I have these two tables:

user_profile_id_int int primary key 
user_profile_id varchar

user_profile_id_int int key
user_profile_id varchar

both fields in user_profile are ok but I don't have the user_profile_id_int from user_activity and I want to update it using the map I have in user_profile. I wrote a query like this:

update user_activity a
set user_profile_id_int =
(select user_profile_id_int from user_profile b
where a.user_profile_id = b.user_profile_id);

It was running on a really strong server for 1 day and I stopped it. But to record has been updated.

So 2 questions here:

  1. Is there a better and faster way to do this?
  2. Is this way ok?

2 Answers 2


Answer to question 1

This should do it for you

UPDATE user_activity a
INNER JOIN user_profile b 
USING (user_profile_id)
SET a.user_profile_id_int = b.user_profile_id_int;

This will work in MySQL. If you are not used to that JOIN syntax, do this:

UPDATE user_activity a
INNER JOIN user_profile b 
ON a.user_profile_id = b.user_profile_id
SET a.user_profile_id_int = b.user_profile_id_int;

Both should work.

Answer to question 2

Your query, in theory, works. However, look at what it is doing:

A table scan on user_activity, an indexed lookup of the user_profile_id_int using the PRIMARY KEY of user_profile, and an in-place update of the current row in user_activity.

The query is hitting two tables and two primary keys, back and forth, on a per-row basis. All steps slow each other down. Thus, you get a longer running query.


Adding a compound index on user_profile should speed things up:

ALTER TABLE user_profile ADD INDEX (user_profile_id,user_profile_id_int);
  • Thanx man, but how is this one better?
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:20
  • I get error with the second one: UPDATE user_activity ac INNER user_profile pr ON ac.user_profile1_id = pr.user_profile_id SET ac.user_profile1_id_int = pr.user_profile_id_int;
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:27
  • I forgot the word JOIN after the word INNER. I just updated it. Try Again !!! Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:30
  • Thanx, I ran the query. I will post the result ;)
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:33
  • WOW ! I don't believe it ! 33 min 18 sec !!!! Thanx man ! Best DBA ever !
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 21:05

I think you can try adding LIMIT to your update (and modify a bit WHERE to filter out already changed records). If you do, for instance, LIMIT 100, it won't take 1 day. Surely, if you want to change all the records, you will have to write a script that executes UPDATE until number of updated rows is 0, but it won't block the whole table.

  • Thanx, But you know, I want to do this update and learn more about the queries. Because in the future I have to work with large datasets so I think its important for me to understand more about these.
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:31
  • Some DML statements will take long(or comparatively long). If you update all records in 100GB table, you shouldn't expect it to happen in 1 second. In your case having an index on 2 user_profile fields (user_profile.user_profile_id, user_profile.user_profile_id_int) may improve your update query performance , but creating such an index may also take long time.
    – a1ex07
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 20:38
  • I did the indexing before and it took long time. But the join solution which RolandoMySQLDBA said is great. It was done in 30 mins !
    – AliBZ
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 21:11

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