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    tbl_name [AS alias] {READ [LOCAL] | [LOW_PRIORITY] WRITE}
    [, tbl_name [AS alias] {READ [LOCAL] | [LOW_PRIORITY] WRITE}] ...

LOCK TABLES locks tables for the current thread. If any of the tables are locked by other threads, it blocks until all locks can be acquired. UNLOCK TABLES releases any locks held by the current thread. All tables that are locked by the current thread are implicitly unlocked when the thread issues another LOCK TABLES, or when the connection to the server is closed.

A table lock protects only against inappropriate reads or writes by other clients. The client holding the lock, even a read lock, can perform table-level operations such as DROP TABLE.

Note the following regarding the use of LOCK TABLES with transactional tables:

  • LOCK TABLES is not transaction-safe and implicitly commits any active transactions before attempting to lock the tables. Also, beginning a transaction (for example, with START TRANSACTION) implicitly performs an UNLOCK TABLES. (See Section 13.4.3, “Statements That Cause an Implicit Commit”.)

  • The correct way to use LOCK TABLES with transactional tables, like InnoDB, is to set AUTOCOMMIT = 0 and not to call UNLOCK TABLES until you commit the transaction explicitly. When you call LOCK TABLES, InnoDB internally takes its own table lock, and MySQL takes its own table lock. InnoDB releases its table lock at the next commit, but for MySQL to release its table lock, you have to call UNLOCK TABLES. You should not have AUTOCOMMIT = 1, because then InnoDB releases its table lock immediately after the call of LOCK TABLES, and deadlocks can very easily happen. Note that we do not acquire the InnoDB table lock at all if AUTOCOMMIT=1, to help old applications avoid unnecessary deadlocks.

  • ROLLBACK does not release MySQL's non-transactional table locks.

To use LOCK TABLES, you must have the LOCK TABLES privilege and the SELECT privilege for the involved tables.

The main reasons to use LOCK TABLES are to emulate transactions or to get more speed when updating tables. This is explained in more detail later.

If a thread obtains a READ lock on a table, that thread (and all other threads) can only read from the table. If a thread obtains a WRITE lock on a table, only the thread holding the lock can write to the table. Other threads are blocked from doing so until the lock has been released.

The difference between READ LOCAL and READ is that READ LOCAL allows non-conflicting INSERT statements (concurrent inserts) to execute while the lock is held. However, this cannot be used if you are going to manipulate the database files outside MySQL while you hold the lock. For InnoDB tables, READ LOCAL is the same as READ.

When you use LOCK TABLES, you must lock all tables that you are going to use in your queries. While the locks obtained with a LOCK TABLES statement are in effect, you cannot access any tables that were not locked by the statement. Also, you cannot use a locked table multiple times in a single query. Use aliases instead, in which case you must obtain a lock for each alias separately.

ERROR 1100: Table 't' was not locked with LOCK TABLES

If your queries refer to a table by means of an alias, you must lock the table using that same alias. It does not work to lock the table without specifying the alias:

mysql> SELECT * FROM t AS myalias;
ERROR 1100: Table 'myalias' was not locked with LOCK TABLES

Conversely, if you lock a table using an alias, you must refer to it in your queries using that alias:

mysql> LOCK TABLE t AS myalias READ;
mysql> SELECT * FROM t;
ERROR 1100: Table 't' was not locked with LOCK TABLES
mysql> SELECT * FROM t AS myalias;

WRITE locks normally have higher priority than READ locks to ensure that updates are processed as soon as possible. This means that if one thread obtains a READ lock and then another thread requests a WRITE lock, subsequent READ lock requests wait until the WRITE thread has gotten the lock and released it. You can use LOW_PRIORITY WRITE locks to allow other threads to obtain READ locks while the thread is waiting for the WRITE lock. You should use LOW_PRIORITY WRITE locks only if you are sure that eventually there will be a time when no threads have a READ lock.

LOCK TABLES works as follows:

  1. Sort all tables to be locked in an internally defined order. From the user standpoint, this order is undefined.

  2. If a table is locked with a read and a write lock, put the write lock before the read lock.

  3. Lock one table at a time until the thread gets all locks.

This policy ensures that table locking is deadlock free. There are, however, other things you need to be aware of about this policy:

If you are using a LOW_PRIORITY WRITE lock for a table, it means only that MySQL waits for this particular lock until there are no threads that want a READ lock. When the thread has gotten the WRITE lock and is waiting to get the lock for the next table in the lock table list, all other threads wait for the WRITE lock to be released. If this becomes a serious problem with your application, you should consider converting some of your tables to transaction-safe tables.

You can safely use KILL to terminate a thread that is waiting for a table lock. See Section, “KILL Syntax”.

Note that you should not lock any tables that you are using with INSERT DELAYED because in that case the INSERT is performed by a separate thread.

Normally, you do not need to lock tables, because all single UPDATE statements are atomic; no other thread can interfere with any other currently executing SQL statement. However, there are a few cases when locking tables may provide an advantage:

  • If you are going to run many operations on a set of MyISAM tables, it is much faster to lock the tables you are going to use. Locking MyISAM tables speeds up inserting, updating, or deleting on them. The downside is that no thread can update a READ-locked table (including the one holding the lock) and no thread can access a WRITE-locked table other than the one holding the lock.

    The reason some MyISAM operations are faster under LOCK TABLES is that MySQL does not flush the key cache for the locked tables until UNLOCK TABLES is called. Normally, the key cache is flushed after each SQL statement.

  • If you are using a storage engine in MySQL that does not support transactions, you must use LOCK TABLES if you want to ensure that no other thread comes between a SELECT and an UPDATE. The example shown here requires LOCK TABLES to execute safely:

    LOCK TABLES trans READ, customer WRITE;
    SELECT SUM(value) FROM trans WHERE customer_id=some_id;
    UPDATE customer
      SET total_value=sum_from_previous_statement
      WHERE customer_id=some_id;

    Without LOCK TABLES, it is possible that another thread might insert a new row in the trans table between execution of the SELECT and UPDATE statements.

You can avoid using LOCK TABLES in many cases by using relative updates (UPDATE customer SET value=value+new_value) or the LAST_INSERT_ID() function. See Section, “Transactions and Atomic Operations”.

You can also avoid locking tables in some cases by using the user-level advisory lock functions GET_LOCK() and RELEASE_LOCK(). These locks are saved in a hash table in the server and implemented with pthread_mutex_lock() and pthread_mutex_unlock() for high speed. See Section 12.10.4, “Miscellaneous Functions”.

See Section 7.3.1, “Locking Methods”, for more information on locking policy.

You can lock all tables in all databases with read locks with the FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK statement. See Section, “FLUSH Syntax”. This is a very convenient way to get backups if you have a filesystem such as Veritas that can take snapshots in time.

Note: If you use ALTER TABLE on a locked table, it may become unlocked. See Section A.7.1, “Problems with ALTER TABLE.

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