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14.7.3 Limitations of the FEDERATED Storage Engine

The following items indicate features that the FEDERATED storage engine does and does not support:

  • The remote server must be a MySQL server.

  • The remote table that a FEDERATED table points to must exist before you try to access the table through the FEDERATED table.

  • It is possible for one FEDERATED table to point to another, but you must be careful not to create a loop.

  • There is no support for transactions.

  • A FEDERATED table does not support indexes in the usual sense; because access to the table data is handled remotely, it is actually the remote table that makes use of indexes. This means that, for a query that cannot use any indexes and so requires a full table scan, the server fetches all rows from the remote table and filters them locally. This occurs regardless of any WHERE or LIMIT used with this SELECT statement; these clauses are applied locally to the returned rows.

    Queries that fail to use indexes can thus cause poor performance and network overload. In addition, since returned rows must be stored in memory, such a query can also lead to the local server swapping, or even hanging.

  • Care should be taken when creating a FEDERATED table since the index definition from an equivalent MyISAM or other table may not be supported. For example, creating a FEDERATED table with an index prefix on VARCHAR, TEXT or BLOB columns will fail. The following definition in MyISAM is valid:


    The key prefix in this example is incompatible with the FEDERATED engine, and the equivalent statement will fail:


    If possible, you should try to separate the column and index definition when creating tables on both the remote server and the local server to avoid these index issues.

  • Internally, the implementation uses SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE, but not HANDLER.

  • The FEDERATED storage engine supports SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, and indexes. It does not support ALTER TABLE, or any Data Definition Language statements that directly affect the structure of the table, other than DROP TABLE. The current implementation does not use prepared statements.

  • FEDERATED accepts INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE statements, but if a duplicate-key violation occurs, the statement fails with an error.

  • Performance on a FEDERATED table when performing bulk inserts (for example, on a INSERT INTO ... SELECT ... statement) is slower than with other table types because each selected row is treated as an individual INSERT statement on the federated table.

  • Before MySQL 5.0.46, for a multiple-row insert into a FEDERATED table that refers to a remote transactional table, if the insert failed for a row due to constraint failure, the remote table would contain a partial commit (the rows preceding the failed one) instead of rolling back the statement completely. This occurred because the rows were treated as individual inserts.

    As of MySQL 5.0.46, FEDERATED performs bulk-insert handling such that multiple rows are sent to the remote table in a batch. This provides a performance improvement. Also, if the remote table is transactional, it enables the remote storage engine to perform statement rollback properly should an error occur. This capability has the following limitations:

    • The size of the insert cannot exceed the maximum packet size between servers. If the insert exceeds this size, it is broken into multiple packets and the rollback problem can occur.

    • Bulk-insert handling does not occur for INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE.

  • There is no way for the FEDERATED engine to know if the remote table has changed. The reason for this is that this table must work like a data file that would never be written to by anything other than the database system. The integrity of the data in the local table could be breached if there was any change to the remote database.

  • Any DROP TABLE statement issued against a FEDERATED table drops only the local table, not the remote table.

  • FEDERATED tables do not work with the query cache.

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