp1 WHERE tbl_temp1.fld_order_id > 100;

Alternatively, you can use SELECT INTO OUTFILE ... or CREATE TABLE ... SELECT.

From version 5.0, MySQL supports SELECT ... INTO with user variables. The same syntax may also be used inside stored procedures using cursors and local variables. See section SELECT ... INTO Statement. Transactions and Atomic Operations

MySQL Server (version 3.23-max and all versions 4.0 and above) supports transactions with the InnoDB and BDB transactional storage engines. InnoDB provides full ACID compliance. See section 14 MySQL Storage Engines and Table Types.

The other non-transactional storage engines in MySQL Server (such as MyISAM) follow a different paradigm for data integrity called ``atomic operations.'' In transactional terms, MyISAM tables effectively always operate in AUTOCOMMIT=1 mode. Atomic operations often offer comparable integrity with higher performance.

With MySQL Server supporting both paradigms, you can decide whether your applications are best served by the speed of atomic operations or the use of transactional features. This choice can be made on a per-table basis.

As noted, the trade-off for transactional versus non-transactional table types lies mostly in performance. Transactional tables have significantly higher memory and diskspace requirements, and more CPU overhead. On the other hand, transactional table types such as InnoDB also offer many significant features. MySQL Server's modular design allows the concurrent use of different storage engines to suit different requirements and deliver optimum performance in all situations.

But how do you use the features of MySQL Server to maintain rigorous integrity even with the non-transactional MyISAM tables, and how do these features compare with the transactional table types?

  1. If your applications are written in a way that is dependent on being able to call ROLLBACK rather than COMMIT in critical situations, transactions are more convenient. Transactions also ensure that unfinished updates or corrupting activities are not committed to the database; the server is given the opportunity to do an automatic rollback and your database is saved. If you use non-transactional tables, MySQL Server in almost all cases allows you to resolve potential problems by including simple checks before updates and by running simple scripts that check the databases for inconsistencies and automatically repair or warn if such an inconsistency occurs. Note that just by using the MySQL log or even adding one extra log, you can normally fix tables perfectly with no data integrity loss.
  2. More often than not, critical transactional updates can be rewritten to be atomic. Generally speaking, all integrity problems that transactions solve can be done with LOCK TABLES or atomic updates, ensuring that you never will get an automatic abort from the server, which is a common problem with transactional database systems.
  3. Even a transactional system can lose data if the server goes down. The difference between different systems lies in just how small the time-lag is where they could lose data. No system is 100% secure, only ``secure enough.'' Even Oracle, reputed to be the safest of transactional database systems, is reported to sometimes lose data in such situations. To be safe with MySQL Server, whether or not using transactional tables, you only need to have backups and have binary logging turned on. With this you can recover from any situation that you could with any other transactional database system. It is always good to have backups, regardless of which database system you use.

The transactional paradigm has its benefits and its drawbacks. Many users and application developers depend on the ease with which they can code around problems where an abort appears to be, or is necessary. However, even if you are new to the atomic operations paradigm, or more familiar with transactions, do consider the speed benefit that non-transactional tables can offer on the order of three to five times the speed of the fastest and most optimally tuned transactional tables.

In situations where integrity is of highest importance, MySQL Server offers transaction-level reliability and integrity even for non-transactional tables. If you lock tables with LOCK TABLES, all updates will stall until any integrity checks are made. If you obtain a READ LOCAL lock (as opposed to a write lock) for a table that allows concurrent inserts at the end of the table, reads are allowed, as are inserts by other clients. The new inserted records will not be seen by the client that has the read lock until it releases the lock. With INSERT DELAYED, you can queue inserts into a local queue, until the locks are released, without having the client wait for the insert to complete. See section INSERT DELAYED Syntax.

``Atomic,'' in the sense that we mean it, is nothing magical. It only means that you can be sure that while each specific update is running, no other user can interfere with it, and there will never be an automatic rollback (which can happen with transactional tables if you are not very careful). MySQL Server also guarantees that there will not be any dirty reads.

Following are some techniques for working with non-transactional tables:

  • Loops that need transactions normally can be coded with the help of LOCK TABLES, and you don't need cursors to update records on the fly.
  • To avoid using ROLLBACK, you can use the following strategy:
    1. Use LOCK TABLES to lock all the tables you want to access.
    2. Test the conditions that must be true before performing the update.
    3. Update if everything is okay.
    4. Use UNLOCK TABLES to release your locks.
    This is usually a much faster method than using transactions with possible rollbacks, although not always. The only situation this solution doesn't handle is when someone kills the threads in the middle of an update. In this case, all locks will be released but some of the updates may not have been executed.
  • You can also use functions to update records in a single operation. You can get a very efficient application by using the following techniques:
    • Modify columns relative to their current value.
    • Update only those columns that actually have changed.
    For example, when we are doing updates to some customer information, we update only the customer data that has changed and test only that none of the changed data, or data that depends on the changed data, has changed compared to the original row. The test for changed data is done with the WHERE clause in the UPDATE statement. If the record wasn't updated, we give the client a message: ``Some of the data you have changed has been changed by another user.'' Then we show the old row versus the new row in a window so that the user can decide which version of the customer record to use. This gives us something that is similar to column locking but is actually even better because we only update some of the columns, using values that are relative to their current values. This means that typical UPDATE statements look something like these:
    UPDATE tablename SET pay_back=pay_back+125;
    UPDATE customer
        address='new address',
        phone='new phone',
        customer_id=id AND address='old address' AND phone='old phone';
    This is very efficient and works even if another client has changed the values in the pay_back or money_owed_to_us columns.
  • In many cases, users have wanted LOCK TABLES and/or ROLLBACK for the purpose of managing unique identifiers. This can be handled much more efficiently without locking or rolling back by using an AUTO_INCREMENT column and either the LAST_INSERT_ID() SQL function or the mysql_insert_id() C API function. See section 12.8.3 Information Functions. See section mysql_insert_id(). You can generally code around the need for row-level locking. Some situations really do need it, and InnoDB tables support row-level locking. With MyISAM tables, you can use a flag column in the table and do something like the following:
    UPDATE tbl_name SET row_flag=1 WHERE id=ID;
    MySQL returns 1 for the number of affected rows if the row was found and row_flag wasn't already 1 in the original row. You can think of it as though MySQL Server changed the preceding query to:
    UPDATE tbl_name SET row_flag=1 WHERE id=ID AND row_flag <> 1; Stored Procedures and Triggers

Stored procedures are implemented in MySQL version 5.0. See section 19 Stored Procedures and Functions.

Triggers are currently being implemented, with basic functionality in MySQL 5.0, with further development planned for MySQL 5.1. Foreign Keys

In MySQL Server 3.23.44 and up, the InnoDB storage engine supports checking of foreign key constraints, including CASCADE, ON DELETE, and ON UPDATE. See section 15.7.4 FOREIGN KEY Constraints.

For storage engines other than InnoDB, MySQL Server parses the FOREIGN KEY syntax in CREATE TABLE statements, but does not use or store it. In the future, the implementation will be extended to store this information in the table specification file so that it may be retrieved by mysqldump and ODBC. At a later stage, foreign key constraints will be implemented for MyISAM tables as well.

Foreign key enforcement offers several benefits to database developers:

  • Assuming proper design of the relationships, foreign key constraints make it more difficult for a programmer to introduce an inconsistency into the database.
  • Centralized checking of constraints by the database server makes it unnecessary to perform these checks on the application side. This eliminates the possibility that different applications may not all check the constraints in the same way.
  • Using cascading updates and deletes can simplify the application code.
  • Properly designed foreign key rules aid in documenting relationships between tables.

Do keep in mind that these benefits come at the cost of additional overhead for the database server to perform the necessary checks. Additional checking by the server affects performance, which for some applications may be sufficiently undesirable as to be avoided if possible. (Some major commercial applications have coded the foreign-key logic at the application level for this reason.)

MySQL gives database developers the choice of which approach to use. If you don't need foreign keys and want to avoid the overhead associated with enforcing referential integrity, you can choose another table type instead, such as MyISAM. (For example, the MyISAM storage engine offers very fast performance for applications that perform only INSERT and SELECT operations, because the inserts can be performed concurrently with retrievals. See section 7.3.2 Table Locking Issues.)

If you choose not to take advantage of referential integrity checks, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • In the absence of server-side foreign key relationship checking, the application itself must handle relationship issues. For example, it must take care to insert rows into tables in the proper order, and to avoid creating orphaned child records. It must also be able to recover from errors that occur in the middle of multiple-record insert operations.
  • If ON DELETE is the only referential integrity capability an application needs, note that as of MySQL Server 4.0, you can use multiple-table DELETE statements to delete rows from many tables with a single statement. See section 13.1.1 DELETE Syntax.
  • A workaround for the lack of ON DELETE is to add the appropriate DELETE statement to your application when you delete records from a table that has a foreign key. In practice, this is often as quick as using foreign keys, and is more portable.

Be aware that the use of foreign keys can in some instances lead to problems:

  • Foreign key support addresses many referential integrity issues, but it is still necessary to design key relationships carefully to avoid circular rules or incorrect combinations of cascading deletes.
  • It is not uncommon for a DBA to create a topology of relationships that makes it difficult to restore individual tables from a backup. (MySQL alleviates this difficulty by allowing you to temporarily disable foreign key checks when reloading a table that depends on other tables. See section 15.7.4 FOREIGN KEY Constraints. As of MySQL 4.1.1, mysqldump generates dump files that take advantage of this capability automatically when reloaded.)

Note that foreign keys in SQL are used to check and enforce referential integrity, not to join tables. If you want to get results from multiple tables from a SELECT statement, you do this by performing a join between them:


See section JOIN Syntax. See section 3.6.6 Using Foreign Keys.

The FOREIGN KEY syntax without ON DELETE ... is often used by ODBC applications to produce automatic WHERE clauses. Views

Views (including updatable views) are being implemented in the 5.0 version of MySQL Server. They are already available in binary releases from 5.0.1 and up. See section 13.2.7 CREATE VIEW Syntax.

Views are useful for allowing users to access a set of relations (tables) as if it were a single table, and limiting their access to just that. Views can also be used to restrict access to rows (a subset of a particular table). For access control to columns, you can also use the sophisticated privilege system in MySQL Server. See section 5.5 The MySQL Access Privilege System.

In designing an implementation of views, our ambitious goal, as much as is possible within the confines of SQL, has been full compliance with ``Codd's Rule #6'' for relational database systems: ``All views that are theoretically updatable, should in practice also be updatable.'' `--' as the Start of a Comment

Some other SQL databases use `--' to start comments. MySQL Server uses `#' as the start comment character. You can also use the C comment style /* this is a comment */ with MySQL Server. See section 9.5 Comment Syntax.

MySQL Server 3.23.3 and above support the `--' comment style, provided the comment is followed by a space (or by a control character such as a newline). The requirement for a space is to prevent problems with automatically generated SQL queries that have used something like the following code, where we automatically insert the value of the payment for !payment!:

UPDATE account SET credit=credit-!payment!

Think about what happens if the value of payment is a negative value such as -1:

UPDATE account SET credit=credit--1

credit--1 is a legal expression in SQL, but if -- is interpreted as the start of a comment, part of the expression is discarded. The result is a statement that has a completely different meaning than intended:

UPDATE account SET credit=credit

The statement produces no change in value at all! This illustrates that allowing comments to start with `--' can have serious consequences.

Using our implementation of this method of commenting in MySQL Server 3.23.3 and up, credit--1 is actually safe.

Another safe feature is that the mysql command-line client removes all lines that start with `--'.

The following information is relevant only if you are running a MySQL version earlier than 3.23.3:

If you have an SQL program in a text file that contains `--' comments, you should use the replace utility as follows to convert the comments to use `#' characters:

shell> replace " --" " #" < text-file-with-funny-comments.sql \
         | mysql db_name

instead of the usual:

shell> mysql db_name < text-file-with-funny-comments.sql

You can also edit the command file ``in place'' to change the `--' comments to `#' comments:

shell> replace " --" " #" -- text-file-with-funny-comments.sql

Change them back with this command:

shell> replace " #" " --" -- text-file-with-funny-comments.sql

1.5.6 How MySQL Deals with Constraints

MySQL allows you to work both with transactional tables that allow rollback and with non-transactional tables that do not. Because of this, constraint handling is a bit different in MySQL than in other databases. We must handle the case when you have inserted or updated a lot of rows in a non-transactional table for which changes cannot be rolled back when an error occurs.

The basic philosophy is that MySQL Server tries to produce an error for anything that it can detect while parsing a statement to be executed, and tries to recover from any errors that occur while executing the statement. We do this in most cases, but not yet for all. See section C.3 New Features Planned for the Near Future.

The options MySQL has when an error occurs are to stop the statement in the middle or to recover as well as possible from the problem and continue. By default, the server follows the latter course. This means, for example, that the server may coerce illegal values to the closest legal values.

Beginning with MySQL 5.0.2, several SQL mode options are available to provide greater control over how accepting to be of bad data values and whether to continue executing a statement or abort it when errors occur. Using these options, you can configure MySQL Server to act in a more traditional fashion that is like other DBMSs that reject improper input. The SQL mode can be set at runtime, which enables individual clients to select the behavior most appropriate for their requirements. See section 5.2.2 The Server SQL Mode.

The following sections describe what happens for the different types of constraints. PRIMARY KEY and UNIQUE Index Constraints

Normally, an error occurs when you try to INSERT or UPDATE a row that causes a primary key, unique key, or foreign key violation. If you are using a transactional storage engine such as InnoDB, MySQL automatically rolls back the statement. If you are using a non-transactional storage engine, MySQL stops processing the statement at the row for which the error occurred and leaves any remaining rows unprocessed.

If you wish to ignore such key violations, MySQL supports an IGNORE keyword for INSERT and UPDATE. In this case, MySQL ignores any key violations and continues processing with the next row. See section 13.1.4 INSERT Syntax. See section 13.1.10 UPDATE Syntax.

You can get information about the number of rows actually inserted or updated with the mysql_info() C API function. See section mysql_info(). In MySQL 4.1 and up, you also can use the SHOW WARNINGS statement. See section SHOW WARNINGS Syntax.

For the moment, only InnoDB tables support foreign keys. See section 15.7.4 FOREIGN KEY Constraints. Foreign key support in MyISAM tables is scheduled for implementation in MySQL 5.1. Constraints on Invalid Data

Before MySQL 5.0.2, MySQL is forgiving of illegal or improper data values and coerces them to legal values for data entry. In MySQL 5.0.2 and up, that remains the default behavior, but you can select more traditional treatment of bad values such that the server rejects them and aborts the statement in which they occur. This section describes the default (forgiving) behavior of MySQL, as well as the newer strict SQL mode and how it differs.

The following holds true when you are not using strict mode. If you insert an ``incorrect'' value into a column, such as a NULL into a NOT NULL column or a too-large numeric value into a numeric column, MySQL sets the column to the ``best possible value'' instead of producing an error:

  • If you try to store an out of range value in a numeric column, MySQL Server instead stores zero, the smallest possible value, or the largest possible value in the column.
  • For strings, MySQL stores either the empty string or the longest possible string that can be in the column.
  • If you try to store a string that doesn't start with a number into a numeric column, MySQL Server stores 0.
  • If you try to store NULL into a column that doesn't take NULL values, MySQL Server stores 0 or '' (the empty string) instead.
  • MySQL allows you to store certain incorrect date values into DATE and DATETIME columns (such as '2000-02-31' or '2000-02-00'). The idea is that it's not the job of the SQL server to validate dates. If MySQL can store a date value and retrieve exactly the same value, MySQL stores it as given. If the date is totally wrong (outside the server's ability to store it), the special date value '0000-00-00' is stored in the column instead.
  • If an INSERT statement specifies no value for a column, MySQL inserts its default value if the column definition includes an explicit DEFAULT clause. If the definition has no such DEFAULT clause, MySQL inserts the implicit default value for the column data type. In general, this is the empty string for string columns, 0 for numeric columns, and '0000-00-00' for date columns. Implicit default values are discussed in section 13.2.6 CREATE TABLE Syntax.

The reason for the preceding rules is that we can't check these conditions until the statement has begun executing. We can't just roll back if we encounter a problem after updating a few rows, because the storage engine may not support rollback. The option of terminating the statement is not that good; in this case, the update would be ``half done,'' which is probably the worst possible scenario. In this case, it's better to ``do the best you can'' and then continue as if nothing happened.

In MySQL 5.0.2 and up, you can select stricter treatment of input values by using the STRICT_TRANS_TABLES or STRICT_ALL_TABLES SQL modes. See section 5.2.2 The Server SQL Mode.

STRICT_TRANS_TABLES works like this: For transactional storage engines, bad data values occurring anywhere in the statement causes the to abort and roll back. For non-transactional storage engines, the statement aborts if the error occurs in the first row to be inserted or updated. (In this case, the statement can be regarded to leave the table unchanged, just as for a transactional table.) Errors in rows after the first do not abort the statement. Instead, bad data values are adjusted and result in warnings rather than errors. In other words, with STRICT_TRANS_TABLES, a wrong value causes MySQL to roll back, if it can, all updates done so far.

For stricter checking, enable STRICT_ALL_TABLES. This is the same as STRICT_TRANS_TABLES except that for non-transactional storage engines, errors abort the statement even for bad data in rows following the first row. This means that if an error occurs partway through a multiple-row insert or update for a non-transactional table, a partial update results. Earlier rows are inserted or updated, but those from the point of the error on are not. To avoid this for non-transactional tables, either use single-row statements or else use STRICT_TRANS_TABLES if conversion warnings rather than errors are acceptable. To avoid problems in the first place, do not use MySQL to check column content. It is safest (and often faster) to let the application ensure that it passes only legal values to the database.

With either of the strict mode options, you can cause errors to be treated as warnings by using INSERT IGNORE or UPDATE IGNORE. ENUM and SET Constraints

ENUM and SET columns provide an efficient way to define columns that can contain only a given set of values. However, before MySQL 5.0.2, ENUM and SET are not real constraints. This is for the same reasons that NOT NULL is not honored. See section Constraints on Invalid Data.

ENUM columns always have a default value. If you don't specify a default value, then it will be NULL for columns that can have NULL, otherwise the first enumeration value is used as the default value.

If you insert an incorrect value into an ENUM column or if you force a value into an ENUM column with IGNORE, it is set to the reserved enumeration value of 0, which is displayed as an empty string in string context. See section 11.4.4 The ENUM Type.

If you insert an incorrect value into a SET column, the incorrect value is ignored. For example, if the column can contain the values 'a', 'b', and 'c', an attempt to assign 'a,x,b,y' results in a value of 'a,b'. See section 11.4.5 The SET Type.

As of MySQL 5.0.2, you can configure the server to use strict SQL mode. See section 5.2.2 The Server SQL Mode. When strict mode is not enabled, values entered into ENUM and SET columns are handled as just described for MySQL 4.x. However, if strict mode is enabled, the definition of a ENUM or SET column does act as a constraint on values entered into the column. An error occurs for values that do not satisify these conditions:

  • An ENUM value must be one of those listed in the column definition, or the internal numeric equivalent thereof. The value cannot be the error value (that is, 0 or the empty string). For a column defined as ENUM('a','b','c'), values such as '', 'd', and 'ax' are illegal and are rejected.
  • A SET value must be the empty string or a value consisting of one or more of the values listed in the column definition separated by commas. For a column defined as SET('a','b','c'), values such as 'd', and 'a,b,c,d' are illegal and are rejected.

Errors for invalid values can be suppressed in strict mode if you use INSERT IGNORE or UPDATE IGNORE. In this case, a warning is generated rather than an error. For ENUM, the value is inserted as the error member (0). For SET, the value is inserted as given except that any invalid substrings are deleted. For example, 'a,x,b,y' results in a value of 'a,b', as described earlier.

1.5.7 Known Errors and Design Deficiencies in MySQL Errors in 3.23 Fixed in a Later MySQL Version

The following known errors or bugs are not fixed in MySQL 3.23 because fixing them would involve changing a lot of code that could introduce other even worse bugs. The bugs are also classified as ``not fatal'' or ``bearable.''

  • You should avoid using spaces at the end of column names because this can cause weird behavior. (Fixed in MySQL 4.0.) (Bug #4196)
  • You can get a deadlock (hung thread) if you use LOCK TABLE to lock multiple tables and then in the same connection use DROP TABLE to drop one of them while another thread is trying to lock it. (To break the deadlock, you can use KILL to terminate any of the threads involved.) This issue is resolved as of MySQL 4.0.12.
  • SELECT MAX(key_column) FROM t1,t2,t3... where one of the tables are empty doesn't return NULL but instead returns the maximum value for the column. This issue is resolved as of MySQL 4.0.11.
  • DELETE FROM heap_table without a WHERE clause doesn't work on a locked HEAP table. Errors in 4.0 Fixed in a Later MySQL Version

The following known errors or bugs are not fixed in MySQL 4.0 because fixing them would involve changing a lot of code that could introduce other even worse bugs. The bugs are also classified as ``not fatal'' or ``bearable.''

  • In a UNION, the first SELECT determines the type, max_length, and NULL properties for the resulting columns. This issue is resolved as of MySQL 4.1.1; the property values are based on the rows from all UNION parts.
  • In DELETE with many tables, you can't refer to tables to be deleted through an alias. This is fixed as of MySQL 4.1.
  • You cannot mix UNION ALL and UNION DISTINCT in the same query. If you use ALL for one UNION, it is used for all of them. This is fixed as of MySQL 4.1.2. The rules for mixed UNION types are given in section UNION Syntax.
  • FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK does not block CREATE TABLE, which may cause a problem with the binary log position when doing a full backup of tables and the binary log.
  • mysqldump --single-transaction --master-data behaved like mysqldump --master-data, so the dump was a blocking one. This is fixed starting from MySQL 4.1.8. Open Bugs and Design Deficiencies in MySQL

The following problems are known and fixing them is a high priority:

  • Even if you are using lower_case_table_names=2 (which enables MySQL to remember the used case for databases and table names) MySQL will not on case insensitive systems remember the used case for database names for the function DATABASE() or in various logs.
  • Dropping a FOREIGN KEY constraint doesn't work in replication because the constraint may have another name on the slave.
  • REPLACE (and LOAD DATA with the REPLACE option) does not trigger ON DELETE CASCADE.
  • DISTINCT with ORDER BY doesn't work inside GROUP_CONCAT() if you don't use all and only those columns that are in the DISTINCT list.
  • If one user has a long-running transaction and another user drops a table that is updated in the transaction, there is small chance that the binary log may contain the DROP TABLE command before the table is used in the transaction itself. We plan to fix this in 5.0 by having the DROP TABLE wait until the table is not used in any transaction.
  • When inserting a big integer value (between 2^63 and 2^64-1) into a decimal/string column, it is inserted as a negative value because the number is evaluated in a signed integer context. We plan to fix this in MySQL 4.1.
  • FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK does not block COMMIT if the server is running without binary logging, which may cause a problem (of consistency between tables) when doing a full backup.
  • ANALYZE TABLE on a BDB table may in some cases make the table unusable until you restart mysqld. If this happens, you will see errors of the following form in the MySQL error file:
    001207 22:07:56  bdb:  log_flush: LSN past current end-of-log
  • MySQL accepts parentheses in the FROM clause of a SELECT statement, but silently ignores them. The reason for not giving an error is that many clients that automatically generate queries add parentheses in the FROM clause even where they are not needed.
  • Concatenating many RIGHT JOINS or combining LEFT and RIGHT join in the same query may not give a correct answer because MySQL only generates NULL rows for the table preceding a LEFT or before a RIGHT join. This will be fixed in 5.0 at the same time we add support for parentheses in the FROM clause.
  • Don't execute ALTER TABLE on a BDB table on which you are running multiple-statement transactions until all those transactions complete. (The transaction will probably be ignored.)
  • ANALYZE TABLE, OPTIMIZE TABLE, and REPAIR TABLE may cause problems on tables for which you are using INSERT DELAYED.
  • Doing a LOCK TABLE ... and FLUSH TABLES ... doesn't guarantee that there isn't a half-finished transaction in progress on the table.
  • BDB tables are a bit slow to open. If you have many BDB tables in a database, it will take a long time to use the mysql client on the database if you are not using the -A option or if you are using rehash. This is especially notable when you have a large table cache.
  • Replication uses query-level logging: The master writes the executed queries to the binary log. This is a very fast, compact, and efficient logging method that works perfectly in most cases. Although we have never heard of it actually occurring, it is theoretically possible for the data on the master and slave to become different if a query is designed in such a way that the data modification is non-deterministic; that is, left to the will of the query optimizer. (That generally is not a good practice anyway, even outside of replication!) For example:
    • CREATE ... SELECT or INSERT ... SELECT statements that insert zero or NULL values into an AUTO_INCREMENT column.
    • DELETE if you are deleting rows from a table that has foreign keys with ON DELETE CASCADE properties.
    • REPLACE ... SELECT, INSERT IGNORE ... SELECT if you have duplicate key values in the inserted data.
    If and only if all these queries have no ORDER BY clause guaranteeing a deterministic order. For example, for INSERT ... SELECT with no ORDER BY, the SELECT may return rows in a different order (which will result in a row having different ranks, hence getting a different number in the AUTO_INCREMENT column), depending on the choices made by the optimizers on the master and slave. A query will be optimized differently on the master and slave only if:
    • The files used by the two queries are not exactly the same; for example, OPTIMIZE TABLE was run on the master tables and not on the slave tables. (To fix this, OPTIMIZE TABLE, ANALYZE TABLE, and REPAIR TABLE are written to the binary log as of MySQL 4.1.1).
    • The table is stored using a different storage engine on the master than on the slave. (It is possible to use different storage engines on the master and slave. For example, you can use InnoDB on the master, but MyISAM on the slave if the slave has less available disk space.)
    • MySQL buffer sizes (key_buffer_size, and so on) are different on the master and slave.
    • The master and slave run different MySQL versions, and the optimizer code differs between these versions.
    This problem may also affect database restoration using mysqlbinlog|mysql. The easiest way to avoid this problem in all cases is to add an ORDER BY clause to such non-deterministic queries to ensure that the rows are always stored or modified in the same order. In future MySQL versions, we will automatically add an ORDER BY clause when needed.

The following problems are known and will be fixed in due time:

  • Log filenames are based on the server hostname (if you don't specify a filename with the startup option). For now you have to use options like --log-bin=old_host_name-bin if you change your hostname to something else. Another option is to just rename the old files to reflect your hostname change. See section 5.2.1 mysqld Command-Line Options.
  • mysqlbinlog will not delete temporary files left after a LOAD DATA INFILE command. See section 8.5 The mysqlbinlog Binary Log Utility.
  • RENAME doesn't work with TEMPORARY tables or tables used in a MERGE table.
  • When using the RPAD() function in a query that has to be resolved by using a temporary table, all resulting strings will have rightmost spaces removed. This is an example of such a query:
    SELECT RPAD(t1.column1, 50, ' ') AS f2, RPAD(t2.column2, 50, ' ') AS f1
    FROM table1 as t1 LEFT JOIN table2 AS t2 ON t1.record=t2.joinID
    ORDER BY t2.record;
    The final result of this bug is that you will not be able to get spaces on the right side of the resulting values. The problem also occurs for any other string function that adds spaces to the right. The reason for this is due to the fact that HEAP tables, which are used first for temporary tables, are not capable of handling VARCHAR columns. This behavior exists in all versions of MySQL. It will be fixed in one of the 4.1 series releases.
  • Due to the way table definition files are stored, you cannot use character 255 (CHAR(255)) in table names, column names, or enumerations. This is scheduled to be fixed in version 5.1 when we have new table definition format files.
  • When using SET CHARACTER SET, you can't use translated characters in database, table, and column names.
  • You can't use `_' or `%' with ESCAPE in LIKE ... ESCAPE.
  • If you have a DECIMAL column in which the same number is stored in different formats (for example, +01.00, 1.00, 01.00), GROUP BY may regard each value as a different value.
  • You cannot build the server in another directory when using MIT-pthreads. Because this requires changes to MIT-pthreads, we are not likely to fix this. See section 2.8.5 MIT-pthreads Notes.
  • BLOB and TEXTvalues can't ``reliably'' be used in GROUP BY or ORDER BY or DISTINCT. Only the first max_sort_length bytes are used when comparing BLOB values in these cases. The default value of max_sort_length value is 1024. It can be changed at server startup time. As of MySQL 4.0.3, it can also be changed at runtime. For older versions, a workaround for most cases is to use a substring. For example:
    SELECT DISTINCT LEFT(blob_col,2048) FROM tbl_name;
  • Numeric calculations are done with BIGINT or DOUBLE (both are normally 64 bits long). Which precision you get depends on the function. The general rule is that bit functions are done with BIGINT precision, IF and ELT() with BIGINT or DOUBLE precision, and the rest with DOUBLE precision. You should try to avoid using unsigned long long values if they resolve to be bigger than 63 bits (9223372036854775807) for anything other than bit fields. MySQL Server 4.0 has better BIGINT handling than 3.23.
  • All string columns, except BLOB and TEXT columns, automatically have all trailing spaces removed when retrieved. For CHAR types, this is okay. The bug is that in MySQL Server, VARCHAR columns are treated the same way.
  • You can have only up to 255 ENUM and SET columns in one table.
  • In MIN(), MAX(), and other aggregate functions, MySQL currently compares ENUM and SET columns by their string value rather than by the string's relative position in the set.
  • mysqld_safe redirects all messages from mysqld to the mysqld log. One problem with this is that if you execute mysqladmin refresh to close and reopen the log, stdout and stderr are still redirected to the old log. If you use --log extensively, you should edit mysqld_safe to log to `host_name.err' instead of `host_name.log' so that you can easily reclaim the space for the old log by deleting the old one and executing mysqladmin refresh.
  • In the UPDATE statement, columns are updated from left to right. If you refer to an updated column, you get the updated value instead of the original value. For example, the following statement increments KEY by 2, not 1:
    mysql> UPDATE tbl_name SET KEY=KEY+1,KEY=KEY+1;
  • You can refer to multiple temporary tables in the same query, but you cannot refer to any given temporary table more than once. For example, the following doesn't work:
    mysql> SELECT * FROM temp_table, temp_table AS t2;
    ERROR 1137: Can't reopen table: 'temp_table'
  • The optimizer may handle DISTINCT differently when you are using ``hidden'' columns in a join than when you are not. In a join, hidden columns are counted as part of the result (even if they are not shown), whereas in normal queries, hidden columns don't participate in the DISTINCT comparison. We will probably change this in the future to never compare the hidden columns when executing DISTINCT. An example of this is:
    SELECT DISTINCT mp3id FROM band_downloads
           WHERE userid = 9 ORDER BY id DESC;
    SELECT DISTINCT band_downloads.mp3id
           FROM band_downloads,band_mp3
           WHERE band_downloads.userid = 9
           AND = band_downloads.mp3id
           ORDER BY DESC;
    In the second case, you might in MySQL Server 3.23.x get two identical rows in the result set (because the values in the hidden id column may differ). Note that this happens only for queries where you don't have the ORDER BY columns in the result.
  • Because MySQL Server allows you to work with table types that don't support transactions, and thus can't roll back data, some things behave a little differently in MySQL Server than in other SQL servers. This is just to ensure that MySQL Server never needs to do a rollback for an SQL statement. This may be a little awkward at times because column values must be checked in the application, but this will actually give you a nice speed increase because it allows MySQL Server to do some optimizations that otherwise would be very hard to do. If you set a column to an incorrect value, MySQL Server will, instead of doing a rollback, store the ``best possible value'' in the column. For information about how this occurs, see section 1.5.6 How MySQL Deals with Constraints.
  • If you execute a PROCEDURE on a query that returns an empty set, in some cases the PROCEDURE will not transform the columns.
  • Creation of a table of type MERGE doesn't check whether the underlying tables are of compatible types.
  • If you use ALTER TABLE first to add a UNIQUE index to a table used in a MERGE table and then to add a normal index on the MERGE table, the key order will be different for the tables if there was an old key that was not unique in the table. This is because ALTER TABLE puts UNIQUE indexes before normal indexes to be able to detect duplicate keys as early as possible.

The following are known bugs in earlier versions of MySQL:

  • In the following case you can get a core dump:
    • Delayed insert handler has pending inserts to a table.
    • LOCK TABLE with WRITE.
  • Before MySQL Server 3.23.2, an UPDATE that updated a key with a WHERE on the same key may have failed because the key was used to search for records and the same row may have been found multiple times:
    UPDATE tbl_name SET KEY=KEY+1 WHERE KEY > 100;
    A workaround is to use:
    UPDATE tbl_name SET KEY=KEY+1 WHERE KEY+0 > 100;
    This will work because MySQL Server will not use an index on expressions in the WHERE clause.
  • Before MySQL Server 3.23, all numeric types were treated as fixed-point fields. That means that you had to specify how many decimals a floating-point field should have. All results were returned with the correct number of decimals.

For information about platform-specific bugs, see the installation and porting instructions in section 2.12 Operating System-Specific Notes and section E Porting to Other Systems.

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