MyISAM vs InnoDB - Differences, Comparison, Explanations

Author: Zeeshan Arshad     1092     11/27/2015

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 37 seconds

I have compiled a list of helpful aricles and comments and it will be very helpful for a brief detail regarding MyISAM and InnoDB.

Quick Differences View

MYISAM:

  1. MYISAM supports Table-level Locking
  2. MyISAM designed for need of speed
  3. MyISAM does not support foreign keys hence we call MySQL with MYISAM is DBMS
  4. MyISAM stores its tables, data and indexes in diskspace using separate three different files. (tablename.FRM, tablename.MYD, tablename.MYI)
  5. MYISAM not supports transaction. You cannot commit and rollback with MYISAM. Once you issue a command it’s done.

INNODB:

  1. InnoDB supports Row-level Locking
  2. InnoDB designed for maximum performance when processing high volume of data
  3. InnoDB support foreign keys hence we call MySQL with InnoDB is RDBMS
  4. InnoDB stores its tables and indexes in a tablespace
  5. InnoDB supports transaction. You can commit and rollback with InnoDB

Credit goes to: Raja Usman Mehmood


Major Difference between MyISAM and InnoDB

The major difference between MyISAM and InnoDB is in referential integrity and transactions. There are also other difference such as locking, rollbacks, and full-text searches.

Referential Integrity

Referential integrity ensures that relationships between tables remains consistent. More specifically, this means when a table (e.g. Listings) has a foreign key (e.g. Product ID) pointing to a different table (e.g. Products), when updates or deletes occur to the pointed-to table, these changes are cascaded to the linking table. In our example, if a product is renamed, the linking table’s foreign keys will also update; if a product is deleted from the ‘Products’ table, any listings which point to the deleted entry will also be deleted. Furthermore, any new listing must have that foreign key pointing to a valid, existing entry.

InnoDB is a relational DBMS (RDBMS) and thus has referential integrity, while MyISAM does not.

Transactions & Atomicity

Data in a table is managed using Data Manipulation Language (DML) statements, such as SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE. A transaction group two or more DML statements together into a single unit of work, so either the entire unit is applied, or none of it is.

MyISAM do not support transactions whereas InnoDB does.

If an operation is interrupted while using a MyISAM table, the operation is aborted immediately, and the rows (or even data within each row) that are affected remains affected, even if the operation did not go to completion.

If an operation is interrupted while using an InnoDB table, because it using transactions, which has atomicity, any transaction which did not go to completion will not take effect, since no commit is made.

Table-locking vs Row-locking

When a query runs against a MyISAM table, the entire table in which it is querying will be locked. This means subsequent queries will only be executed after the current one is finished. If you are reading a large table, and/or there are frequent read and write operations, this can mean a huge backlog of queries.

When a query runs against an InnoDB table, only the row(s) which are involved are locked, the rest of the table remains available for CRUD operations. This means queries can run simultaneously on the same table, provided they do not use the same row.

This feature in InnoDB is known as concurrency. As great as concurrency is, there is a major drawback that applies to a select range of tables, in that there is an overhead in switching between kernel threads, and you should set a limit on the kernel threads to prevent the server coming to a halt.

Transactions & Rollbacks

When you run an operation in MyISAM, the changes are set; in InnoDB, those changes can be rolled back. The most common commands used to control transactions are COMMIT, ROLLBACK and SAVEPOINT. 1. COMMIT - you can write multiple DML operations, but the changes will only be saved when a COMMIT is made 2. ROLLBACK - you can discard any operations that have not yet been committed yet 3. SAVEPOINT - sets a point in the list of operations to which a ROLLBACK operation can rollback to

Reliability

MyISAM offers no data integrity - Hardware failures, unclean shutdowns and canceled operations can cause the data to become corrupt. This would require full repair or rebuilds of the indexes and tables.

InnoDB, on the other hand, uses a transactional log, a double-write buffer and automatic checksumming and validation to prevent corruption. Before InnoDB makes any changes, it records the data before the transactions into a system tablespace file called ibdata1. If there is a crash, InnoDB would autorecover through the replay of those logs.

FULLTEXT Indexing

InnoDB does not support FULLTEXT indexing until MySQL version 5.6.4. As of the writing of this post, many shared hosting providers’ MySQL version is still below 5.6.4, which means FULLTEXT indexing is not supported for InnoDB tables.

However, this is not a valid reason to use MyISAM. It’s best to change to a hosting provider that supports up-to-date versions of MySQL. Not that a MyISAM table that uses FULLTEXT indexing cannot be converted to an InnoDB table.

Conclusion

In conclusion, InnoDB should be your default storage engine of choice. Choose MyISAM or other data types when they serve a specific need.

Credit goes to: d4nyll


Helpful Statements

One scenario I may still advise to use MyISAM is when a great amount of the write traffic is to one table, probably called “log” or “events” or something. This write traffic is entirely INSERT-only, and it has become too high for the InnoDB redo log to process efficiently. It’s not highly critical data, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it got corrupted.

So: ALTER that one table to MyISAM, and relieve the pressure on the redo log for all the other ACID writes. Though I suppose one could also use ARCHIVE for that table, so again we leave MyISAM with nothing to do.

~ Bill Karwin

If you don't really care about updating and recovering tables, and don't need transaction support you can use MyISAM. To solve problem with large amount of data you can consider using MySQL partitions and then periodically archive older entries in backup tables with archive engine.

Also you can consider delayed inserts if you are really concerned about reading speed.

~ Uday Sawant


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Zeeshan is a multi-talented serial freelacncer, specialist in custom apps/cms/automation scripts and online instructor.

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