I have a managed MySQL (5.7.19) instance on AWS. In general, things work pretty well. I'm consistently around 4% CPU usage, and well below my IOPS limits for the burstable instance (t2.micro). However, if I make a query that does not use an index on a table that has likely fallen out of RAM and is on disk, MySQL will 'lock up' for a minute or so. Read IOPS do increase, but usually not enough to even dip into my credit pool. CPU will get stuck at 100% until the query completes. Other connections from the normally running service will queue up (I'll start to see 60+ connections), and many will eventually time out.

Here's an example query that locked up the database for almost a minute:

    FROM  mydb.PurchaseDatabase
    WHERE  Time between '2018-11-20 00:00:00' AND '2018-11-23 00:00:00'
      and  ItemStatus=0
      and  ItemID="exampleitem";

Here's the RDS dashboard metrics when I made this query:

RDS dashboard metrics

If I make the query a second time it completes almost instantly (it is now likely in RAM from the recent query against the same table). Similar queries are also fast again (0.173 seconds, for example). I enabled slow query logging as well as error logging and made the query a day later with the same 30 second delay (table had been paged or whatever out of RAM). However, nothing was written to the slow query table. I checked the error logs, and I can see messages like this when I make the slow queries:

2018-11-28T06:21:05.498947Z 0 [Note] InnoDB: page_cleaner: 1000ms intended loop took 37072ms. The settings might not be optimal. (flushed=4 and evicted=0, during the time.)

I think this might just be another symptom of the underlying problem, which is that my instance is having trouble reading/writing from disk. I am using SSD backed storage and my burst balance on the EBS volume isn't affected by these slow queries. I have lots of credits before and after the queries.

I then, foolishly, decided to try to help the database by clearing out old records. I performed a delete like so:

DELETE FROM mydb.PurchaseDatabase
    WHERE Time between '2018-01-01 00:00:00'
      and '2018-07-31 00:00:00'
      and ItemStatus=0;

Which affected around 50k of the 190k table rows. This query 'returned' to MySQL Workbench in 0.505 seconds, but actually took the database down for almost 8 minutes! During this time, the RDS instance couldn't even write to logs or Cloudwatch.

Cloudwatch fails to get metrics during slow query

It took 8 minutes to free up around 6MB worth of database rows (CPU is pegged at 100% during this time). I am well below CPU usage in general, and the IOPS for my instance size. Is t2.micro really not capable of handling these type of workload? Is there anything I can do to get a better handle on what is going on? I tried writing out performance logs as well, but they actually failed to write during this 8 minute downtime, so I'm never really able to look at the problem.

After this downtime, the error log contained this warning:

2018-11-28T18:35:59.497627Z 0 [Warning] InnoDB: A long semaphore wait: --Thread 47281889883904 has waited at srv0srv.cc line 1982 for 250.00 seconds the semaphore: X-lock on RW-latch at 0x2b00a8fcf258 created in file dict0dict.cc line 1184 a writer (thread id 47281896187648) has reserved it in mode exclusive number of readers 0, waiters flag 1, lock_word: 0 Last time read locked in file row0purge.cc line 862 Last time write locked in file /local/mysql-5.7.19.R1/storage/innobase/dict/dict0stats.cc line 2375

Note: This takes down the entire database, not just the PurchaseDatabase table. The connection queue fills up with unserviced queries until eventually the queue is full, and no further connections are accepted. Old connections eventually time out.

I'm guessing that this is some sort of EBS/RDS interaction, but I just can't see how you are supposed to be able to burst to 3000 IOPS but I can't even manage a 30 IOP read burst. Any suggestions would be very appreciated, as I'm worried that these issues might start showing up during normal workload, since I don't understand the root cause.

In this example, PurchaseDatabase is created with the following statement.

CREATE TABLE PurchaseDatabase (
    TitleID VARCHAR(127), 
    TransactionID BIGINT UNSIGNED, 
    Time DATETIME, 
    TimeCreated DATETIME, 
    ItemID VARCHAR(127), 
    Quantity INT UNSIGNED, 
    Price INT UNSIGNED, 
    Vat INT, 

In case it is helpful, here is my performance dashboard for this database. This represents approximately 50% of expected peak load (we see a strong 24 hour day/night cycle as users login to play in certain timezones).

MySQL Workbench Performance Dashboard

Also note, this issue isn't caused by the PurchaseDatabase table only. Any query against any of my tables can cause this same issue.

Looking through logs, I can see the CPU is being consumed by the system. So mysqld likely isn't getting any CPU time to service requests that might have been fine to have served from the buffer pool in memory. It just didn't have a chance:

mysqld cpuUsedPc: 0.22
OS processes cpuUsedPc: 507.87
RDS processes cpuUsedPc: 2.03

The OS seems to be caught up in reading/writing to EBS. Here's the disk IO during that time:

"diskIO": [ 
      "writeKbPS": 807.33, 
      "readIOsPS": 25.92, 
      "await": 15.95, 
      "readKbPS": 105.8, 
      "rrqmPS": 0, 
      "util": 17.75, 
      "avgQueueLen": 63.77, 
      "tps": 66.62, 
      "readKb": 6348, 
      "device": "rdsdev", 
      "writeKb": 48440, 
      "avgReqSz": 13.71, 
      "wrqmPS": 0, 
      "writeIOsPS": 40.7 

So even though I am not hitting the burst limit of my IOPS, I still seem to be IO bound. Does this look right?

"avgQueueLen": 63.77, - Ouch!

3 Answers 3


It was the swap! I ended up replicating the database on to the same hardware, and wrote some scripts to emulate live traffic on the database. I also ran some big queries to help fill up the buffer pool and then ensured that my replica database approximately matched the metrics of my production database. I then tried running large queries against it and it locked up, even with indexes applied. I could reproduce the issue without taking down the production service, so now I can break things as much as I want.

I noticed that running the same large queries earlier in the life of the replica database hadn't caused an issue, and tracked down the point where the locks ups begin. It happens almost immediately after the buffer pool gets large enough to push some data (OS, or otherwise) to swap on the t2.micro instance. Here's an image from Cloudwatch of the swap growing after the freeable memory drops below ~50MB or so:

Image of swap being utilized as freeable memory drops.

Any large queries (with or without an index) start to lock up the database after the red circle. You can see the aggregate 5 minute CPU usage when I locked up the database for almost a minute performing a DELETE.

With this theory in mind, I tried two solutions:

1) I changed the value of innodb_buffer_pool_size to 375M (instead of its default AWS value of 3/4 the instance RAM size). This reduces the maximum size of the buffer pool and ensures that the database memory footprint won't grow large enough to push the OS/etc into swap. This worked!

2) I tried running the database on a larger instance (2GiB of RAM). This also worked!

Both of these solutions work, and the bonus with (1) is that I don't have to spend any extra money. I'm working on tuning the value of innodb_buffer_pool_size so that it is as large as possible without causing swap. I ran the same DELETE query in 1.2s and the database continued responding. The below screenshot wasn't even possible with the production database since the database would stop responding during these long queries, so the dashboard would never update and eventually lose connection.

Screenshot of the MySQL dashboard while running a DELETE query

  • Complain to AWS -- Swapping is terrible for MySQL. Something is tuned too high.
    – Rick James
    Mar 4, 2019 at 0:03

For starters, have better indexes. For the SELECT:

INDEX(ItemID, ItemStatus,   -- in either order
      `Time`)               -- then the range

For the DELETE:

INDEX(ItemStatus, `Time`)   -- in this order

(No, there is no single index that is optimal for both queries.)

This should help with performance (CPU, IOPS, "lock up") and may (or may not) help with other issues, such as the page_cleaners.

About how many rows in the table? (140K now?) In the resultset from that SELECT?


innodb_file_per_table is a disk layout issue; not relevant. The main tunable is the cache in RAM: innodb_buffer_pool_size. But, with only 1GB of RAM, that cache must be quite small. This would explain why a 190K-row table would need IOPs.

Here's the scenario... Queries are only performed in the buffer_pool. That is, to read (or write or delete) a row, the 16KB block it lives in (or will live in) is first brought into the buffer_pool. The table mentioned might be about 50MB. I would guess (without knowing) that the buffer_pool_size is set for about 100MB. The SELECT and DELETE under discussion needed a full table scan, hence 50MB would be pulled into the buffer_pool, pushing out blocks of other table(s) if necessary. And vice versa when something big happens with those tables.

Plan A: Add the recommended indexes. There may be other ways to shrink the disk footprint to improve the cachability. For example, BIGINT is 8 bytes; INT is only 4 bytes, but has a limit of a few billion. But even MEDIUMINT (3 bytes, a few million), etc, may suffice.

Plan B: Get a bigger RDS setup.


Rate Per Second=RPS Suggestions to consider for your AWS Performance group

read_rnd_buffer_size=256K  # from 512K reduce RAM/connect & handler_read_rnd_next RPS of 68
innodb_avg_flushing_loops=5  # from 30 to reduce innodb_buffer_pool_pages_dirty of 2,493
innodb_io_capacity=1900  # from 200 to use more of SSD IOPS capacity
thread_cache_size=100  # from 8 to reduce threads_created of 1,082
max_connections=96  # from 66 to reduce connection_errors_max_connections of 1678
innodb_log_buffer_size=24M  # from 8M to support ~8 min logging
innodb_change_buffer_max_size=15  # from 25 percent since only 3% used

ALL are Dynamic variables, will not require stop/start of services.

For addditional suggestions, view my profile, Network profile for contact information. There are MANY more tuning opportunities, even after you get your table KEYs managed to improve performance.

  • 1
    I am using Pomelo MySQL Connector for asp.net core (github.com/PomeloFoundation/Pomelo.EntityFrameworkCore.MySql). I can see a lot of dropped connections after these 'lock ups'. Could those be the com_flush events?
    – Giawa
    Dec 13, 2018 at 19:14
  • This is the code that is used to connect to the database: services.AddDbContext<BfDatabaseContext>(opt => opt.UseMySql(Settings.Instance.SQLConnectionString));
    – Giawa
    Dec 13, 2018 at 19:17
  • @Giawa Have ALL my Dec 1 suggestions been applied? In the Pomelo information, I do not see anything resembling CONNECT to MySQL. What I see is Framework documentation. Dec 13, 2018 at 21:12

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