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MySQL 5.5 Reference Manual  /  ...  /  Disadvantages of Creating Many Tables in the Same Database

8.4.3.2 Disadvantages of Creating Many Tables in the Same Database

If you have many MyISAM tables in the same database directory, open, close, and create operations are slow. If you execute SELECT statements on many different tables, there is a little overhead when the table cache is full, because for every table that has to be opened, another must be closed. You can reduce this overhead by increasing the number of entries permitted in the table cache.