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MySQL 5.6 Reference Manual  /  ...  /  Reclaiming Disk Space with TRUNCATE TABLE

14.12.5 Reclaiming Disk Space with TRUNCATE TABLE

To reclaim operating system disk space when truncating an InnoDB table, the table must be stored in its own .ibd file. For a table to be stored in its own .ibd file, innodb_file_per_table must enabled when the table is created. Additionally, there cannot be a foreign key constraint between the table being truncated and other tables, otherwise the TRUNCATE TABLE operation fails. A foreign key constraint between two columns in the same table, however, is permitted.

When a table is truncated, it is dropped and re-created in a new .ibd file, and the freed space is returned to the operating system. This is in contrast to truncating InnoDB tables that are stored within the InnoDB system tablespace (tables created when innodb_file_per_table=OFF), where only InnoDB can use the freed space after the table is truncated.

The ability to truncate tables and return disk space to the operating system also means that physical backups can be smaller. Truncating tables that are stored in the system tablespace (tables created when innodb_file_per_table=OFF) leaves blocks of unused space in the system tablespace.