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MySQL 5.7 Reference Manual  /  ...  /  2-Digit YEAR(2) Limitations and Migrating to 4-Digit YEAR

11.2.5 2-Digit YEAR(2) Limitations and Migrating to 4-Digit YEAR

This section describes problems that can occur when using the 2-digit YEAR(2) data type and provides information about converting existing YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit year-valued columns, which can be declared as YEAR with an implicit display width of 4 characters, or equivalently as YEAR(4) with an explicit display width.

Although the internal range of values for YEAR/YEAR(4) and the deprecated YEAR(2) type is the same (1901 to 2155, and 0000), the display width for YEAR(2) makes that type inherently ambiguous because displayed values indicate only the last two digits of the internal values and omit the century digits. The result can be a loss of information under certain circumstances. For this reason, avoid using YEAR(2) in your applications and use YEAR/YEAR(4) wherever you need a year-valued data type. As of MySQL 5.7.5, support for YEAR(2) is removed and existing 2-digit YEAR(2) columns must be converted to 4-digit YEAR columns to become usable again.

YEAR(2) Limitations

Issues with the YEAR(2) data type include ambiguity of displayed values, and possible loss of information when values are dumped and reloaded or converted to strings.

  • Displayed YEAR(2) values can be ambiguous. It is possible for up to three YEAR(2) values that have different internal values to have the same displayed value, as the following example demonstrates:

    mysql> CREATE TABLE t (y2 YEAR(2), y4 YEAR);
    Query OK, 0 rows affected, 1 warning (0.01 sec)
    mysql> INSERT INTO t (y2) VALUES(1912),(2012),(2112);
    Query OK, 3 rows affected (0.00 sec)
    Records: 3  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0
    mysql> UPDATE t SET y4 = y2;
    Query OK, 3 rows affected (0.00 sec)
    Rows matched: 3  Changed: 3  Warnings: 0
    mysql> SELECT * FROM t;
    | y2   | y4   |
    |   12 | 1912 |
    |   12 | 2012 |
    |   12 | 2112 |
    3 rows in set (0.00 sec)
  • If you use mysqldump to dump the table created in the preceding example, the dump file represents all y2 values using the same 2-digit representation (12). If you reload the table from the dump file, all resulting rows have internal value 2012 and display value 12, thus losing the distinctions between them.

  • Conversion of a 2-digit or 4-digit YEAR data value to string form uses the data type display width. Suppose that a YEAR(2) column and a YEAR/YEAR(4) column both contain the value 1970. Assigning each column to a string results in a value of '70' or '1970', respectively. That is, loss of information occurs for conversion from YEAR(2) to string.

  • Values outside the range from 1970 to 2069 are stored incorrectly when inserted into a YEAR(2) column in a CSV table. For example, inserting 2211 results in a display value of 11 but an internal value of 2011.

To avoid these problems, use the 4-digit YEAR or YEAR(4) data type rather than the 2-digit YEAR(2) data type. Suggestions regarding migration strategies appear later in this section.

Reduced/Removed YEAR(2) Support in MySQL 5.7

Before MySQL 5.7.5, support for YEAR(2) is diminished. As of MySQL 5.7.5, support for YEAR(2) is removed.

  • YEAR(2) column definitions for new tables produce warnings or errors:

    • Before MySQL 5.7.5, YEAR(2) column definitions for new tables are converted (with an ER_INVALID_YEAR_COLUMN_LENGTH warning) to 4-digit YEAR columns:

      mysql> CREATE TABLE t1 (y YEAR(2));
      Query OK, 0 rows affected, 1 warning (0.04 sec)
      mysql> SHOW WARNINGS\G
      *************************** 1. row ***************************
        Level: Warning
         Code: 1818
      Message: YEAR(2) column type is deprecated. Creating YEAR(4) column instead.
      1 row in set (0.00 sec)
      mysql> SHOW CREATE TABLE t1\G
      *************************** 1. row ***************************
             Table: t1
      Create Table: CREATE TABLE `t1` (
        `y` year(4) DEFAULT NULL
      1 row in set (0.00 sec)
    • As of MySQL 5.7.5, YEAR(2) column definitions for new tables produce an ER_INVALID_YEAR_COLUMN_LENGTH error:

      mysql> CREATE TABLE t1 (y YEAR(2));
      ERROR 1818 (HY000): Supports only YEAR or YEAR(4) column.
  • YEAR(2) column in existing tables remain as YEAR(2):

    • Before MySQL 5.7.5, YEAR(2) is processed in queries as in older versions of MySQL.

    • As of MySQL 5.7.5, YEAR(2) columns in queries produce warnings or errors.

  • Several programs or statements convert YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit YEAR columns automatically:

    • ALTER TABLE statements that result in a table rebuild.

    • REPAIR TABLE (which CHECK TABLE recommends you use, if it finds a table that contains YEAR(2) columns).

    • mysql_upgrade (which uses REPAIR TABLE).

    • Dumping with mysqldump and reloading the dump file. Unlike the conversions performed by the preceding three items, a dump and reload has the potential to change data values.

    A MySQL upgrade usually involves at least one of the last two items. However, with respect to YEAR(2), mysql_upgrade is preferable to mysqldump, which, as noted, can change data values.

Migrating from YEAR(2) to 4-Digit YEAR

To convert 2-digit YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit YEAR columns, you can do so manually at any time without upgrading. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a version of MySQL with reduced or removed support for YEAR(2) (MySQL 5.6.6 or later), then have MySQL convert YEAR(2) columns automatically. In the latter case, avoid upgrading by dumping and reloading your data because that can change data values. In addition, if you use replication, there are upgrade considerations you must take into account.

To convert 2-digit YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit YEAR manually, use ALTER TABLE or REPAIR TABLE. Suppose that a table t1 has this definition:


Modify the column using ALTER TABLE as follows:


The ALTER TABLE statement converts the table without changing YEAR(2) values. If the server is a replication source, the ALTER TABLE statement replicates to replicas and makes the corresponding table change on each one.

Another migration method is to perform a binary upgrade: Upgrade MySQL in place without dumping and reloading your data. Then run mysql_upgrade, which uses REPAIR TABLE to convert 2-digit YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit YEAR columns without changing data values. If the server is a replication source, the REPAIR TABLE statements replicate to replicas and make the corresponding table changes on each one, unless you invoke mysql_upgrade with the --skip-write-binlog option.

Upgrades to replication servers usually involve upgrading replicas to a newer version of MySQL, then upgrading the source. For example, if a source and replica both run MySQL 5.5, a typical upgrade sequence involves upgrading the replica to 5.6, then upgrading the source to 5.6. With regard to the different treatment of YEAR(2) as of MySQL 5.6.6, that upgrade sequence results in a problem: Suppose that the replica has been upgraded but not yet the source. Then creating a table containing a 2-digit YEAR(2) column on the source results in a table containing a 4-digit YEAR column on the replica. Consequently, the following operations have a different result on the source and replica, if you use statement-based replication:

  • Inserting numeric 0. The resulting value has an internal value of 2000 on the source but 0000 on the replica.

  • Converting YEAR(2) to string. This operation uses the display value of YEAR(2) on the source but YEAR(4) on the replica.

To avoid such problems, modify all 2-digit YEAR(2) columns on the source to 4-digit YEAR columns before upgrading. (Use ALTER TABLE, as described previously.) That makes it possible to upgrade normally (replica first, then source) without introducing any YEAR(2) to YEAR(4) differences between the source and replica.

One migration method should be avoided: Do not dump your data with mysqldump and reload the dump file after upgrading. That has the potential to change YEAR(2) values, as described previously.

A migration from 2-digit YEAR(2) columns to 4-digit YEAR columns should also involve examining application code for the possibility of changed behavior under conditions such as these:

  • Code that expects selecting a YEAR column to produce exactly two digits.

  • Code that does not account for different handling for inserts of numeric 0: Inserting 0 into YEAR(2) or YEAR(4) results in an internal value of 2000 or 0000, respectively.