MySQL 5.1 Reference Manual  /  ...  /  InnoDB File-Per-Table Tablespaces InnoDB File-Per-Table Tablespaces

You can store each InnoDB table and its indexes in its own data file. This feature is called file-per-table tablespaces because in effect each table has its own tablespace.

Advantages of File-Per-Table Tablespaces
  • You can reclaim disk space when truncating or dropping a table stored in a file-per-table tablepace. Truncating or dropping tables stored in the system tablespace creates free space internally in the system tablespace data files (ibdata files) which can only be used for new InnoDB data.

  • The TRUNCATE TABLE operation is faster when run on tables stored in file-per-table tablepaces.

  • You can store specific tables on separate storage devices, for I/O optimization, space management, or backup purposes.

  • You can run OPTIMIZE TABLE to compact or recreate a file-per-table tablespace. When you run an OPTIMIZE TABLE, InnoDB creates a new .ibd file with a temporary name, using only the space required to store actual data. When the optimization is complete, InnoDB removes the old .ibd file and replaces it with the new one. If the previous .ibd file grew significantly but the actual data only accounted for a portion of its size, running OPTIMIZE TABLE can reclaim the unused space.

  • You can move individual InnoDB tables rather than entire databases.

  • You can enable compression for table and index data, using the compressed row format.

  • You can enable more efficient storage for tables with large BLOB or TEXT columns using the dynamic row format.

  • File-per-table tablespaces may improve chances for a successful recovery and save time when a corruption occurs, when a server cannot be restarted, or when backup and binary logs are unavailable.

  • You can back up or restore a single table quickly, without interrupting the use of other InnoDB tables, using the MySQL Enterprise Backup product. See Partial Backup and Restore Options for details.

  • You can exclude tables stored in file-per-table tablespaces from a backup. This is beneficial if you have tables that require backup less frequently or on a different schedule.

  • File-per-table tablespaces are convenient for per-table status reporting when copying or backing up tables.

  • You can monitor table size at a file system level, without accessing MySQL.

  • Common Linux file systems do not permit concurrent writes to a single file when innodb_flush_method is set to O_DIRECT. As a result, there are possible performance improvements when using innodb_file_per_table in conjunction with innodb_flush_method.

  • The system tablespace stores the data dictionary and undo logs, and has a 64TB size limit. By comparison, each file-per-table tablespace has a 64TB size limit, which provides you with room for growth. See Section C.7.3, “Limits on Table Size” for related information.

Potential Disadvantages of File-Per-Table Tablespaces
  • With file-per-table tablespaces, each table may have unused space, which can only be utilized by rows of the same table. This could lead to wasted space if not properly managed.

  • fsync operations must run on each open table rather than on a single file. Because there is a separate fsync operation for each file, write operations on multiple tables cannot be combined into a single I/O operation. This may require InnoDB to perform a higher total number of fsync operations.

  • mysqld must keep one open file handle per table, which may impact performance if you have numerous tables in file-per-table tablespaces.

  • More file descriptors are used.

  • If backward compatibility with MySQL 5.1 is a concern, be aware that enabling innodb_file_per_table means that ALTER TABLE will move InnoDB tables from the system tablespace to individual .ibd files.

  • If many tables are growing there is potential for more fragmentation which can impede DROP TABLE and table scan performance. However, when fragmentation is managed, having files in their own tablespace can improve performance.

  • The buffer pool is scanned when dropping a file-per-table tablespace, which can take several seconds for buffer pools that are tens of gigabytes in size. The scan is performed with a broad internal lock, which may delay other operations. Tables in the system tablespace are not affected.

  • The innodb_autoextend_increment variable, which defines increment size (in MB) for extending the size of an auto-extending shared tablespace file when it becomes full, does not apply to file-per-table tablespace files, which are auto-extending regardless of the innodb_autoextend_increment setting. The initial extensions are by small amounts, after which extensions occur in increments of 4MB.

Enabling and Disabling File-Per-Table Tablespaces

To enable file-per-table tablespaces, start the server with the --innodb_file_per_table option. For example, add a line to the [mysqld] section of my.cnf:


With innodb_file_per_table enabled, InnoDB stores each newly created table into its own tbl_name.ibd file in the database directory where the table belongs. This is similar to what the MyISAM storage engine does, but MyISAM divides the table into a tbl_name.MYD data file and an tbl_name.MYI index file. For InnoDB, the data and the indexes are stored together in the .ibd file. The tbl_name.frm file is still created as usual.

You cannot freely move .ibd files between database directories as you can with MyISAM table files. This is because the table definition that is stored in the InnoDB shared tablespace includes the database name, and because InnoDB must preserve the consistency of transaction IDs and log sequence numbers.

If you remove the innodb_file_per_table line from my.cnf and restart the server, newly created InnoDB tables are created inside the shared tablespace files again.

The --innodb_file_per_table option affects only table creation, not access to existing tables. If you start the server with this option, new tables are created using .ibd files, but you can still access tables that exist in the shared tablespace. If you start the server without this option, new tables are created in the shared tablespace, but you can still access tables created in file-per-table tablespaces.


InnoDB requires the shared tablespace to store its internal data dictionary and undo logs. The .ibd files alone are not sufficient for InnoDB to operate.

To move an .ibd file and the associated table from one database to another, use a RENAME TABLE statement:

RENAME TABLE db1.tbl_name TO db2.tbl_name;

If you have a clean backup of an .ibd file, you can restore it to the MySQL installation from which it originated as follows:

  1. Issue this ALTER TABLE statement to delete the current .ibd file:

  2. Copy the backup .ibd file to the proper database directory.

  3. Issue this ALTER TABLE statement to tell InnoDB to use the new .ibd file for the table:


In this context, a clean .ibd file backup is one for which the following requirements are satisfied:

  • There are no uncommitted modifications by transactions in the .ibd file.

  • There are no unmerged insert buffer entries in the .ibd file.

  • Purge has removed all delete-marked index records from the .ibd file.

  • mysqld has flushed all modified pages of the .ibd file from the buffer pool to the file.

You can make a clean backup .ibd file using the following method:

  1. Stop all activity from the mysqld server and commit all transactions.

  2. Wait until SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS shows that there are no active transactions in the database, and the main thread status of InnoDB is Waiting for server activity. Then you can make a copy of the .ibd file.

Another method for making a clean copy of an .ibd file is to use the commercial MySQL Enterprise Backup product:

  1. Use MySQL Enterprise Backup to back up the InnoDB installation.

  2. Start a second mysqld server on the backup and let it clean up the .ibd files in the backup.

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