Converting myisam tables to innodb

Why should you convert myisam tables to innodb ?

For the perfectly simple reason that innodb tables do not get locked by concurrent selects & inserts. So if you find that your myisam table is suffering for too many locks – due to concurrent selects and inserts, it is time for you to covert the table to innodb.

The simple query which does the trick is

Alter table myisam_table_name engine = innodb;

This query is good for small tables, which get converted in a flash (I am refering to tables smaller than 1 GB). But when you try to run this query to alter bigger tables, it takes a huge amount of time. You have to wait – maybe hours if not days to get your job done.

Recently I had a 30 GB table which i wanted to convert to innodb and the alter query went on for 3 days after which i gave up and killed the query. And then went on finding ways to make this alter happen fast.

There are multiple ways to make your alter fast –

1. create a temporary table with engine = innodb, disable unique checks and insert into the table in batches. The sequence of sql statements for this are

create table new_table_name like old_table_name;
alter table new_table_name engine = innodb;
set unique_checks=0;
// loop till all records are ported
insert into new_table_name select * from old_table_name where key > something and key

mysql hack – altering huge tables

You have a huge mysql table – maybe 100 GB. And you need to run alter on it – to either add an index, drop an index, add a column or drop a column. If you run the simple mysql “alter table” command, you will end up spending ages to bring the table back into production.

Here is a simple hack to get the thing done. The benefit of the hack is that the alter runs quite fast. But since this is a hack, you will need to take care of the backups – in case anything goes wrong. I have seen this hack work effectively with both MyISAM and InnoDB tables.

Here i have created a simple table to show this hack process. You can assume that this table has billions of rows and is more than 100GB in size.

CREATE TABLE `testhack` (
`id` int(11) NOT NULL DEFAULT ‘0’,
`unq` varchar(100) DEFAULT NULL,
`keyword` varchar(250) DEFAULT NULL,
UNIQUE KEY `unq` (`unq`)

I need to drop the unique key. So, i create a new table testhack_new with the following schema

CREATE TABLE `testhack_new` (
`id` int(11) NOT NULL DEFAULT ‘0’,
`unq` varchar(100) DEFAULT NULL,
`keyword` varchar(250) DEFAULT NULL,

Flush both tables with read lock

mysql> Flush tables with read lock;

Open another terminal. And go to the mysql/data/<database> directory. Do the following:

mysql/data/test $ mv testhack.frm testhack_old.frm; mv testhack_new.frm testhack.frm; mv testhack_old.frm testhack_new.frm; mv testhack.MYI testhack_old.MYI; mv testhack_new.MYI testhack.MYI; mv testhack_old.MYI testhack_new.MYI;

So, what is happening here is that the index, table definitions are being switched. After this process, the table definition of testhack will not contain the unique key. Now unlock the tables in the main window. And run repair tables to remove any issues.

mysql> unlock tables;
mysql> repair tables testhack;

| Table         | Op     | Msg_type | Msg_text                                  |
| test.testhack | repair | warning  | Number of rows changed from 0 to 20000000 | 
| test.testhack | repair | status   | OK                                        | 

The repair table rebuilds the indexes. It is faster since it skips the use of key_cache for rebuilding the index (which is used in a normal alter table scenario).