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14.2.3. InnoDB Configuration

The InnoDB storage engine is enabled by default. If you don't want to use InnoDB tables, you can add the skip-innodb option to your MySQL option file.

Note: InnoDB provides MySQL with a transaction-safe (ACID compliant) storage engine that has commit, rollback, and crash recovery capabilities. However, it cannot do so if the underlying operating system or hardware does not work as advertised. Many operating systems or disk subsystems may delay or reorder write operations to improve performance. On some operating systems, the very system call that should wait until all unwritten data for a file has been flushed — fsync() — might actually return before the data has been flushed to stable storage. Because of this, an operating system crash or a power outage may destroy recently committed data, or in the worst case, even corrupt the database because of write operations having been reordered. If data integrity is important to you, you should perform some “pull-the-plug” tests before using anything in production. On Mac OS X 10.3 and up, InnoDB uses a special fcntl() file flush method. Under Linux, it is advisable to disable the write-back cache.

On ATAPI hard disks, a command such hdparm -W0 /dev/hda may work to disable the write-back cache. Beware that some drives or disk controllers may be unable to disable the write-back cache.

Two important disk-based resources managed by the InnoDB storage engine are its tablespace data files and its log files.

Note: If you specify no InnoDB configuration options, MySQL creates an auto-extending 10MB data file named ibdata1 and two 5MB log files named ib_logfile0 and ib_logfile1 in the MySQL data directory. To get good performance, you should explicitly provide InnoDB parameters as discussed in the following examples. Naturally, you should edit the settings to suit your hardware and requirements.

The examples shown here are representative. See Section 14.2.4, “InnoDB Startup Options and System Variables” for additional information about InnoDB-related configuration parameters.

To set up the InnoDB tablespace files, use the innodb_data_file_path option in the [mysqld] section of the my.cnf option file. On Windows, you can use my.ini instead. The value of innodb_data_file_path should be a list of one or more data file specifications. If you name more than one data file, separate them by semicolon (‘;’) characters:


For example, a setting that explicitly creates a tablespace having the same characteristics as the default is as follows:


This setting configures a single 10MB data file named ibdata1 that is auto-extending. No location for the file is given, so by default, InnoDB creates it in the MySQL data directory.

Sizes are specified using M or G suffix letters to indicate units of MB or GB.

A tablespace containing a fixed-size 50MB data file named ibdata1 and a 50MB auto-extending file named ibdata2 in the data directory can be configured like this:


The full syntax for a data file specification includes the filename, its size, and several optional attributes:


The autoextend attribute and those following can be used only for the last data file in the innodb_data_file_path line.

If you specify the autoextend option for the last data file, InnoDB extends the data file if it runs out of free space in the tablespace. The increment is 8MB at a time by default. It can be modified by changing the innodb_autoextend_increment system variable.

If the disk becomes full, you might want to add another data file on another disk. Instructions for reconfiguring an existing tablespace are given in Section 14.2.7, “Adding and Removing InnoDB Data and Log Files”.

InnoDB is not aware of the filesystem maximum file size, so be cautious on filesystems where the maximum file size is a small value such as 2GB. To specify a maximum size for an auto-extending data file, use the max attribute. The following configuration allows ibdata1 to grow up to a limit of 500MB:


InnoDB creates tablespace files in the MySQL data directory by default. To specify a location explicitly, use the innodb_data_home_dir option. For example, to use two files named ibdata1 and ibdata2 but create them in the /ibdata directory, configure InnoDB like this:

innodb_data_home_dir = /ibdata

Note: InnoDB does not create directories, so make sure that the /ibdata directory exists before you start the server. This is also true of any log file directories that you configure. Use the Unix or DOS mkdir command to create any necessary directories.

InnoDB forms the directory path for each data file by textually concatenating the value of innodb_data_home_dir to the data file name, adding a pathname separator (slash or backslash) between values if necessary. If the innodb_data_home_dir option is not mentioned in my.cnf at all, the default value is the “dot” directory ./, which means the MySQL data directory. (The MySQL server changes its current working directory to its data directory when it begins executing.)

If you specify innodb_data_home_dir as an empty string, you can specify absolute paths for the data files listed in the innodb_data_file_path value. The following example is equivalent to the preceding one:

innodb_data_home_dir =

A simple my.cnf example. Suppose that you have a computer with 128MB RAM and one hard disk. The following example shows possible configuration parameters in my.cnf or my.ini for InnoDB, including the autoextend attribute. The example suits most users, both on Unix and Windows, who do not want to distribute InnoDB data files and log files onto several disks. It creates an auto-extending data file ibdata1 and two InnoDB log files ib_logfile0 and ib_logfile1 in the MySQL data directory. Also, the small archived InnoDB log file ib_arch_log_0000000000 that InnoDB creates automatically ends up in the data directory.

# You can write your other MySQL server options here
# ...
# Data files must be able to hold your data and indexes.
# Make sure that you have enough free disk space.
innodb_data_file_path = ibdata1:10M:autoextend
# Set buffer pool size to 50-80% of your computer's memory
# Set the log file size to about 25% of the buffer pool size

Make sure that the MySQL server has the proper access rights to create files in the data directory. More generally, the server must have access rights in any directory where it needs to create data files or log files.

Note that data files must be less than 2GB in some filesystems. The combined size of the log files must be less than 4GB. The combined size of data files must be at least 10MB.

When you create an InnoDB tablespace for the first time, it is best that you start the MySQL server from the command prompt. InnoDB then prints the information about the database creation to the screen, so you can see what is happening. For example, on Windows, if mysqld is located in C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.1\bin, you can start it like this:

C:\> "C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.1\bin\mysqld" --console

If you do not send server output to the screen, check the server's error log to see what InnoDB prints during the startup process.

See Section 14.2.5, “Creating the InnoDB Tablespace”, for an example of what the information displayed by InnoDB should look like.

You can place InnoDB options in the [mysqld] group of any option file that your server reads when it starts. The locations for option files are described in Section 4.3.2, “Using Option Files”.

If you installed MySQL on Windows using the installation and configuration wizards, the option file will be the my.ini file located in your MySQL installation directory. See Section, “The Location of the my.ini File”.

If your PC uses a boot loader where the C: drive is not the boot drive, your only option is to use the my.ini file in your Windows directory (typically C:\WINDOWS or C:\WINNT). You can use the SET command at the command prompt in a console window to print the value of WINDIR:


If you want to make sure that mysqld reads options only from a specific file, you can use the --defaults-file option as the first option on the command line when starting the server:

mysqld --defaults-file=your_path_to_my_cnf

An advanced my.cnf example. Suppose that you have a Linux computer with 2GB RAM and three 60GB hard disks at directory paths /, /dr2 and /dr3. The following example shows possible configuration parameters in my.cnf for InnoDB.

# You can write your other MySQL server options here
# ...
innodb_data_home_dir =
# Data files must be able to hold your data and indexes
innodb_data_file_path = /ibdata/ibdata1:2000M;/dr2/ibdata/ibdata2:2000M:autoextend
# Set buffer pool size to 50-80% of your computer's memory,
# but make sure on Linux x86 total memory usage is < 2GB
innodb_log_group_home_dir = /dr3/iblogs
innodb_log_files_in_group = 2
# Set the log file size to about 25% of the buffer pool size
# Uncomment the next lines if you want to use them

In some cases, database performance improves the if all data is not placed on the same physical disk. Putting log files on a different disk from data is very often beneficial for performance. The example illustrates how to do this. It places the two data files on different disks and places the log files on the third disk. InnoDB fills the tablespace beginning with the first data file. You can also use raw disk partitions (raw devices) as InnoDB data files, which may speed up I/O. See Section, “Using Raw Devices for the Shared Tablespace”.

Warning: On 32-bit GNU/Linux x86, you must be careful not to set memory usage too high. glibc may allow the process heap to grow over thread stacks, which crashes your server. It is a risk if the value of the following expression is close to or exceeds 2GB:

+ key_buffer_size
+ max_connections*(sort_buffer_size+read_buffer_size+binlog_cache_size)
+ max_connections*2MB

Each thread uses a stack (often 2MB, but only 256KB in MySQL AB binaries) and in the worst case also uses sort_buffer_size + read_buffer_size additional memory.

By compiling MySQL yourself, you can use up to 64GB of physical memory in 32-bit Windows. See the description for innodb_buffer_pool_awe_mem_mb in Section 14.2.4, “InnoDB Startup Options and System Variables”.

How to tune other mysqld server parameters? The following values are typical and suit most users:

# Set key_buffer to 5 - 50% of your RAM depending on how much
# you use MyISAM tables, but keep key_buffer_size + InnoDB
# buffer pool size < 80% of your RAM

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire