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Posted Dec 18, 2001

More Mysqld Tweaks - Page 4

By Ian Gilfillan

One of the primary errors when the system gets busy is Too many connections. It's generally no problem to increase the number. You can see how close you're running to max by comparing max_connections with the extended-status variable threads_connected. If you regularly come close, the time for some improvements is drawing near.

One improvement you can make on a code level is to use persistent connections rather than ordinary connections (e.g. using pconnect() rather than connect() in PHP), In this case, you may have a scenario with something like:

max_connections - 200
threads_connected - 155
threads_running - 1

Don't be worried that MySQL is wasting resources here. The 154 connections that aren't doing anything are persistent, meaning that you may have Web server instances running that are connected, but only one thread is actually running. The time it takes to process is usually very small. Personally, I've found persistent connections to be better, although there is no consensus on whether connections should be persistent or not in MySQL. Even though the connection overhead in MySQL is much lower than for other databases (with something like Oracle you have to use persistent connections), I've always found it to be better to keep the connection open for reuse rather than close and open it all the time. But test this for yourself, as some reports have indicated differently. (Be sure to test properly under load — some 'proofs' out there claiming non- persistent connections are better are scarily inaccurate.)

Another delay applies to systems that use INSERT DELAYED statements. There is a parameter called delayed_queue_size, defaulted to 1000. This means that after 1000 INSERT DELAYED statements are queued, the client is no longer released immediately (remember that this is the difference between INSERT DELAYED and INSERT LOW PRIORITY, see the article on Optimizing MySQL Queries and Indexes if you're not sure). If you have a busy system, and find clients are often being delayed as they hit this limit, you may want to increase this figure.

back_log is another value that may be worth increasing. If your system gets a lot of connection requests in a very short space of time, MySQL will start refusing connections after the value of this variable has been stacked. Increasing this gives your server more scope to handle these, but it obviously doesn't help if you just get too many connections. This just helps cope with those short bursts!

In a system such as the above, it is often an indicator of something going wrong when the threads_connected value starts to climb, usually meaning queries are getting locked, and you're approaching gridlock. Use a

show processes

to spot the guilty queries. By watching the queries that appear in this list, and seeing which are locking or taking too long to resolve, you can often identify a badly optimized query, and make improvements to it before the situation gets out of hand.

Another good indicator of a problem is a slow_queries value that is continually increasing. In a good system, you should have as few of these as possible. perhaps you do the odd complex join for an archive search. But if your routine queries are slow, you have a problem.

And lastly, as far the mysqld variables covered in this article, if you do lots of sorting (for example, ORDER BY clauses in your SELECT's), you'll probably need to tweak the sort_buffer. Each thread that does a sort allocates a buffer of this size. You may want to go beyond 8MB if you're doing lots of this kind of query.


As always, there's more to say and more to find out — use the generous documentation supplied by MySQL to read more about all the variables, and search their archives for discussions. But, before I leave you in the pit lane, there's one more topic I want to cover.

Besides RAM and processor speed, disk seek time is probably the primary hardware bottleneck. Increasing the speed of your disks alone can have a major impact on your database speed, but there are a few more tricks you can play.

On an operating system level, you can use striping (placing blocks on multiple disks), mount with the noatime flag (which means that you don't bother to record the last access time for a file. On your busy database system, the last access time was probably the last second for the files that count!). But these and other operating system tweaks will have to wait for another day (I'm just mentioning these to give a direction for the bright sparks who want to go further than this article).

The best way to speed up your available disks is to balance the load across multiple devices. Besides using striping, symbolic links provide the easiest way to achieve this. Let's assume you have two databases both accessed equally. By default these will appear on one device, so your disk is constantly moving around seeking records in both databases. It would be far better to place each of these databases on a separate device, thus reducing the amount of data on each individual disk (a disk is now called into action half the time it was before, and can find the records more quickly, as it has to move across less data than previously). The way to do this is quite simple:

ln -s source_directory target_directory

The source directory would be on the new device, while the target_directory would be the name of the directory containing the database you want to move (in MySQL databases are stored as directories, with the tables as files therein). The link then still works smoothly from its current location, but the data is stored in a new place.

Good luck with your optimization efforts. These are exciting times to be using MySQL, with MySQL 4 offering huge improvements in functionality and ease of use.

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