A table files looks like:

id, file_name, vendor_id, created
1,  z.txt,     2,         2011
2,  z.txt,     2,         2011
3,  a.txt,     1,         2016
4,  a.txt,     1,         2016
5,  a.txt,     1,         2016
6,  b.txt,     1,         2015
7,  y.txt,     2,         2015
8,  x.txt,     2,         2014

There is an index on: file_name, vendor_id and created.

I want a list of the latest files (newest_file) of each vendor_id in a single query.

SELECT vendor_id, SUBSTRING_INDEX(GROUP_CONCAT(file_name ORDER BY created DESC), ',', 1) AS newest_file 
FROM files GROUP BY vendor_id

This query works perfect, but is very slow. Is there a faster alternative in a single query?

CREATE TABLE `files` (
  `created` datetime DEFAULT NULL,
  `file_name` varchar(255) CHARACTER SET utf8 DEFAULT NULL,
  `vendor_id` int(11) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
  `description` mediumtext CHARACTER SET utf8,
  `color` varchar(255) CHARACTER SET utf8 DEFAULT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  KEY `vendor_id` (`vendor_id`),
  KEY `file_name` (`file_name`),
  KEY `created` (`created`),

1 Answer 1


The best index for this query would be on (vendor_id, created, file_name), with this specific order on the indexed columns.

There are various other methods to rewrite this type of queries, without using GROUP_CONCAT(). There is even a tag, at SO and this site: .

One way to rewrite (needs the same index as above). It assumes that (vendor_id, created) is UNIQUE (ie. there are no two rows with same vendor and created) or it isn't unique and you want all the duplicate/tied results:

    f.file_name AS newest_file,
    f.created                    -- you can have this in the results as well
    ( SELECT vendor_id           -- you can replace the "v" subquery with  
      FROM files                 -- a single "vendors" table,
      GROUP BY vendor_id         -- if there is one
    ) AS v
  JOIN files AS f
  ON  f.vendor_id = v.vendor_id
  AND f.created =
      ( SELECT fi.created
        FROM files AS fi
        WHERE fi.vendor_id = v.vendor_id
        ORDER BY fi.created DESC
        LIMIT 1
      ) ;

If (vendor_id, created) is not UNIQUE and/or you want just one row of the duplicates, change the joining condition to:

--  the query as it is
  JOIN files AS f
  ON  f.id =
      ( SELECT fi.id 
        FROM files AS fi
--  the query as it is
  • Did not knew about greatest-n-per-group, thanks!
    – powtac
    Oct 13, 2016 at 17:19
  • This seems not to work. :-/ It runs, but I stopped it after certain amount of time...
    – powtac
    Oct 13, 2016 at 17:47
  • When I add a LIMIT 10 at the end I get 10 redundant results. It seems that the JOIN is too expensive in combination with the subquery that returns the created. (When I hard set f.created = 2016 it's very fast but useless. I think the JOIN has to be reduced by GROUP BY but don't know where.
    – powtac
    Oct 13, 2016 at 18:11
  • The table contains more (not redundant) data in additional columns. Thank you for your help and inputs. I did not (yet) add the tripple index, but I clearly see what you mean. The limit was a was for me to see if this works at all. I don't understand the ON f.id = .... Should that replace the SELECT fi.created subquery but still has ORDER BY fi.created DESC in it?
    – powtac
    Oct 13, 2016 at 18:47
  • It's some GB. But "only" 50+ vendor ids.
    – powtac
    Oct 13, 2016 at 19:08

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