How Big MySQL Tables Can Be

MySQL 3.22 had a 4GB (4 gigabyte) limit on table size. With the MyISAM storage engine in MySQL 3.23, the maximum table size was increased to 8 million terabytes (2 ^ 63 bytes). With this larger allowed table size, the maximum effective table size for MySQL databases now usually is determined by operating system constraints on file sizes, not by MySQL internal limits.

The InnoDB storage engine maintains InnoDB tables within a tablespace that can be created from several files. This allows a table to exceed the maximum individual file size. The tablespace can include raw disk partitions, which allows extremely large tables. The maximum tablespace size is 64TB.

The following table lists some examples of operating system file-size limits. This is only a rough guide and is not intended to be definitive. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to check the documentation specific to your operating system.

Linux 2.2-Intel 32-bit – 2GB (LFS: 4GB)
Linux 2.4 (using ext3 filesystem) – 4TB
Solaris 9/10 – 16TB
NetWare w/NSS filesystem – 8TB
win32 w/ FAT/FAT32 – 2GB/4GB
win32 w/ NTFS – 2TB (possibly larger)
MacOS X w/ HFS+ – 2TB

On Linux 2.2, you can get MyISAM tables larger than 2GB in size by using the Large File Support (LFS) patch for the ext2 filesystem. On Linux 2.4, patches also exist for ReiserFS to get support for big files (up to 2TB). Most current Linux distributions are based on kernel 2.4 and already include all the required LFS patches. With JFS and XFS, petabyte and larger files are possible on Linux. However, the maximum available file size still depends on several factors, one of them being the filesystem used to store MySQL tables.

For a detailed overview about LFS in Linux, have a look at Andreas Jaeger’s Large File Support in Linux page at

Windows users please note: FAT and VFAT (FAT32) are not considered suitable for production use with MySQL. Use NTFS instead.

By default, MySQL creates MyISAM tables with an internal structure that allows a maximum size of about 4GB. You can check the maximum table size for a table with the SHOW TABLE STATUS statement or with myisamchk -dv tbl_name.

If you need a MyISAM table that will be larger than 4GB in size (and your operating system supports large files), the CREATE TABLE statement allows AVG_ROW_LENGTH and MAX_ROWS options. You can also change these options with ALTER TABLE after the table has been created, to increase the table’s maximum allowable size.

Other ways to work around file-size limits for MyISAM tables are as follows:

* If your large table is read-only, you can use myisampack to compress it. myisampack usually compresses a table by at least 50%, so you can have, in effect, much bigger tables. myisampack also can merge multiple tables into a single table.
* Another way to get around the operating system file limit for MyISAM data files is by using the RAID options. See section
* MySQL includes a MERGE library that allows you to handle a collection of MyISAM tables that have identical structure as a single MERGE table.


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