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MySQL 5.5 Reference Manual  /  Data Types  /  Choosing the Right Type for a Column

11.8 Choosing the Right Type for a Column

For optimum storage, you should try to use the most precise type in all cases. For example, if an integer column is used for values in the range from 1 to 99999, MEDIUMINT UNSIGNED is the best type. Of the types that represent all the required values, this type uses the least amount of storage.

All basic calculations (+, -, *, and /) with DECIMAL columns are done with precision of 65 decimal (base 10) digits. See Section 11.1.1, “Numeric Type Overview”.

If accuracy is not too important or if speed is the highest priority, the DOUBLE type may be good enough. For high precision, you can always convert to a fixed-point type stored in a BIGINT. This enables you to do all calculations with 64-bit integers and then convert results back to floating-point values as necessary.

PROCEDURE ANALYSE can be used to obtain suggestions for optimal column data types. For more information, see Section 8.4.2.4, “Using PROCEDURE ANALYSE”.