As per MySql documentation link:


Handler_read_key - The number of requests to read a row based on a key. If this value is high, it is a good indication that your tables are properly indexed for your queries.

Can someone please explain / simplify / elaborate this definition.


1 Answer 1


A value of thousands per second is pretty normal. (Manually compute Handler_read_key / Uptime.)

Do the following to get a better feel for what it, and its siblings, are about:

FLUSH STATUS;  -- resets the Handler counters (and a few other things)

You will see read_key for "point queries" and for "range queries", possibly one each. You will also see a larger value for a "range query" in read_next.

Handler_write% values indicate that a temp table needed to be built and reread -- such as for GROUP BY and/or ORDER BY.

I find the Handler values to be handy in comparing two queries -- bigger numbers is a good indication of a less-well optimized query.

If you like, present us with a small number of SELECTs, together with SHOW CREATE TABLE and EXPLAIN SELECT and the Handler% values. We can go into more details 'by example'.


I think read_key is bumped by one in these cases:

  • Reaching into a table, either for a specific row, or to start a range scan.
  • At least once per table in a query with multiple tables due to JOIN or subqueries.
  • Once per row in a "nested loop join". This is the usual case for a simple JOIN two tables. It scans the first table (one Handler_read_key, many Handler_read_next) and reaches into the next table repeatedly (many Handler_read_key)

Think of it this way: Most reads from a table work in 1 or 2 steps:

  • Use a "key" to find the row (or the first row of a range) --> Handler_read_key bumped by 1.
  • If multiple rows needed, then get the "next" row --> Handler_read_next bumped by 1 per extra row. If using something like ORDER BY .. DESC, then bump Handler_next_prev.
  • Can we say, whenever there is increase in handler_read_next value, there would be increase in handler_read_key? Under which condition, increase in handler_read_key would be more than 1 for a single query? google doc for sample queries: docs.google.com/document/d/… Apr 23, 2019 at 17:01
  • @vaibhavgupta - see if what I added clarifies it.
    – Rick James
    Apr 23, 2019 at 19:28

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