I'm the tech lead of a Social Media SAAS, where we're currently experiencing a big increase in data amount we're storing in our mySQL-database.

We're having a single MySQL db, and besides many really small tables, we have two tables with approx 500k-1.5m rows.

Currently, when performing DDL queries (adding new columns to these tables), we have to deal with quite a long execution time (around 4-5 mins).

I started to search for online schema migration tips and found the following:

Although these tactics are worth investigating, I started to feel unconfortable at all: I don't think, that tables with such a low number of rows have to use such advanced methods. (What about really huge tables then?)

So I was wondering, if anyone of you have tips regarding the mysql.cnf itself, or other performance tips for the ddl queries?

  • I encourage you to read Aaron Brown's answer to the "mysql change schema on the fly" that you provided. Creating a second MySQL instance as a replica of your production environment can offer the flexibility to make a number of major changes (schema changes, MySQL configuration changes, even major version upgrades) with minimal downtime. Feb 26, 2014 at 6:03
  • Are the tables InnoDB? And, are you using MySQL 5.5? Feb 26, 2014 at 12:05
  • @Michael-sqlbot: yes, all tables are innoDB and we're using MySQL 5.5 Feb 26, 2014 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


I think that Percona's pt-online-schema-change might be a better solution for you as it can do an ALTER with very little downtime. It does, however, require adding a TRIGGER to the table.

Runnig DDL on your table will lead you into rebuilding your table, mysql is a row based engine so you will suffer the index rebuild this can be quite expensive depending on your engine, table complexity is factor as well.

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