This section describes issues that you may face when converting
character data between the
utf8mb4 character sets.
This discussion focuses primarily on converting between
similar principles apply to converting between the
ucs2 character set and character sets such
character sets differ as follows:
utf8mb3supports only characters in the Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP).
utf8mb4additionally supports supplementary characters that lie outside the BMP.
utf8mb3uses a maximum of three bytes per character.
utf8mb4uses a maximum of four bytes per character.
This discussion refers to the
utf8mb4 character set names to be explicit
about referring to 3-byte and 4-byte UTF-8 character set data.
The exception is that in table definitions,
utf8 is used because MySQL converts
utf8mb3 specified in such
utf8, which is an alias for
One advantage of converting from
utf8mb4 is that this enables applications to
use supplementary characters. One tradeoff is that this may
increase data storage space requirements.
In terms of table content, conversion from
presents no problems:
For a BMP character,
utf8mb3have identical storage characteristics: same code values, same encoding, same length.
For a supplementary character,
utf8mb4requires four bytes to store it, whereas
utf8mb3cannot store the character at all. When converting
utf8mb4, you need not worry about converting supplementary characters because there are none.
In terms of table structure, these are the primary potential incompatibilities:
Consequently, to convert tables from
utf8mb4, it may be necessary to change
some column or index definitions.
Tables can be converted from
utf8mb4 by using
TABLE. Suppose that a table has this definition:
CREATE TABLE t1 ( col1 CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci NOT NULL, col2 CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_bin NOT NULL ) CHARACTER SET utf8;
The following statement converts
t1 to use
ALTER TABLE t1 DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8mb4, MODIFY col1 CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci NOT NULL, MODIFY col2 CHAR(10) CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_bin NOT NULL;
The catch when converting from
utf8mb4 is that the maximum length of a
column or index key is unchanged in terms of
bytes. Therefore, it is smaller in terms of
characters because the maximum length of a
character is four bytes instead of three. For the
TEXT data types, watch for these
issues when converting your MySQL tables:
Check all definitions of
utf8mb3columns and make sure they do not exceed the maximum length for the storage engine.
Check all indexes on
utf8mb3columns and make sure they do not exceed the maximum length for the storage engine. Sometimes the maximum can change due to storage engine enhancements.
If the preceding conditions apply, you must either reduce the
defined length of columns or indexes, or continue to use
utf8mb3 rather than
Here are some examples where structural changes may be needed:
TINYTEXTcolumn can hold up to 255 bytes, so it can hold up to 85 3-byte or 63 4-byte characters. Suppose that you have a
TINYTEXTcolumn that uses
utf8mb3but must be able to contain more than 63 characters. You cannot convert it to
utf8mb4unless you also change the data type to a longer type such as
InnoDBhas a maximum index length of 767 bytes for tables that use
REDUNDANTrow format, so for
utf8mb4columns, you can index a maximum of 255 or 191 characters, respectively. If you currently have
utf8mb3columns with indexes longer than 191 characters, you must index a smaller number of characters.
col1 VARCHAR(500) CHARACTER SET utf8, INDEX (col1(255))
utf8mb4instead, the index must be smaller:
col1 VARCHAR(500) CHARACTER SET utf8mb4, INDEX (col1(191))Note
InnoDBtables that use
DYNAMICrow format, index key prefixes longer than 767 bytes (up to 3072 bytes) are permitted. Tables created with these row formats enable you to index a maximum of 1024 or 768 characters for
utf8mb4columns, respectively. For related information, see InnoDB Limits, and DYNAMIC Row Format.
The preceding types of changes are most likely to be required
only if you have very long columns or indexes. Otherwise, you
should be able to convert your tables from
ALTER TABLE as
The following items summarize other potential incompatibilities:
SET NAMES 'utf8mb4'causes use of the 4-byte character set for connection character sets. As long as no 4-byte characters are sent from the server, there should be no problems. Otherwise, applications that expect to receive a maximum of three bytes per character may have problems. Conversely, applications that expect to send 4-byte characters must ensure that the server understands them.
For replication, if character sets that support supplementary characters are to be used on the source, all replicas must understand them as well.
Also, keep in mind the general principle that if a table has different definitions on the source and replica, this can lead to unexpected results. For example, the differences in maximum index key length make it risky to use
utf8mb3on the source and
utf8mb4on the replica.
If you have converted to
utf32, and then decide to convert back to
example, to downgrade to an older version of MySQL), these
ucs2data should present no problems.
The server must be recent enough to recognize definitions referring to the character set from which you are converting.
For object definitions that refer to the
utf8mb4character set, you can dump them with mysqldump prior to downgrading, edit the dump file to change instances of
utf8, and reload the file in the older server, as long as there are no 4-byte characters in the data. The older server sees
utf8in the dump file object definitions and create new objects that use the (3-byte)