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My SQL Interview Questions and Answers

How MySQL Opens and Closes Tables ?
table_cache, max_connections, and max_tmp_tables affect the maximum number of files the server keeps open. If you increase one or both of these values, you may run up against a limit imposed by your operating system on the per-process number of open file descriptors. However, you can increase the limit on many systems. Consult your OS documentation to find out how to do this, because the method for changing the limit varies widely from system to system.

table_cache is related to max_connections. For example, for 200 concurrent running connections, you should have a table cache of at least 200 * n, where n is the maximum number of tables in a join.

The cache of open tables can grow to a maximum of table_cache (default 64; this can be changed with the -O table_cache=# option to mysqld). A table is never closed, except when the cache is full and another thread tries to open a table or if you use mysqladmin refresh or mysqladmin flush-tables.

When the table cache fills up, the server uses the following procedure to locate a cache entry to use:

Tables that are not currently in use are released, in least-recently-used order.
If the cache is full and no tables can be released, but a new table needs to be opened, the cache is temporarily extended as necessary.
If the cache is in a temporarily-extended state and a table goes from in-use to not-in-use state, the table is closed and released from the cache.
A table is opened for each concurrent access. This means that if you have two threads accessing the same table or access the table twice in the same query (with AS) the table needs to be opened twice. The first open of any table takes two file descriptors; each additional use of the table takes only one file descriptor. The extra descriptor for the first open is used for the index file; this descriptor is shared among all threads.

You can check if your table cache is too small by checking the mysqld variable opened_tables. If this is quite big, even if you haven't done a lot of FLUSH TABLES, you should increase your table cache.

MySQL - Drawbacks to Creating Large Numbers of Tables in the Same Database
If you have many files in a directory, open, close, and create operations will be slow. If you execute SELECT statements on many different tables, there will be a little overhead when the table cache is full, because for every table that has to be opened, another must be closed. You can reduce this overhead by making the table cache larger.

MySQL - Why So Many Open tables?
When you run mysqladmin status, you'll see something like this:

Uptime: 426 Running threads: 1 Questions: 11082 Reloads: 1 Open tables: 12

This can be somewhat perplexing if you only have 6 tables.

MySQL is multithreaded, so it may have many queries on the same table simultaneously. To minimize the problem with two threads having different states on the same file, the table is opened independently by each concurrent thread. This takes some memory and one extra file descriptor for the data file. The index file descriptor is shared between all threads.

How MySQL Uses Memory ?
The list below indicates some of the ways that the mysqld server uses memory. Where applicable, the name of the server variable relevant to the memory use is given:

The key buffer (variable key_buffer_size) is shared by all threads; Other buffers used by the server are allocated as needed.

Each connection uses some thread-specific space: A stack (default 64K, variable thread_stack), a connection buffer (variable net_buffer_length), and a result buffer (variable net_buffer_length). The connection buffer and result buffer are dynamically enlarged up to max_allowed_packet when needed. When a query is running, a copy of the current query string is also allocated.
All threads share the same base memory.
Only the compressed ISAM / MyISAM tables are memory mapped. This is because the 32-bit memory space of 4GB is not large enough for most big tables. When systems with a 64-bit address space become more common we may add general support for memory mapping.
Each request doing a sequential scan over a table allocates a read buffer (variable record_buffer).
All joins are done in one pass, and most joins can be done without even using a temporary table. Most temporary tables are memory-based (HEAP) tables. Temporary tables with a big record length (calculated as the sum of all column lengths) or that contain BLOB columns are stored on disk. One problem in MySQL versions before Version 3.23.2 is that if a HEAP table exceeds the size of tmp_table_size, you get the error The table tbl_name is full. In newer versions this is handled by automatically changing the in-memory (HEAP) table to a disk-based (MyISAM) table as necessary. To work around this problem, you can increase the temporary table size by setting the tmp_table_size option to mysqld, or by setting the SQL option SQL_BIG_TABLES in the client program.

In MySQL Version 3.20, the maximum size of the temporary table was record_buffer*16, so if you are using this version, you have to increase the value of record_buffer. You can also start mysqld with the --big-tables option to always store temporary tables on disk. However, this will affect the speed of many complicated queries.
Most requests doing a sort allocates a sort buffer and 0-2 temporary files depending on the result set size.

Almost all parsing and calculating is done in a local memory store. No memory overhead is needed for small items and the normal slow memory allocation and freeing is avoided. Memory is allocated only for unexpectedly large strings (this is done with malloc() and free()).
Each index file is opened once and the data file is opened once for each concurrently running thread. For each concurrent thread, a table structure, column structures for each column, and a buffer of size 3 * n is allocated (where n is the maximum row length, not counting BLOB columns). A BLOB uses 5 to 8 bytes plus the length of the BLOB data. The ISAM/MyISAM table handlers will use one extra row buffer for internal usage.
For each table having BLOB columns, a buffer is enlarged dynamically to read in larger BLOB values. If you scan a table, a buffer as large as the largest BLOB value is allocated.
Table handlers for all in-use tables are saved in a cache and managed as a FIFO. Normally the cache has 64 entries. If a table has been used by two running threads at the same time, the cache contains two entries for the table.

A mysqladmin flush-tables command closes all tables that are not in use and marks all in-use tables to be closed when the currently executing thread finishes. This will effectively free most in-use memory. ps and other system status programs may report that mysqld uses a lot of memory. This may be caused by thread-stacks on different memory addresses. For example, the Solaris version of ps counts the unused memory between stacks as used memory. You can verify this by checking available swap with swap -s. We have tested mysqld with commercial memory-leakage detectors, so there should be no memory leaks.

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