MySQL Reference Manual for version 3.22.14b-gamma.

16 Problems and common errors

16.1 Some common errors when using MySQL

16.1.1 MySQL server has gone away error

The most common reason for the MySQL server has gone away error is that the server timed out and closed the connection. By default, the server closes the connection after 8 hours if nothing has happened.

You can check that the MySQL hasn't died by executing mysqladmin version and examining the uptime.

If you have a script, you just have to issue the query again for the client to do an automatic reconnection.

You normally can get the following error codes in this case (which one you get is OS-dependent):

CR_SERVER_GONE_ERROR The client couldn't send a question to the server.
CR_SERVER_LOST The client didn't get an error when writing to the server, but it didn't get a full answer (or any answer) to the question.

You can also get these errors if you send a query to the server that is incorrect or too large. If mysqld gets a packet that is too large or out of order, it assumes that something has gone wrong with the client and closes the connection. If you need big queries (for example, if you are working with big BLOB columns), you can increase the query limit by starting mysqld with the -O max_allowed_packet=# option (default 1M). The extra memory is allocated on demand, so mysqld will use more memory only when you issue a big query or when mysqld must return a big result row!

16.1.2 Can't connect to local MySQL server error

A MySQL client can connect to the mysqld server in two different ways: Unix sockets, which connect through a file in the file system (default `/tmp/mysqld.sock'), or TCP/IP, which connects through a port number. Unix sockets are faster than TCP/IP but can only be used when connecting to a server on the same computer. Unix sockets are used if you don't specify a hostname or if you specify the special hostname localhost.

Here are some reasons the Can't connect to local MySQL server error might occur:

16.1.3 Host '...' is blocked error

If you get a error like this:

Host 'hostname' is blocked because of many connection errors.
Unblock with 'mysqladmin flush-hosts'

This means that mysqld has gotten a lot (max_connect_errors) of connect requests from the host 'hostname' that have been interrupted in the middle. After max_connect_errors failed requests, mysqld assumes that something is wrong (like a attack from a cracker), and blocks the site from further connections until someone executes the command mysqladmin flush-hosts.

By default, mysqld blocks a host after 10 connection errors. You can easily adjust this by starting the server like this:

shell> safe_mysqld -O max_connect_errors=10000 &

Note that if you get this error message for a given host, you should first check that there isn't anything wrong with TCP/IP connections from that host. If your TCP/IP connections aren't working, it won't do you any good to increase the value of the max_connect_errors variable!

16.1.4 Out of memory error

If you issue a query and get something like the following error:

mysql: Out of memory at line 42, 'malloc.c'
mysql: needed 8136 byte (8k), memory in use: 12481367 bytes (12189k)
ERROR 2008: MySQL client ran out of memory

Note that the error refers to the MySQL client mysql. The reason for this error is simply that the client does not have enough memory to store the whole result.

To remedy the problem, first check that your query is correct. Is it reasonable that it should return so many rows? If so, you can use mysql --quick, which uses mysql_use_result() to retrieve the result set. This places less of a load on the client (but more on the server).

16.1.5 Packet too large error

When a MySQL client or the mysqld server gets a packet bigger than max_allowed_packet bytes, it issues a Packet too large error and closes the connection.

If you are using the mysql client, you may specify a bigger buffer by starting the client with mysql --set-variable=max_allowed_packet=8M.

If you are using other clients that do not allow you to specify the maximum packet size (such as DBI), you need to set the packet size when you start the server. You cau use a command-line option to mysqld to set max_allowed_packet to a larger size. For example, if you are expecting to store the full length of a BLOB into a table, you'll need to start the server with the --set-variable=max_allowed_packet=24M option.

16.1.6 The table is full error

This error occurs when an in-memory temporary table becomes larger than tmp_table_size bytes. To avoid this problem, you can use the -O tmp_table_size=# option to mysqld to increase the temporary table size, or use the SQL option SQL_BIG_TABLES before you issue the problematic query. See section 7.24 SET OPTION syntax.

You can also start mysqld with the --big-tables option. This is exactly the same as using SQL_BIG_TABLES for all queries.

16.1.7 Commands out of sync error in client

If you get Commands out of sync; You can't run this command now in your client code, you are calling client functions in the wrong order!

This can happen, for example, if you are using mysql_use_result() and try to execute a new query before you have called mysql_free_result(). It can also happen if you try to execute two queries that return data without a mysql_use_result() or mysql_store_result() in between.

16.1.8 Ignoring user error

If you get the following error:

Found wrong password for user: 'some_user@some_host'; Ignoring user

This means that when mysqld was started or when it reloaded the permissions tables, it found an entry in the user table with an invalid password. As a result, the entry is simply ignored by the permission system.

Possible causes of and fixes for this problem:

16.1.9 Table 'xxx' doesn't exist error

If you get the error Table 'xxx' doesn't exist or Can't find file: 'xxx' (errno: 2), this means that no table exists in the current database with the name xxx.

Note that as MySQL uses directories and files to store databases and tables, the database and table names are case sensitive! (On Win32 the databases and tables names are not case sensitive, but all references to a given table within a query must use the same case!)

You can check which tables you have in the current database with SHOW TABLES. See section 7.20 SHOW syntax (Get information about tables, columns...).

16.2 How MySQL handles a full disk

When a disk full condition occurs, MySQL does the following:

To alleviate the problem, you can take the following actions:

16.3 How to run SQL commands from a text file

The mysql client typically is used interactively, like this:

shell> mysql database

However, it's also possible to put your SQL commands in a file and tell mysql to read its input from that file. To do so, create a text file `text_file' that contains the commands you wish to execute. Then invoke mysql as shown below:

shell> mysql database < text_file

You can also start your text file with a USE db_name statement. In this case, it is unnecessary to specify the database name on the command line:

shell> mysql < text_file

See section 12.1 Overview of the different MySQL programs.

16.4 Where MySQL stores temporary files

MySQL uses the value of the TMPDIR environment variable as the pathname of the directory in which to store temporary files. If you don't have TMPDIR set, MySQL uses the system default, which is normally `/tmp' or `/usr/tmp'. If the file system containing your temporary file directory is too small, you should edit safe_mysqld to set TMPDIR to point to a directory in a file system where you have enough space! You can also set the temporary directory using the --tmpdir option to mysqld.

MySQL creates all temporary files as "hidden files". This ensures that the temporary files will be removed if mysqld is terminated. The disadvantage of using hidden files is that you will not see a big temporary file that fills up the file system in which the temporary file directory is located.

When sorting (ORDER BY or GROUP BY), MySQL normally uses one or two temporary files. The maximum disk-space needed is:

(length of what is sorted + sizeof(database pointer))
* number of matched rows
* 2

sizeof(database pointer) is usually 4, but may grow in the future for really big tables.

For some SELECT queries, MySQL also creates temporary SQL tables. These are not hidden and have names of the form `SQL_*'.

ALTER TABLE creates a temporary table in the same directory as the original table.

16.5 How to protect `/tmp/mysql.sock' from being deleted

If you have problems with the fact that anyone can delete the MySQL communication socket `/tmp/mysql.sock', you can, on most versions of Unix, protect your `/tmp' file system by setting the sticky bit on it. Log in as root and do the following:

shell> chmod +s /tmp

This will protect your `/tmp' file system so that files can be deleted only by their owners or the superuser (root).

You can check if the sticky bit is set by executing ls -ld /tmp. If the last permission bit is t, the bit is set.

16.6 Access denied error

See section 6.4 How the privilege system works. And especially see section 6.11 Causes of Access denied errors.

16.7 How to run MySQL as a normal user

The MySQL server mysqld can be started and run by any user. In order to change mysqld to run as Unix user user_name, you must do the following:

  1. Stop the server if it's running (use mysqladmin shutdown).
  2. Change the database directories and files so that user_name has privileges to read and write files in them (you may need to do this as the Unix root user):
    shell> chown -R user_name /path/to/mysql/datadir
    If directories or files within the MySQL data directory are symlinks, you'll also need to follow those links and change the directories and files they point to. chown -R may not follow symlinks for you.
  3. Start the server as user user_name, or, if you are using MySQL 3.22 or later, start mysqld as the Unix root user and use the --user=user_name option. mysqld will switch to run as Unix user user_name before accepting any connections.
  4. If you are using the mysql.server script to start mysqld when the system is rebooted, you should edit mysql.server to use su to run mysqld as user user_name, or to invoke mysqld with the --user option. (No changes to safe_mysqld are necessary.)

At this point, your mysqld process should be running fine and dandy as the Unix user user_name. One thing hasn't changed, though: the contents of the permissions tables. By default (right after running the permissions table install script mysql_install_db), the MySQL user root is the only user with permission to access the mysql database or to create or drop databases. Unless you have changed those permissions, they still hold. This shouldn't stop you from accessing MySQL as the MySQL root user when you're logged in as a Unix user other than root; just specify the -u root option to the client program.

Note that accessing MySQL as root, by supplying -u root on the command line, has nothing to do with MySQL running as the Unix root user, or, indeed, as other Unix user. The access permissions and user names of MySQL are completely separate from Unix user names. The only connection with Unix user names is that if you don't provide a -u option when you invoke a client program, the client will try to connect using your Unix login name as your MySQL user name.

If your Unix box itself isn't secured, you should probably at least put a password on the MySQL root users in the access tables. Otherwise, any user with an account on that machine can run mysql -u root db_name and do whatever he likes.

16.8 Problems with file permissions

If you have problems with file permissions, for example, if mysql issues the following error message when you create a table:

ERROR: Can't find file: 'path/with/filename.frm' (Errcode: 13)

Then the environment variable UMASK might be set incorrectly when mysqld starts up. The default umask value is 0660. You can change this behavior by starting safe_mysqld as follows:

shell> UMASK=384  # = 600 in octal
shell> export UMASK
shell> /path/to/safe_mysqld &

16.9 File not found

If you get ERROR '...' not found (errno: 23), Can't open file: ... (errno: 24) or any other error with errno 23 or errno 24 from MySQL, it means that you haven't allocated enough file descriptors for MySQL. You can use the perror utility to get a description of what the error number means:

shell> perror 23
File table overflow
shell> perror 24
Too many open files

The problem here is that mysqld is trying to keep open too many files simultaneously. You can either tell mysqld not to open so many files at once, or increase the number of file descriptors available to mysqld.

To tell mysqld to keep open fewer files at a time, you can make the table cache smaller by using the -O table_cache=32 option to safe_mysqld (the default value is 64). Reducing the value of max_connections will also reduce the number of open files (the default value is 90).

To change the number of file descriptors available to mysqld, modify the safe_mysqld script. There is a commented-out line ulimit -n 256 in the script. You can remove the '#' character to uncomment this line, and change the number 256 to change the number of file descriptors available to mysqld.

ulimit can increase the number of file descriptors, but only up to the limit imposed by the operating system. If you need to increase the OS limit on the number of file descriptors available to each process, consult the documentation for your operating system.

16.10 Problems using DATE columns

The format of a DATE value is 'YYYY-MM-DD'. According to ANSI SQL, no other format is allowed. You should use this format in UPDATE expressions and in the WHERE clause of SELECT statements. For example:

mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE date >= '1997-05-05';

As a convenience, MySQL automatically converts a date to a number if the date is used in a numeric context (and vice versa). It is also smart enough to allow a "relaxed" string form when updating and in a WHERE clause that compares a date to a TIMESTAMP, DATE or a DATETIME column. (Relaxed form means that any non-numeric character may be used as the separator between parts. For example, '1998-08-15' and '1998#08#15' are equivalent.) MySQL can also convert a string containing no separators (such as '19980815'), provided it makes sense as a date.

The special date '0000-00-00' can be stored and retrieved as '0000-00-00'. When using a '0000-00-00' date through MyODBC, it will automatically be converted to NULL in MyODBC 2.50.12 and above, because ODBC can't handle this kind of date.

Since MySQL performs the conversions described above, the following statements work:

mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES (19970505);
mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES ('19970505');
mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES ('97-05-05');
mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES ('1997.05.05');
mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES ('1997 05 05');
mysql> INSERT INTO tbl_name (idate) VALUES ('0000-00-00');

mysql> SELECT idate FROM tbl_name WHERE idate >= '1997-05-05';
mysql> SELECT idate FROM tbl_name WHERE idate >= 19970505;
mysql> SELECT mod(idate,100) FROM tbl_name WHERE idate >= 19970505;
mysql> SELECT idate FROM tbl_name WHERE idate >= '19970505';

However, the following will not work:

mysql> SELECT idate FROM tbl_name WHERE STRCMP(idate,'19970505')=0;

STRCMP() is a string function, so it converts idate to a string and performs a string comparison. It does not convert '19970505' to a date and perform a date comparison.

Note that MySQL does no checking whether or not the date is correct. If you store an incorrect date, such as '1998-2-31', the wrong date will be stored. If the date cannot be converted to any reasonable value, a 0 is stored in the DATE field. This is mainly a speed issue and we think it is up to the application to check the dates, and not the server.

16.11 Case sensitivity in searches

By default, MySQL searches are case-insensitive (although there are some character sets that are never case insensitive, such as czech). That means that if you search with col_name LIKE 'a%', you will get all column values that start with A or a. If you want to make this search case-sensitive, use something like INDEX(col_name, "A")=0 to check a prefix. Or use STRCMP(col_name, "A") = 0 if the column value must be exactly "A".

Simple comparison operations (>=, >, = , < , <=, sorting and grouping) are based on each character's "sort value". Characters with the same sort value (like E, e and 'e) are treated as the same character!

LIKE comparisons are done on the uppercase value of each character (E == e but E <> 'e)

If you want a column always to be treated in case-sensitive fashion, declare it as BINARY. See section 7.6 CREATE TABLE syntax.

If you are using Chinese data in the so-called big5 encoding, you want to make all character columns BINARY. This works because the sorting order of big5 encoding characters is based on the order of ASCII codes.

16.12 Problems with NULL values

The concept of the NULL value is a common source of confusion for newcomers to SQL, who often think that NULL is the same thing as an empty string ". This is not the case! For example, the following statements are completely different:

mysql> INSERT INTO my_table (phone) VALUES (NULL);
mysql> INSERT INTO my_table (phone) VALUES ("");

Both statements insert a value into the phone column, but the first inserts a NULL value and the second inserts an empty string. The meaning of the first can be regarded as "phone number is not known" and the meaning of the second can be regarded as "she has no phone".

In SQL, the NULL value is always false in comparison to any other value, even NULL. An expression that contains NULL always produces a NULL value unless otherwise indicated in the documentation for the operators and functions involved in the expression. All columns in the following example return NULL:

mysql> SELECT NULL,1+NULL,CONCAT('Invisible',NULL);

If you want to search for column values that are NULL, you cannot use the =NULL test. The following statement returns no rows, because expr = NULL is FALSE, for any expression:

mysql> SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE phone = NULL;

To look for NULL values, you must use the IS NULL test. The following shows how to find the NULL phone number and the empty phone number:

mysql> SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE phone IS NULL;
mysql> SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE phone = "";

In MySQL, as in many other SQL servers, you can't index columns that can have NULL values. You must declare such columns NOT NULL. Conversely, you cannot insert NULL into an indexed column.

When reading data with LOAD DATA INFILE, empty columns are updated with ". If you want a NULL value in a column, you should use \N in the text file. The literal word 'NULL' may also be used under some circumstances. See section 7.15 LOAD DATA INFILE syntax.

When using ORDER BY, NULL values are presented first. If you sort in descending order using DESC, NULL values are presented last. When using GROUP BY, all NULL values are regarded as equal.

To help with NULL handling, you can use the functions IS NULL, IS NOT NULL and IFNULL().

For some column types, NULL values are handled specially. If you insert NULL into the first TIMESTAMP column of a table, the current time is inserted. If you insert NULL into an AUTO_INCREMENT column, the next number in the sequence is inserted.

16.13 Problems with alias

You can use alias to refer to a column in the GROUP BY, ORDER BY or in the HAVING part. Aliases can also be used to give columns more better names:

SELECT SQRT(a*b) as rt FROM table_name GROUP BY rt HAVING rt > 0;
SELECT id,COUNT(*) AS cnt FROM table_name GROUP BY id HAVING cnt > 0;
SELECT id AS "Customer identity" FROM table_name;

Note that you ANSI SQL doesn't allow you to refer to an alias in a WHERE clause. This is because that when the WHERE code is executed the column value may not yet be determinated. For example the following query is illegal:

SELECT id,COUNT(*) AS cnt FROM table_name WHERE cnt > 0 GROUP BY id;

The WHERE statement is executed to determinate which rows should be included in the GROUP BY part while HAVING is used to decide which rows from the result set should be used.

16.14 Deleting rows from related tables

As MySQL doesn't support sub-selects or use of more than one table in the DELETE statement, you should use the following approach to delete rows from 2 related tables:

  1. SELECT the rows based on some WHERE condition in the main table.
  2. DELETE the rows in the main table based on the same condition.
  3. DELETE FROM related_table WHERE related_column IN (selected_rows)

If the total number of characters in the query with related_column is more than 1,048,576 (the default value of max_allowed_packet, you should split it into smaller parts and execute multiple DELETE statements. You will probably get the fastest DELETE by only deleting 100-1000 related_column id's per time if the related_column is an index. If the related_column isn't an index, the speed is independent of the number of arguments in the IN clause.

16.15 Solving problems with no matching rows

If you have a complicated query with many tables that doesn't return any rows, you should use the following procedure to find out what is wrong with your query:

  1. Test the query with EXPLAIN and check if you can find something that is obviously wrong. See section 7.21 EXPLAIN syntax (Get information about a SELECT).
  2. Select only those fields that are used in the WHERE clause.
  3. Remove one table at a time from the query until it returns some rows. If the tables are big, it's a good idea to use LIMIT 10 with the query.
  4. Do a SELECT for the column that should have matched a row, against the table that was last removed from the query.
  5. If you are comparing float or double with numbers that have decimals, you can't use = ! This problem is common in most computer languages as floating point values are not exact values.
    SELECT * FROM table_name WHERE float_column=3.5;
    SELECT * FROM table_name WHERE float_column between 3.45 and 3.55;
  6. If you still can't find out what's wrong, create a minimal test that can be run with mysql test < query.sql that shows your problems. You can create a test file with mysqldump --quick database tables > query.sql. Take the file up in a editor, remove some insert lines (if there are too many of these) and add your select statement last in the file. Test that you still have your problem by doing:
    shell> mysqladmin create test2
    shell> mysql test2 < query.sql
    Post the test file using mysqlbug to

16.16 Problems with ALTER TABLE.

If ALTER TABLE dies with an error like this:

Error on rename of './database/name.frm' to './database/B-a.frm' (Errcode: 17)

The problem may be that MySQL has crashed in a previous ALTER TABLE and there is an old table named `A-something' or `B-something' lying around. In this case, go to the MySQL data directory and delete all files that have names starting with A- or B-. (You may want to move them elsewhere instead of deleting them).

ALTER TABLE works the following way:

If something goes wrong with the renaming operation, MySQL tries to undo the changes. If something goes seriously wrong (this shouldn't happen, of course), MySQL may leave the old table as `B-xxx' but a simple rename should get your data back.

This document was generated on 3 January 1999 using the texi2html translator version 1.52 (extended by