This query below will never complete, since it always looks at the first 100,000 (user_type, user_ids). How can I write this to delete 100,000 records from the table with the FK reference (Product) to the UserTable table? In other words, the limit should happen after the join, but preferably in an efficient way? UserTable has an index on (user_type, user_id) and (shard_key) and Product has an index on (user_type, user_id)

It doesn't necessarily have to be exactly 100,000 - for example, each user could own up to 100 products and that would be fine if the records deleted were (avg. # of products * 100,000)

    SELECT user_type, user_id
    FROM UserTable
    WHERE MOD(shard_key,20) != 7
    LIMIT 100000
) t
JOIN Product p ON (
    t.user_type = p.user_type AND t.user_id = p.user_id

EDIT: This is MySQL 5.6

  • what RDBMS (and version) are you writing this for? without RDBMS info we don't know what SQL dialect you're using; have you tried something like delete from UserTable where ... and exists(select 1 from Product) limit 100000?
    – markp-fuso
    Sep 29, 2018 at 17:51
  • Edited the original post with this info
    – Arthur M
    Sep 29, 2018 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


This workaround is OK for my case but isn't great, since it needs to scan the entire index of the User table, so wouldn't be very portable. The user:product ratio can be up to 1:1000, and it's feasible to scan the User table first using a covering index before doing the JOIN.

FROM Product f 
    SELECT t.* FROM (
        SELECT DISTINCT user_type, user_id
        FROM UserTable
        WHERE MOD(shard_key,20) != 7
        ) p
        JOIN Product t ON (
            t.user_type = p.user_type 
            t.user_id = p.user_id
        ) LIMIT 10 
    ) x 
x.user_type = f.user_type 
x.user = f.user_id;

My takeaway is: If you can reasonably scan the entire primary key table quickly using indexes, and join with the foreign key table afterwards (ideally also using indexes), that is a solution that ensures you will be able to find ALL foreign key references if you want to batch DELETE in situations where many foreign keys reference each primary key.In this case, the User table was ~1GB and the Product table ~350GB

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