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InnoDB 1.1 for MySQL 5.5 User's Guide
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8.1. The Barracuda File Format

InnoDB has started using named file formats to improve compatibility in upgrade and downgrade situations, or heterogeneous systems running different levels of MySQL. Many important InnoDB features, such as table compression and the DYNAMIC row format for more efficient BLOB storage, require creating tables in the Barracuda file format. The original file format, which previously didn't have a name, is known now as Antelope.

To create new tables that take advantage of the Barracuda features, enable that file format using the configuration parameter innodb_file_format. The value of this parameter determines whether a newly created table or index can use compression or the new DYNAMIC row format.

To preclude the use of new features that would make your database inaccessible to the built-in InnoDB in MySQL 5.1 and prior releases, omit innodb_file_format or set it to Antelope.

You can set the value of innodb_file_format on the command line when you start mysqld, or in the option file my.cnf (Unix operating systems) or my.ini (Windows). You can also change it dynamically with the SET GLOBAL statement.

For more information about managing file formats, see Chapter 4, InnoDB File-Format Management.

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