I'm using mariadb.

I have a single table that keeps track of video_count and image_count for a few different sites. I.e.

 type        | enum('SITE1','SITE2','SITE3')                                
 video_count | int(11)                                                
 image_count | int(11) 

video_count will exist for ALL sites but image_count only exists for SITE3. Also, SITE3 will be a minority of rows.

So does it make sense to arrange the data this way on one table? I'd like to query ALL rows...but is it a problem if it's redundant and expensive knowing that 90% of my rows will have 0 for image_count?

It'd be perfect if I could do something like SELECT * from TABLE BUT DON't GET video_count WHERE type != 'SITE3'"

Is that even a possible query in SQL? Or does it now make sense to create separate tables for 'SITE1...SITEN'? Ty!

  • 1
    You seem to be engaging in premature optimisation. The overhead of maintaining and having to query multiple tables will be worse.
    – mustaccio
    May 27 at 19:49
  • Yeah, I'd like to avoid multiple tables. So seems like it's not much to worry about? But say for example I'm getting a ton of unnecessary image_counts..will this lead to scalability issue...(seeing as it's redundant knowing they'll always be 0) May 27 at 19:52
  • They don't usually measure data volume and transaction performance in tons, so I don't know how much that is. However, speaking about scalability, at the scale this "issue" starts to move the performance needle, you'll be worried about other, more important things.
    – mustaccio
    May 27 at 19:57
  • 1
  • 1
    Is type the PRIMARY KEY??
    – Rick James
    May 28 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


I recommend storing NULL in the image_count column on rows where it is inapplicable because the type doesn't need it. NULL is different from an integer 0.

InnoDB doesn't store a value in the row for a NULL. So it's pretty low overhead to leave the column NULL on the rows that don't need it. There's a bit stored in the row header for each nullable column, but that will be needed whether you store a value or not.

10k rows is small for an InnoDB table. I wouldn't worry about it unless you need to run this database on a Raspberry Pi or similarly compact platform.

SQL does not have any syntax for SELECT * except-the-columns-I-don't-want. If you use SELECT *, that means all the columns, including those that are NULL. If you want a subset of columns, you have to name all of the ones you want.

  • I MODIFIED the COLUMN to DEFAULT to NULL, ty May 28 at 18:14
  • Count of 0 is not the same as NULL (as you yourself say), so you can't substitute one for the other. The count of 0 reflects the fact that no images exist; the NULL count indicates that we don't know if images exist or not.
    – mustaccio
    May 28 at 19:42
  • @mustaccio, Yep, that's correct. NULL is also used when the datum is inapplicable. I understood the OP's situation to be that the image count is not relevant to SITE3. May 28 at 20:35

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