Chapter 10. Data Types

Table of Contents

10.1. Data Type Overview
10.1.1. Overview of Numeric Types
10.1.2. Overview of Date and Time Types
10.1.3. Overview of String Types
10.1.4. Data Type Default Values
10.2. Numeric Types
10.3. Date and Time Types
10.3.1. The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP Types
10.3.2. The TIME Type
10.3.3. The YEAR Type
10.3.4. Year 2000 Issues and Date Types
10.4. String Types
10.4.1. The CHAR and VARCHAR Types
10.4.2. The BINARY and VARBINARY Types
10.4.3. The BLOB and TEXT Types
10.4.4. The ENUM Type
10.4.5. The SET Type
10.5. Data Type Storage Requirements
10.6. Choosing the Right Type for a Column
10.7. Using Data Types from Other Database Engines

MySQL supports a number of data types in several categories: numeric types, date and time types, and string (character) types. This chapter first gives an overview of these data types, and then provides a more detailed description of the properties of the types in each category, and a summary of the data type storage requirements. The initial overview is intentionally brief. The more detailed descriptions later in the chapter should be consulted for additional information about particular data types, such as the allowable formats in which you can specify values.

MySQL 4.1 and up also supports extensions for handing spatial data. Chapter 16, Spatial Extensions, provides information about these data types.

Data type descriptions use these conventions:

10.1. Data Type Overview

10.1.1. Overview of Numeric Types

A summary of the numeric data types follows. For additional information about properties of the numeric types, see Section 10.2, “Numeric Types”. Storage requirements are given in Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

M indicates the maximum display width for integer types. The maximum legal display width is 255. Display width is unrelated to the range of values a type can contain, as described in Section 10.2, “Numeric Types”. For floating-point and fixed-point types, M is the total number of digits that can be stored.

If you specify ZEROFILL for a numeric column, MySQL automatically adds the UNSIGNED attribute to the column.

Numeric data types that allow the UNSIGNED attribute also allow SIGNED. However, these data types are signed by default, so the SIGNED attribute has no effect.

As of MySQL 4.1, SERIAL is an alias for BIGINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT UNIQUE.

SERIAL DEFAULT VALUE in the definition of an integer column is an alias for NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT UNIQUE.

Warning

When you use subtraction between integer values where one is of type UNSIGNED, the result is unsigned unless the NO_UNSIGNED_SUBTRACTION SQL mode is enabled. See Section 11.9, “Cast Functions and Operators”.

  • BIT

    In versions of MySQL up to and lincluding 4.1, BIT is a synonym for TINYINT(1).

  • TINYINT[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A very small integer. The signed range is -128 to 127. The unsigned range is 0 to 255.

  • BOOL, BOOLEAN

    These types are synonyms for TINYINT(1). The synonym BOOLEAN was added in MySQL 4.1.0. A value of zero is considered false. Nonzero values are considered true:

    mysql> SELECT IF(0, 'true', 'false');
    +------------------------+
    | IF(0, 'true', 'false') |
    +------------------------+
    | false                  |
    +------------------------+
    
    mysql> SELECT IF(1, 'true', 'false');
    +------------------------+
    | IF(1, 'true', 'false') |
    +------------------------+
    | true                   |
    +------------------------+
    
    mysql> SELECT IF(2, 'true', 'false');
    +------------------------+
    | IF(2, 'true', 'false') |
    +------------------------+
    | true                   |
    +------------------------+
    

    However, the values TRUE and FALSE are merely aliases for 1 and 0, respectively, as shown here:

    mysql> SELECT IF(0 = FALSE, 'true', 'false');
    +--------------------------------+
    | IF(0 = FALSE, 'true', 'false') |
    +--------------------------------+
    | true                           |
    +--------------------------------+
    
    mysql> SELECT IF(1 = TRUE, 'true', 'false');
    +-------------------------------+
    | IF(1 = TRUE, 'true', 'false') |
    +-------------------------------+
    | true                          |
    +-------------------------------+
    
    mysql> SELECT IF(2 = TRUE, 'true', 'false');
    +-------------------------------+
    | IF(2 = TRUE, 'true', 'false') |
    +-------------------------------+
    | false                         |
    +-------------------------------+
    
    mysql> SELECT IF(2 = FALSE, 'true', 'false');
    +--------------------------------+
    | IF(2 = FALSE, 'true', 'false') |
    +--------------------------------+
    | false                          |
    +--------------------------------+
    

    The last two statements display the results shown because 2 is equal to neither 1 nor 0.

    We intend to implement full boolean type handling, in accordance with standard SQL, in a future MySQL release.

  • SMALLINT[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A small integer. The signed range is -32768 to 32767. The unsigned range is 0 to 65535.

  • MEDIUMINT[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A medium-sized integer. The signed range is -8388608 to 8388607. The unsigned range is 0 to 16777215.

  • INT[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A normal-size integer. The signed range is -2147483648 to 2147483647. The unsigned range is 0 to 4294967295.

  • INTEGER[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    This type is a synonym for INT.

  • BIGINT[(M)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A large integer. The signed range is -9223372036854775808 to 9223372036854775807. The unsigned range is 0 to 18446744073709551615.

    As of MySQL 4.1, SERIAL is an alias for BIGINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT UNIQUE.

    Some things you should be aware of with respect to BIGINT columns:

    • All arithmetic is done using signed BIGINT or DOUBLE values, so you should not use unsigned big integers larger than 9223372036854775807 (63 bits) except with bit functions! If you do that, some of the last digits in the result may be wrong because of rounding errors when converting a BIGINT value to a DOUBLE.

      MySQL 4.0 can handle BIGINT in the following cases:

      • When using integers to store large unsigned values in a BIGINT column.

      • In MIN(col_name) or MAX(col_name), where col_name refers to a BIGINT column.

      • When using operators (+, -, *, and so on) where both operands are integers.

    • You can always store an exact integer value in a BIGINT column by storing it using a string. In this case, MySQL performs a string-to-number conversion that involves no intermediate double-precision representation.

    • The -, +, and * operators use BIGINT arithmetic when both operands are integer values. This means that if you multiply two big integers (or results from functions that return integers), you may get unexpected results when the result is larger than 9223372036854775807.

  • FLOAT[(M,D)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A small (single-precision) floating-point number. Allowable values are -3.402823466E+38 to -1.175494351E-38, 0, and 1.175494351E-38 to 3.402823466E+38. These are the theoretical limits, based on the IEEE standard. The actual range might be slightly smaller depending on your hardware or operating system.

    M is the total number of digits and D is the number of digits following the decimal point. If M and D are omitted, values are stored to the limits allowed by the hardware. A single-precision floating-point number is accurate to approximately 7 decimal places.

    UNSIGNED, if specified, disallows negative values.

    Using FLOAT might give you some unexpected problems because all calculations in MySQL are done with double precision. See Section A.1.5.7, “Solving Problems with No Matching Rows”.

  • DOUBLE[(M,D)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A normal-size (double-precision) floating-point number. Allowable values are -1.7976931348623157E+308 to -2.2250738585072014E-308, 0, and 2.2250738585072014E-308 to 1.7976931348623157E+308. These are the theoretical limits, based on the IEEE standard. The actual range might be slightly smaller depending on your hardware or operating system.

    M is the total number of digits and D is the number of digits following the decimal point. If M and D are omitted, values are stored to the limits allowed by the hardware. A double-precision floating-point number is accurate to approximately 15 decimal places.

    UNSIGNED, if specified, disallows negative values.

  • DOUBLE PRECISION[(M,D)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL], REAL[(M,D)] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    These types are synonyms for DOUBLE. Exception: If the REAL_AS_FLOAT SQL mode is enabled, REAL is a synonym for FLOAT rather than DOUBLE.

  • FLOAT(p) [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    A floating-point number. p represents the precision in bits, but MySQL uses this value only to determine whether to use FLOAT or DOUBLE for the resulting data type. If p is from 0 to 24, the data type becomes FLOAT with no M or D values. If p is from 25 to 53, the data type becomes DOUBLE with no M or D values. The range of the resulting column is the same as for the single-precision FLOAT or double-precision DOUBLE data types described earlier in this section.

    As of MySQL 3.23, this data type holds true floating-point values. In earlier MySQL versions, FLOAT(p) always has two decimals.

    FLOAT(p) syntax is provided for ODBC compatibility.

  • DECIMAL[(M[,D])] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    An unpacked fixed-point number. Behaves like a CHAR column; “unpacked” means the number is stored as a string, using one character for each digit of the value. M is the total number of digits and D is the number of digits after the decimal point. The decimal point and (for negative numbers) the “-” sign are not counted in M, although space for them is reserved. If D is 0, values have no decimal point or fractional part. The maximum range of DECIMAL values is the same as for DOUBLE, but the actual range for a given DECIMAL column may be constrained by the choice of M and D. If D is omitted, the default is 0. If M is omitted, the default is 10.

    UNSIGNED, if specified, disallows negative values.

    Note

    Before MySQL 3.23, the value of M must be large enough to include the space needed for the sign and the decimal point characters.

  • DEC[(M[,D])] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL], NUMERIC[(M[,D])] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL], FIXED[(M[,D])] [UNSIGNED] [ZEROFILL]

    These types are synonyms for DECIMAL. The FIXED synonym was added in MySQL 4.1.0 for compatibility with other database systems.

10.1.2. Overview of Date and Time Types

A summary of the temporal data types follows. For additional information about properties of the temporal types, see Section 10.3, “Date and Time Types”. Storage requirements are given in Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”. Functions that operate on temporal values are described at Section 11.6, “Date and Time Functions”.

For the DATETIME and DATE range descriptions, “supported” means that although earlier values might work, there is no guarantee.

  • DATE

    A date. The supported range is '1000-01-01' to '9999-12-31'. MySQL displays DATE values in 'YYYY-MM-DD' format, but allows assignment of values to DATE columns using either strings or numbers.

  • DATETIME

    A date and time combination. The supported range is '1000-01-01 00:00:00' to '9999-12-31 23:59:59'. MySQL displays DATETIME values in 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format, but allows assignment of values to DATETIME columns using either strings or numbers.

  • TIMESTAMP[(M)]

    A timestamp. The range is '1970-01-01 00:00:01' UTC to '2038-01-09 03:14:07' UTC. TIMESTAMP values are stored as the number of seconds since the epoch ('1970-01-01 00:00:00' UTC). A TIMESTAMP cannot represent the value '1970-01-01 00:00:00' because that is equivalent to 0 seconds from the epoch and the value 0 is reserved for representing '0000-00-00 00:00:00', the “zeroTIMESTAMP value.

    A TIMESTAMP column is useful for recording the date and time of an INSERT or UPDATE operation. By default, the first TIMESTAMP column in a table is automatically set to the date and time of the most recent operation if you do not assign it a value yourself. You can also set any TIMESTAMP column to the current date and time by assigning it a NULL value. Variations on automatic initialization and update properties are described in Section 10.3.1.2, “TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1”.

    In MySQL 4.1, TIMESTAMP is returned as a string with the format 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS'. Display widths (used as described in the following paragraphs) are no longer supported; the display width is fixed at 19 characters. To obtain the value as a number, you should add +0 to the timestamp column.

    In MySQL 4.0 and earlier, TIMESTAMP values are displayed in YYYYMMDDHHMMSS, YYMMDDHHMMSS, YYYYMMDD, or YYMMDD format, depending on whether M is 14 (or missing), 12, 8, or 6, but allows you to assign values to TIMESTAMP columns using either strings or numbers. The M argument affects only how a TIMESTAMP column is displayed, not storage. Its values always are stored using four bytes each. From MySQL 4.0.12, the --new option can be used to make the server behave as in MySQL 4.1.

    Note that TIMESTAMP(M) columns where M is 8 or 14 are reported to be numbers, whereas other TIMESTAMP(M) columns are reported to be strings. This is just to ensure that you can reliably dump and restore the table with these types.

    Note

    The behavior of TIMESTAMP columns changed considerably in MySQL 4.1. For complete information on the differences with regard to this data type in MySQL 4.1 and later versions (as opposed to MySQL 4.0 and earlier versions), be sure to see Section 10.3.1.1, “TIMESTAMP Properties Prior to MySQL 4.1”, and Section 10.3.1.2, “TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1”.

  • TIME

    A time. The range is '-838:59:59' to '838:59:59'. MySQL displays TIME values in 'HH:MM:SS' format, but allows assignment of values to TIME columns using either strings or numbers.

  • YEAR[(2|4)]

    A year in two-digit or four-digit format. The default is four-digit format. In four-digit format, the allowable values are 1901 to 2155, and 0000. In two-digit format, the allowable values are 70 to 69, representing years from 1970 to 2069. MySQL displays YEAR values in YYYY format, but allows you to assign values to YEAR columns using either strings or numbers. The YEAR type is unavailable prior to MySQL 3.22.

The SUM() and AVG() aggregate functions do not work with temporal values. (They convert the values to numbers, which loses the part after the first nonnumeric character.) To work around this problem, you can convert to numeric units, perform the aggregate operation, and convert back to a temporal value. Examples:

SELECT SEC_TO_TIME(SUM(TIME_TO_SEC(time_col))) FROM tbl_name;
SELECT FROM_DAYS(SUM(TO_DAYS(date_col))) FROM tbl_name;

10.1.3. Overview of String Types

A summary of the string data types follows. For additional information about properties of the string types, see Section 10.4, “String Types”. Storage requirements are given in Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

In some cases, MySQL may change a string column to a type different from that given in a CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE statement. See Section 12.1.5.1, “Silent Column Specification Changes”.

In MySQL 4.1 and up, string data types include some features that you may not have encountered in working with versions of MySQL prior to 4.1:

  • As of version 4.1, MySQL interprets length specifications in character column definitions in character units. (Before MySQL 4.1, column lengths were interpreted in bytes.) This applies to CHAR, VARCHAR, and the TEXT types.

  • Column definitions for many string data types can include attributes that specify the character set or collation of the column. These attributes apply to the CHAR, VARCHAR, the TEXT types, ENUM, and SET data types:

    • The CHARACTER SET attribute specifies the character set, and the COLLATE attribute specifies a collation for the character set. For example:

      CREATE TABLE t
      (
          c1 VARCHAR(20) CHARACTER SET utf8,
          c2 TEXT CHARACTER SET latin1 COLLATE latin1_general_cs
      );
      

      This table definition creates a column named c1 that has a character set of utf8 with the default collation for that character set, and a column named c2 that has a character set of latin1 and a case-sensitive collation.

      The rules for assigning the character set and collation when either or both of the CHARACTER SET and COLLATE attributes are missing are described in Section 9.1.3.4, “Column Character Set and Collation”.

      CHARSET is a synonym for CHARACTER SET.

    • From MySQL 4.1.2 on, specifying the CHARACTER SET binary attribute for a character data type causes the column to be created as the corresponding binary data type: CHAR becomes BINARY, VARCHAR becomes VARBINARY, and TEXT becomes BLOB. For the ENUM and SET data types, this does not occur; they are created as declared. Suppose that you specify a table using this definition:

      CREATE TABLE t
      (
        c1 VARCHAR(10) CHARACTER SET binary,
        c2 TEXT CHARACTER SET binary,
        c3 ENUM('a','b','c') CHARACTER SET binary
      );
      

      The resulting table has this definition:

      CREATE TABLE t
      (
        c1 VARBINARY(10),
        c2 BLOB,
        c3 ENUM('a','b','c') CHARACTER SET binary
      );
      
    • From MySQL 4.1.0 on, the ASCII attribute is shorthand for CHARACTER SET latin1.

    • From MySQL 4.1.1 on, the UNICODE attribute is shorthand for CHARACTER SET ucs2.

    • As of MySQL 4.1.2, the BINARY attribute is shorthand for specifying the binary collation of the column character set. In this case, sorting and comparison are based on numeric character values. (Before MySQL 4.1.2, BINARY caused was disallowed for the TEXT types. For CHAR and VARCHAR, BINARY caused a column to store binary strings and sorting and comparison were based on numeric byte values. This is the same as using character values for single-byte character sets, but not for multi-byte character sets.)

  • Character column sorting and comparison are based on the character set assigned to the column. (Before MySQL 4.1, sorting and comparison were based on the collation of the server character set.) For the CHAR, VARCHAR, TEXT, ENUM, and SET data types, you can declare a column with a binary collation or the BINARY attribute to cause sorting and comparison to use the underlying character code values rather then a lexical ordering.

Section 9.1, “Character Set Support”, provides additional information about use of character sets in MySQL 4.1 and up.

  • [NATIONAL] CHAR[(M)] [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A fixed-length string that is always right-padded with spaces to the specified length when stored. M represents the column length in characters. The range of M is 0 to 255. (1 to 255 prior to MySQL 3.23). If M is omitted, the length is 1.

    Note

    Trailing spaces are removed when CHAR values are retrieved.

    In MySQL 4.1, a CHAR column with a length specification greater than 255 is converted to the smallest TEXT type that can hold values of the given length. For example, CHAR(500) is converted to TEXT, and CHAR(200000) is converted to MEDIUMTEXT. This is a compatibility feature. However, this conversion causes the column to become a variable-length column, and also affects trailing-space removal.

    CHAR is shorthand for CHARACTER. NATIONAL CHAR (or its equivalent short form, NCHAR) is the standard SQL way to define that a CHAR column should use some predefined character set. MySQL 4.1 and up uses utf8 as this predefined character set. Section 9.1.3.6, “National Character Set”.

    From MySQL 4.1.2 on, the CHAR BYTE data type is an alias for the BINARY data type. This is a compatibility feature.

    MySQL allows you to create a column of type CHAR(0). This is useful primarily when you have to be compliant with old applications that depend on the existence of a column but that do not actually use its value. CHAR(0) is also quite nice when you need a column that can take only two values: A column that is defined as CHAR(0) NULL occupies only one bit and can take only the values NULL and '' (the empty string).

  • [NATIONAL] VARCHAR(M) [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A variable-length string. M represents the maximum column length in characters. The range of M is 1 to 255 before MySQL 4.0.2, and 0 to 255 as of MySQL 4.0.2.

    MySQL stores VARCHAR values as a one-byte length prefix plus data. The length prefix indicates the number of bytes in the value.

    Note

    Trailing spaces are removed when VARCHAR values are stored. This differs from the standard SQL specification.

    In MySQL 4.1, a VARCHAR column with a length specification greater than 255 is converted to the smallest TEXT type that can hold values of the given length. For example, VARCHAR(500) is converted to TEXT, and VARCHAR(200000) is converted to MEDIUMTEXT. This is a compatibility feature. However, this conversion affects trailing-space removal.

    VARCHAR is shorthand for CHARACTER VARYING. NATIONAL VARCHAR is the standard SQL way to define that a VARCHAR column should use some predefined character set. MySQL 4.1 and up uses utf8 as this predefined character set. Section 9.1.3.6, “National Character Set”. As of MySQL 4.1.1, NVARCHAR is shorthand for NATIONAL VARCHAR.

  • BINARY(M)

    The BINARY type is similar to the CHAR type, but stores binary byte strings rather than nonbinary character strings. M represents the column length in bytes.

    This type was added in MySQL 4.1.2.

  • VARBINARY(M)

    The VARBINARY type is similar to the VARCHAR type, but stores binary byte strings rather than nonbinary character strings. M represents the maximum column length in bytes.

    This type was added in MySQL 4.1.2.

  • TINYBLOB

    A BLOB column with a maximum length of 255 (28 – 1) bytes. Each TINYBLOB value is stored using a one-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • TINYTEXT [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A TEXT column with a maximum length of 255 (28 – 1) characters. The effective maximum length is less if the value contains multi-byte characters. Each TINYTEXT value is stored using a one-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • BLOB[(M)]

    A BLOB column with a maximum length of 65,535 (216 – 1) bytes. Each BLOB value is stored using a two-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

    Beginning with MySQL 4.1, an optional length M can be given for this type. MySQL creates the column as the smallest BLOB type large enough to hold values M bytes long.

  • TEXT[(M)] [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A TEXT column with a maximum length of 65,535 (216 – 1) characters. The effective maximum length is less if the value contains multi-byte characters. Each TEXT value is stored using a two-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

    Beginning with MySQL 4.1, an optional length M can be given for this type. MySQL creates the column as the smallest TEXT type large enough to hold values M characters long.

  • MEDIUMBLOB

    A BLOB column with a maximum length of 16,777,215 (224 – 1) bytes. Each MEDIUMBLOB value is stored using a three-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • MEDIUMTEXT [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A TEXT column with a maximum length of 16,777,215 (224 – 1) characters. The effective maximum length is less if the value contains multi-byte characters. Each MEDIUMTEXT value is stored using a three-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • LONGBLOB

    A BLOB column with a maximum length of 4,294,967,295 or 4GB (232 – 1) bytes. Up to MySQL 3.23, the client/server protocol and MyISAM tables had a limit of 16MB per communication packet or table row. As of MySQL 4.0, the effective maximum length of LONGBLOB columns depends on the configured maximum packet size in the client/server protocol and available memory. Each LONGBLOB value is stored using a four-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • LONGTEXT [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A TEXT column with a maximum length of 4,294,967,295 or 4GB (232 – 1) characters. The effective maximum length is less if the value contains multi-byte characters. Up to MySQL 3.23, the client/server protocol and MyISAM tables had a limit of 16MB per communication packet or table row. As of MySQL 4.0, the effective maximum length of LONGTEXT columns depends on the configured maximum packet size in the client/server protocol and available memory. Each LONGTEXT value is stored using a four-byte length prefix that indicates the number of bytes in the value.

  • ENUM('value1','value2',...) [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    An enumeration. A string object that can have only one value, chosen from the list of values 'value1', 'value2', ..., NULL or the special '' error value. An ENUM column can have a maximum of 65,535 distinct values. ENUM values are represented internally as integers.

  • SET('value1','value2',...) [CHARACTER SET charset_name] [COLLATE collation_name]

    A set. A string object that can have zero or more values, each of which must be chosen from the list of values 'value1', 'value2', ... A SET column can have a maximum of 64 members. SET values are represented internally as integers.

10.1.4. Data Type Default Values

The DEFAULT value clause in a data type specification indicates a default value for a column. With one exception, the default value must be a constant; it cannot be a function or an expression. This means, for example, that you cannot set the default for a date column to be the value of a function such as NOW() or CURRENT_DATE. The exception is that you can specify CURRENT_TIMESTAMP as the default for a TIMESTAMP column as of MySQL 4.1.2. See Section 10.3.1.2, “TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1”.

If a column definition includes no explicit DEFAULT value, MySQL determines the default value as follows:

If the column can take NULL as a value, the column is defined with an explicit DEFAULT NULL clause.

If the column cannot take NULL as the value, MySQL defines the column with an explicit DEFAULT clause, using the implicit default value for the column data type. Implicit defaults are defined as follows:

  • For numeric types, the default is 0, with the exception that for integer or floating-point types declared with the AUTO_INCREMENT attribute, the default is the next value in the sequence.

  • For date and time types other than TIMESTAMP, the default is the appropriate “zero” value for the type. For the first TIMESTAMP column in a table, the default value is the current date and time. See Section 10.3, “Date and Time Types”.

  • For string types other than ENUM, the default value is the empty string. For ENUM, the default is the first enumeration value.

BLOB and TEXT columns cannot be assigned a default value.

For a given table, you can use the SHOW CREATE TABLE statement to see which columns have an explicit DEFAULT clause.

SERIAL DEFAULT VALUE in the definition of an integer column is an alias for NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT UNIQUE.

10.2. Numeric Types

MySQL supports all of the standard SQL numeric data types. These types include the exact numeric data types (INTEGER, SMALLINT, DECIMAL, and NUMERIC), as well as the approximate numeric data types (FLOAT, REAL, and DOUBLE PRECISION). The keyword INT is a synonym for INTEGER, and the keyword DEC is a synonym for DECIMAL. For numeric type storage requirements, see Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

The numeric types used for the results of calculations depends on the operations being performed and the numeric types of the operands; for more information, see Section 11.5.1, “Arithmetic Operators”.

As an extension to the SQL standard, MySQL also supports the integer types TINYINT, MEDIUMINT, and BIGINT. The following table shows the required storage and range for each of the integer types.

TypeBytesMinimum ValueMaximum Value
  (Signed/Unsigned)(Signed/Unsigned)
TINYINT1-128127
  0255
SMALLINT2-3276832767
  065535
MEDIUMINT3-83886088388607
  016777215
INT4-21474836482147483647
  04294967295
BIGINT8-92233720368547758089223372036854775807
  018446744073709551615

Another extension is supported by MySQL for optionally specifying the display width of integer data types in parentheses following the base keyword for the type (for example, INT(4)). This optional display width may be used by applications to display integer values having a width less than the width specified for the column by left-padding them with spaces. (That is, this width is present in the metadata returned with result sets. Whether it is used or not is up to the application.)

The display width does not constrain the range of values that can be stored in the column, nor the number of digits that are displayed for values having a width exceeding that specified for the column. For example, a column specified as SMALLINT(3) has the usual SMALLINT range of -32768 to 32767, and values outside the range allowed by three characters are displayed using more than three characters.

When used in conjunction with the optional extension attribute ZEROFILL, the default padding of spaces is replaced with zeros. For example, for a column declared as INT(5) ZEROFILL, a value of 4 is retrieved as 00004. Note that if you store larger values than the display width in an integer column, you may experience problems when MySQL generates temporary tables for some complicated joins, because in these cases MySQL assumes that the data fits into the original column width.

Note

The ZEROFILL attribute is ignored when a column is involved in expressions or UNION queries.

All integer types can have an optional (nonstandard) attribute UNSIGNED. Unsigned values can be used when you want to allow only nonnegative numbers in a column and you need a larger upper numeric range for the column. For example, if an INT column is UNSIGNED, the size of the column's range is the same but its endpoints shift from -2147483648 and 2147483647 up to 0 and 4294967295.

As of MySQL 4.0.2, floating-point and fixed-point types also can be UNSIGNED. As with integer types, this attribute prevents negative values from being stored in the column. However, unlike the integer types, the upper range of column values remains the same.

If you specify ZEROFILL for a numeric column, MySQL automatically adds the UNSIGNED attribute to the column.

Integer or floating-point data types can have the additional attribute AUTO_INCREMENT. When you insert a value of NULL (recommended) or 0 into an indexed AUTO_INCREMENT column, the column is set to the next sequence value. Typically this is value+1, where value is the largest value for the column currently in the table. AUTO_INCREMENT sequences begin with 1.

For floating-point data types, MySQL uses four bytes for single-precision values and eight bytes for double-precision values.

The FLOAT and DOUBLE data types are used to represent approximate numeric data values. For FLOAT the SQL standard allows an optional specification of the precision (but not the range of the exponent) in bits following the keyword FLOAT in parentheses. MySQL also supports this optional precision specification, but the precision value is used only to determine storage size. A precision from 0 to 23 results in a four-byte single-precision FLOAT column. A precision from 24 to 53 results in an eight-byte double-precision DOUBLE column.

MySQL allows a nonstandard syntax: FLOAT(M,D) or REAL(M,D) or DOUBLE PRECISION(M,D). Here, “(M,D)” means than values can be stored with up to M digits in total, of which D digits may be after the decimal point. For example, a column defined as FLOAT(7,4) will look like -999.9999 when displayed. MySQL performs rounding when storing values, so if you insert 999.00009 into a FLOAT(7,4) column, the approximate result is 999.0001.

MySQL treats DOUBLE as a synonym for DOUBLE PRECISION (a nonstandard extension). MySQL also treats REAL as a synonym for DOUBLE PRECISION (a nonstandard variation), unless the REAL_AS_FLOAT SQL mode is enabled.

For maximum portability, code requiring storage of approximate numeric data values should use FLOAT or DOUBLE PRECISION with no specification of precision or number of digits.

The DECIMAL and NUMERIC data types are used to store exact numeric data values. In MySQL, NUMERIC is implemented as DECIMAL. These types are used to store values for which it is important to preserve exact precision, for example with monetary data.

Through version 4.1, MySQL stores DECIMAL and NUMERIC values as strings, rather than in binary format. One character is used for each digit of the value, the decimal point (if the scale is greater than 0), and the “-” sign (for negative numbers).

When declaring a DECIMAL or NUMERIC column, the precision and scale can be (and usually is) specified; for example:

salary DECIMAL(5,2)

In this example, 5 is the precision and 2 is the scale. The precision represents the number of significant digits that are stored for values, and the scale represents the number of digits that can be stored following the decimal point. If the scale is 0, DECIMAL and NUMERIC values contain no decimal point or fractional part.

Standard SQL requires that the salary column be able to store any value with five digits and two decimals. In this case, therefore, the range of values that can be stored in the salary column is from -999.99 to 999.99. In versions up to and including 4.1, MySQL varies from this limit in two ways due to the use of string format for value storage:

  • On the positive end of the range, the column actually can store numbers up to 9999.99. For positive numbers, MySQL uses the byte reserved for the sign to extend the upper end of the range.

  • DECIMAL columns in MySQL before 3.23 are stored differently and cannot represent all the values required by standard SQL. This is because for a type of DECIMAL(M,D), the value of M includes the bytes for the sign and the decimal point. The range of the salary column before MySQL 3.23 would be -9.99 to 99.99.

In standard SQL, the syntax DECIMAL(M) is equivalent to DECIMAL(M,0). Similarly, the syntax DECIMAL is equivalent to DECIMAL(M,0), where the implementation is allowed to decide the value of M. As of MySQL 3.23.6, both of these variant forms of the DECIMAL and NUMERIC data types are supported. The default value of M is 10. Before 3.23.6, M and D both must be specified explicitly.

The maximum range of DECIMAL and NUMERIC values is the same as for DOUBLE, but the actual range for a given DECIMAL or NUMERIC column can be constrained by the precision or scale for a given column. When such a column is assigned a value with more digits following the decimal point than are allowed by the specified scale, the value is converted to that scale. (The precise behavior is operating system-specific, but generally the effect is truncation to the allowable number of digits.)

When asked to store a value in a numeric column that is outside the data type's allowable range, MySQL clips the value to the appropriate endpoint of the range and stores the resulting value instead.

For example, when an out-of-range value is assigned to an integer column, MySQL stores the value representing the corresponding endpoint of the column data type range. If you store 256 into a TINYINT or TINYINT UNSIGNED column, MySQL stores 127 or 255, respectively. When a floating-point or fixed-point column is assigned a value that exceeds the range implied by the specified (or default) precision and scale, MySQL stores the value representing the corresponding endpoint of that range.

Subtraction between integer values, where one is of type UNSIGNED, produces an unsigned result by default. If the result would otherwise have been negative, it becomes the maximum integer value. If the NO_UNSIGNED_SUBTRACTION SQL mode is enabled, the result is negative.

mysql> SET SQL_MODE = '';
mysql> SELECT CAST(0 AS UNSIGNED) - 1;
+-------------------------+
| CAST(0 AS UNSIGNED) - 1 |
+-------------------------+
|    18446744073709551615 |
+-------------------------+

mysql> SET SQL_MODE = 'NO_UNSIGNED_SUBTRACTION';
mysql> SELECT CAST(0 AS UNSIGNED) - 1;
+-------------------------+
| CAST(0 AS UNSIGNED) - 1 |
+-------------------------+
|                      -1 |
+-------------------------+

If the result of such an operation is used to update an UNSIGNED integer column, the result is clipped to the maximum value for the column type, or clipped to 0 if NO_UNSIGNED_SUBTRACTION is enabled.

Conversions that occur due to clipping are reported as “warnings” for ALTER TABLE, LOAD DATA INFILE, UPDATE, and multiple-row INSERT statements.

10.3. Date and Time Types

The date and time types for representing temporal values are DATETIME, DATE, TIMESTAMP, TIME, and YEAR. Each temporal type has a range of legal values, as well as a “zero” value that is used when you specify an illegal value that MySQL cannot represent. The TIMESTAMP type has special automatic updating behavior, described later on. For temporal type storage requirements, see Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

MySQL versions through 4.1 accept certain “illegal” values for dates, such as '2009-11-31'. This is useful when you want to store a possibly incorrect value specified by a user (for example, in a web form) in the database for future processing. MySQL verifies only that the month is in the range from 0 to 12 and that the day is in the range from 0 to 31. These ranges are defined to include zero because MySQL allows you to store dates where the day or month and day are zero in a DATE or DATETIME column. This is extremely useful for applications that need to store a birthdate for which you do not know the exact date. In this case, you simply store the date as '2009-00-00' or '2009-01-00'. If you store dates such as these, you should not expect to get correct results for functions such as DATE_SUB() or DATE_ADD() that require complete dates.

MySQL also allows you to store '0000-00-00' as a “dummy date.” This is in some cases more convenient (and uses less data and index space) than storing NULL values.

Here are some general considerations to keep in mind when working with date and time types:

  • MySQL retrieves values for a given date or time type in a standard output format, but it attempts to interpret a variety of formats for input values that you supply (for example, when you specify a value to be assigned to or compared to a date or time type). Only the formats described in the following sections are supported. It is expected that you supply legal values. Unpredictable results may occur if you use values in other formats.

  • Dates containing two-digit year values are ambiguous because the century is unknown. MySQL interprets two-digit year values using the following rules:

    • Year values in the range 00-69 are converted to 2000-2069.

    • Year values in the range 70-99 are converted to 1970-1999.

  • Although MySQL tries to interpret values in several formats, dates always must be given in year-month-day order (for example, '98-09-04'), rather than in the month-day-year or day-month-year orders commonly used elsewhere (for example, '09-04-98', '04-09-98').

  • MySQL automatically converts a date or time type value to a number if the value is used in a numeric context and vice versa.

  • By default, when MySQL encounters a value for a date or time type that is out of range or otherwise illegal for the type (as described at the beginning of this section), it converts the value to the “zero” value for that type. The exception is that out-of-range TIME values are clipped to the appropriate endpoint of the TIME range.

    Data TypeZero” Value
    DATETIME'0000-00-00 00:00:00'
    DATE'0000-00-00'
    TIMESTAMP (4.1 and up)'0000-00-00 00:00:00'
    TIMESTAMP (before 4.1)00000000000000
    TIME'00:00:00'
    YEAR0000
  • The “zero” values are special, but you can store or refer to them explicitly using the values shown in the table. You can also do this using the values '0' or 0, which are easier to write.

  • Zero” date or time values used through MyODBC are converted automatically to NULL in MyODBC 2.50.12 and above, because ODBC cannot handle such values.

10.3.1. The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP Types

The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP types are related. This section describes their characteristics, how they are similar, and how they differ.

The DATETIME type is used when you need values that contain both date and time information. MySQL retrieves and displays DATETIME values in 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format. The supported range is '1000-01-01 00:00:00' to '9999-12-31 23:59:59'.

The DATE type is used when you need only a date value, without a time part. MySQL retrieves and displays DATE values in 'YYYY-MM-DD' format. The supported range is '1000-01-01' to '9999-12-31'.

For the DATETIME and DATE range descriptions, “supported” means that although earlier values might work, there is no guarantee.

The TIMESTAMP data type has a range of '1970-01-01 00:00:01' UTC to '2038-01-09 03:14:07' UTC. It has varying properties that depend on the MySQL version, as described later in this section.

You can specify DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP values using any of a common set of formats:

  • As a string in either 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' or 'YY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format. A “relaxed” syntax is allowed: Any punctuation character may be used as the delimiter between date parts or time parts. For example, '98-12-31 11:30:45', '98.12.31 11+30+45', '98/12/31 11*30*45', and '98@12@31 11^30^45' are equivalent.

  • As a string in either 'YYYY-MM-DD' or 'YY-MM-DD' format. A “relaxed” syntax is allowed here, too. For example, '98-12-31', '98.12.31', '98/12/31', and '98@12@31' are equivalent.

  • As a string with no delimiters in either 'YYYYMMDDHHMMSS' or 'YYMMDDHHMMSS' format, provided that the string makes sense as a date. For example, '20070523091528' and '070523091528' are interpreted as '2007-05-23 09:15:28', but '071122129015' is illegal (it has a nonsensical minute part) and becomes '0000-00-00 00:00:00'.

  • As a string with no delimiters in either 'YYYYMMDD' or 'YYMMDD' format, provided that the string makes sense as a date. For example, '20070523' and '070523' are interpreted as '2007-05-23', but '071332' is illegal (it has nonsensical month and day parts) and becomes '0000-00-00'.

  • As a number in either YYYYMMDDHHMMSS or YYMMDDHHMMSS format, provided that the number makes sense as a date. For example, 19830905132800 and 830905132800 are interpreted as '1983-09-05 13:28:00'.

  • As a number in either YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD format, provided that the number makes sense as a date. For example, 19830905 and 830905 are interpreted as '1983-09-05'.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a DATETIME, DATE, or TIMESTAMP context, such as NOW() or CURRENT_DATE.

A microseconds part is allowable in temporal values in some contexts, such as in literal values, and in the arguments to or return values from some temporal functions. Microseconds are specified as a trailing .uuuuuu part in the value. Example:

mysql> SELECT MICROSECOND('2010-12-10 14:12:09.019473');
+-------------------------------------------+
| MICROSECOND('2010-12-10 14:12:09.019473') |
+-------------------------------------------+
|                                     19473 |
+-------------------------------------------+

However, microseconds cannot be stored into a column of any temporal data type. Any microseconds part is discarded.

As of MySQL 5.0.8, conversion of TIME or DATETIME values to numeric form (for example, by adding +0) results in a double value with a microseconds part of .000000:

mysql> SELECT CURTIME(), CURTIME()+0;
+-----------+---------------+
| CURTIME() | CURTIME()+0   |
+-----------+---------------+
| 10:41:36  | 104136.000000 |
+-----------+---------------+
mysql> SELECT NOW(), NOW()+0;
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| NOW()               | NOW()+0               |
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| 2007-11-30 10:41:47 | 20071130104147.000000 |
+---------------------+-----------------------+

Before MySQL 4.1.13, the conversion results in an integer value with no microseconds part.

Illegal DATETIME, DATE, or TIMESTAMP values are converted to the “zero” value of the appropriate type ('0000-00-00 00:00:00', '0000-00-00', or 00000000000000).

For values specified as strings that include date part delimiters, it is not necessary to specify two digits for month or day values that are less than 10. '1979-6-9' is the same as '1979-06-09'. Similarly, for values specified as strings that include time part delimiters, it is not necessary to specify two digits for hour, minute, or second values that are less than 10. '1979-10-30 1:2:3' is the same as '1979-10-30 01:02:03'.

Values specified as numbers should be 6, 8, 12, or 14 digits long. If a number is 8 or 14 digits long, it is assumed to be in YYYYMMDD or YYYYMMDDHHMMSS format and that the year is given by the first 4 digits. If the number is 6 or 12 digits long, it is assumed to be in YYMMDD or YYMMDDHHMMSS format and that the year is given by the first 2 digits. Numbers that are not one of these lengths are interpreted as though padded with leading zeros to the closest length.

Values specified as nondelimited strings are interpreted using their length as given. If the string is 8 or 14 characters long, the year is assumed to be given by the first 4 characters. Otherwise, the year is assumed to be given by the first 2 characters. The string is interpreted from left to right to find year, month, day, hour, minute, and second values, for as many parts as are present in the string. This means you should not use strings that have fewer than 6 characters. For example, if you specify '9903', thinking that represents March, 1999, MySQL inserts a “zero” date into your table. This occurs because the year and month values are 99 and 03, but the day part is completely missing, so the value is not a legal date. However, as of MySQL 3.23, you can explicitly specify a value of zero to represent missing month or day parts. For example, you can use '990300' to insert the value '1999-03-00'.

You can to some extent assign values of one date type to an object of a different date type. However, there may be some alteration of the value or loss of information:

  • If you assign a DATE value to a DATETIME or TIMESTAMP object, the time part of the resulting value is set to '00:00:00' because the DATE value contains no time information.

  • If you assign a DATETIME or TIMESTAMP value to a DATE object, the time part of the resulting value is deleted because the DATE type stores no time information.

  • Remember that although DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP values all can be specified using the same set of formats, the types do not all have the same range of values. For example, TIMESTAMP values cannot be earlier than 1970 UTC or later than '2038-01-09 03:14:07' UTC. This means that a date such as '1968-01-01', while legal as a DATETIME or DATE value, is not valid as a TIMESTAMP value and is converted to 0.

Be aware of certain problems when specifying date values:

  • The relaxed format allowed for values specified as strings can be deceiving. For example, a value such as '10:11:12' might look like a time value because of the “:” delimiter, but if used in a date context is interpreted as the year '2010-11-12'. The value '10:45:15' is converted to '0000-00-00' because '45' is not a legal month.

  • The MySQL server performs only basic checking on the validity of a date: The ranges for year, month, and day are 1000 to 9999, 00 to 12, and 00 to 31, respectively. Any date containing parts not within these ranges is subject to conversion to '0000-00-00'. Please note that this still allows you to store invalid dates such as '2002-04-31'. To ensure that a date is valid, perform a check in your application.

  • Dates containing two-digit year values are ambiguous because the century is unknown. MySQL interprets two-digit year values using the following rules:

    • Year values in the range 00-69 are converted to 2000-2069.

    • Year values in the range 70-99 are converted to 1970-1999.

10.3.1.1. TIMESTAMP Properties Prior to MySQL 4.1

TIMESTAMP values are converted from the current time zone to UTC for storage, and converted back from UTC to the current time zone for retrieval. (This occurs only for the TIMESTAMP data type, not for other types such as DATETIME.)

The TIMESTAMP data type provides a type that you can use to automatically mark INSERT or UPDATE operations with the current date and time. If you have multiple TIMESTAMP columns in a table, only the first one is updated automatically. (From MySQL 4.1.2 on, you can specify which TIMESTAMP column updates; see Section 10.3.1.2, “TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1”.)

Automatic updating of the first TIMESTAMP column in a table occurs under any of the following conditions:

  • You explicitly set the column to NULL.

  • The column is not specified explicitly in an INSERT or LOAD DATA INFILE statement.

  • The column is not specified explicitly in an UPDATE statement and some other column changes value. An UPDATE that sets a column to the value it does not cause the TIMESTAMP column to be updated; if you set a column to its current value, MySQL ignores the update for efficiency.

A TIMESTAMP column other than the first also can be assigned the current date and time by setting it to NULL or to any function that produces the current date and time (NOW(), CURRENT_TIMESTAMP).

Note that the information in the following discussion applies to TIMESTAMP columns only for tables not created with MAXDB mode enabled, because such columns are created as DATETIME columns.

You can set any TIMESTAMP column to a value different from the current date and time by setting it explicitly to the desired value. This is true even for the first TIMESTAMP column. You can use this property if, for example, you want a TIMESTAMP to be set to the current date and time when you create a row, but not to be changed whenever the row is updated later:

  • Let MySQL set the column when the row is created. This initializes it to the current date and time.

  • When you perform subsequent updates to other columns in the row, set the TIMESTAMP column explicitly to its current value:

    UPDATE tbl_name
        SET timestamp_col = timestamp_col,
            other_col1 = new_value1,
            other_col2 = new_value2, ...
    

Another way to maintain a column that records row-creation time is to use a DATETIME column that you initialize to NOW() when the row is created and do not modify for subsequent updates.

TIMESTAMP values may range from the beginning of 1970 to partway through the year 2038, with a resolution of one second. Values are displayed as numbers. When you store a value in a TIMESTAMP column, it is assumed to be represented in the current time zone, and is converted to UTC for storage. When you retrieve the value, it is converted from UTC back to the local time zone for display. Before MySQL 4.1.3, the server has a single time zone. As of 4.1.3, clients can set their own time zones on a per-connection basis, as described in Section 9.7, “MySQL Server Time Zone Support”.

Prior to version 4.1, the format in which MySQL retrieves and displays TIMESTAMP values depends on the display size, as illustrated in the following table. The “fullTIMESTAMP format is 14 digits, but TIMESTAMP columns may be created with shorter display sizes.

Data TypeDisplay Format
TIMESTAMP(14)YYYYMMDDHHMMSS
TIMESTAMP(12)YYMMDDHHMMSS
TIMESTAMP(10)YYMMDDHHMM
TIMESTAMP(8)YYYYMMDD
TIMESTAMP(6)YYMMDD
TIMESTAMP(4)YYMM
TIMESTAMP(2)YY

All TIMESTAMP columns have the same storage size, regardless of display size. The most common display sizes are 6, 8, 12, and 14. You can specify an arbitrary display size at table creation time, but values of 0 or greater than 14 are coerced to 14. Odd-valued sizes in the range from 1 to 13 are coerced to the next higher even number.

TIMESTAMP columns store legal values using the full precision with which the value was specified, regardless of the display size. This has several implications:

  • Always specify year, month, and day, even if your column types are TIMESTAMP(4) or TIMESTAMP(2). Otherwise, the value is not a legal date and 0 is stored.

  • If you use ALTER TABLE to widen a narrow TIMESTAMP column, information is displayed that previously was “hidden.

  • Similarly, narrowing a TIMESTAMP column does not cause information to be lost, except in the sense that less information is shown when the values are displayed.

  • If you are planning to use mysqldump for the database, do not use TIMESTAMP(4) or TIMESTAMP(2). The display format for these data types are not legal dates and 0 will be stored instead. This inconsistency is fixed starting with MySQL 4.1, where display width is ignored. To prepare for transition to versions after 4.0, you should change to use display widths of 6 or more, which will produce a legal display format. You can change the display width of TIMESTAMP data types, without losing any information, by using ALTER TABLE as indicated above.

    If you need to print the timestamps for external applications, you can use MID() to extract the relevant part of the timestamp: for example, to imitate the TIMESTAMP(4) display format.

  • Although TIMESTAMP values are stored to full precision, the only function that operates directly on the underlying stored value is UNIX_TIMESTAMP(). Other functions operate on the formatted retrieved value. This means you cannot use a function such as HOUR() or SECOND() unless the relevant part of the TIMESTAMP value is included in the formatted value. For example, the HH part of a TIMESTAMP column is not displayed unless the display size is at least 10, so trying to use HOUR() on shorter TIMESTAMP values produces a meaningless result.

In MySQL 4.1, TIMESTAMP display format changes to be the same as DATETIME, that is, as a string in 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format rather than as a number in YYYYMMDDHHMMSS format. To test applications written for MySQL 4.0 for compatibility with this change, you can set the new system variable to 1. This variable is available beginning with MySQL 4.0.12. It can be set at server startup by specifying the --new option to mysqld. At runtime, a user who has the SUPER privilege can set the global value with a SET statement:

mysql> SET GLOBAL new = 1;

Any client can set its session value of new as follows:

mysql> SET new = 1;

The general effect of setting new to 1 is that values for existing TIMESTAMP columns display as strings rather than as numbers. Also, DESCRIBE displays the column definition as TIMESTAMP(19), rather than as TIMESTAMP(14).

The effect differs somewhat for TIMESTAMP columns that are created while new is set to 1. In this case, column values display as strings and DESCRIBE shows the definition as TIMESTAMP(19), regardless of the current value of new.

In other words, with new=1, all TIMESTAMP values display as strings and DESCRIBE shows a display width of 19. For columns created while new=1, they continue to display as strings and to have a display width of 19 even if new is set to 0.

For a TIMESTAMP column that displays as a string, you can display it as a number by retrieving it as col_name+0.

10.3.1.2. TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1

In MySQL 4.1 and up, the properties of the TIMESTAMP data type changed in several ways. The following discussion describes the revised syntax and behavior.

Beginning with MySQL 4.1.3, the default current time zone for each connection is the server's time. The time zone can be set on a per-connection basis, as described in Section 9.7, “MySQL Server Time Zone Support”. TIMESTAMP values still are stored in UTC, but are converted from the current time zone for storage, and converted back to the current time zone for retrieval. As long as the time zone setting remains constant, you get back the same value you store. If you store a TIMESTAMP value, and then change the time zone and retrieve the value, the retrieved value is different from the value you stored. This occurs because the same time zone was not used for conversion in both directions. The current time zone is available as the value of the time_zone system variable.

From MySQL 4.1.0 on, TIMESTAMP display format differs from that of earlier MySQL releases:

  • TIMESTAMP columns are displayed in the same format as DATETIME columns. In other words, the display width is fixed at 19 characters, and the format is 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS'.

  • Display widths (used as described in the preceding section) are no longer supported. In other words, for declarations such as TIMESTAMP(2), TIMESTAMP(4), and so on, the display width is ignored.

The following items summarize TIMESTAMP initialization and updating properties prior to MySQL 4.1.2:

  • The first TIMESTAMP column in table row automatically is set to the current timestamp when the record is created if the column is set to NULL or is not specified at all.

  • The first TIMESTAMP column in table row automatically is updated to the current timestamp when the value of any other column in the row is changed, unless the TIMESTAMP column explicitly is assigned a value other than NULL.

  • If a DEFAULT value is specified for the first TIMESTAMP column when the table is created, it is silently ignored.

  • Other TIMESTAMP columns in the table can be set to the current TIMESTAMP by assigning NULL to them, but they do not update automatically.

Beginning with MySQL 4.1.2, you have more flexible control over when automatic TIMESTAMP initialization and updating occur and which column should have those behaviors:

  • For one TIMESTAMP column in a table, you can assign the current timestamp as the default value and the auto-update value. It is possible to have the current timestamp be the default value for initializing the column, for the auto-update value, or both. It is not possible to have the current timestamp be the default value for one column and the auto-update value for another column.

  • Any single TIMESTAMP column in a table can be used as the one that is initialized to the current date and time, or updated automatically. This need not be the first TIMESTAMP column.

  • In a CREATE TABLE statement, the first TIMESTAMP column can be declared in any of the following ways:

    • With both DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP and ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clauses, the column has the current timestamp for its default value, and is automatically updated.

    • With neither DEFAULT nor ON UPDATE clauses, it is the same as DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP.

    • With a DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause and no ON UPDATE clause, the column has the current timestamp for its default value but is not automatically updated.

    • With no DEFAULT clause and with an ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause, the column has a default of 0 and is automatically updated.

    • With a constant DEFAULT value, the column has the given default and is not automatically initialized to the current timestamp. If the column also has an ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause, it is automatically updated; otherwise, it has a constant default and is not automatically updated.

    In other words, you can use the current timestamp for both the initial value and the auto-update value, or either one, or neither. (For example, you can specify ON UPDATE to enable auto-update without also having the column auto-initialized.) The following column definitions demonstrate each of the possibilities:

    • Auto-initialization and auto-update:

      ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
      
    • Auto-initialization only:

      ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
      
    • Auto-update only:

      ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT 0 ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
      
    • Neither:

      ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT 0
      
  • To specify automatic default or updating for a TIMESTAMP column other than the first one, you must suppress the automatic initialization and update behaviors for the first TIMESTAMP column by explicitly assigning it a constant DEFAULT value (for example, DEFAULT 0 or DEFAULT '2003-01-01 00:00:00'). Then, for the other TIMESTAMP column, the rules are the same as for the first TIMESTAMP column, except that if you omit both of the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE clauses, no automatic initialization or updating occurs.

    Example:

    CREATE TABLE t (
        ts1 TIMESTAMP DEFAULT 0,
        ts2 TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                      ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
    
  • CURRENT_TIMESTAMP or any of its synonyms (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), NOW(), LOCALTIME, LOCALTIME(), LOCALTIMESTAMP, or LOCALTIMESTAMP()) can be used in the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE clauses. They all mean “the current timestamp.” (UTC_TIMESTAMP is not allowed. Its range of values does not align with those of the TIMESTAMP column anyway unless the current time zone is UTC.)

  • The order of the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE attributes does not matter. If both DEFAULT and ON UPDATE are specified for a TIMESTAMP column, either can precede the other. For example, these statements are equivalent:

    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP);
    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                                 ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                                 DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
    

The following rules describe the changes in MySQL 4.1 regarding TIMESTAMP and handling of NULL values:

  • Before MySQL 4.1.2, TIMESTAMP columns are NOT NULL. They cannot contain NULL values, and assigning NULL assigns the current timestamp. Any DEFAULT clause is ignored.

  • From MySQL 4.1.2 to 4.1.5, TIMESTAMP columns are NOT NULL. They cannot contain NULL values, and assigning NULL assigns the current timestamp. A DEFAULT NULL clause can be specified, but it is treated as DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP for the first TIMESTAMP column and as DEFAULT 0 for other TIMESTAMP columns.

  • As of MySQL 4.1.6, TIMESTAMP columns are NOT NULL by default, cannot contain NULL values, and assigning NULL assigns the current timestamp. However, a TIMESTAMP column can be allowed to contain NULL by declaring it with the NULL attribute. In this case, the default value also becomes NULL unless overridden with a DEFAULT clause that specifies a different default value. DEFAULT NULL can be used to explicitly specify NULL as the default value. (For a TIMESTAMP column not declared with the NULL attribute, DEFAULT NULL is illegal.) If a TIMESTAMP column allows NULL values, assigning NULL sets it to NULL, not to the current timestamp.

The following table contains several TIMESTAMP columns that allow NULL values:

CREATE TABLE t
(
  ts1 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT NULL,
  ts2 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT 0,
  ts3 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
);

Note that a TIMESTAMP column that allows NULL values not take on the current timestamp except under one of the following conditions:

In other words, a TIMESTAMP column defined as NULL will auto-initialize only if it is created using a definition such as the following:

CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

Otherwise — that is, if the TIMESTAMP column is defined to allow NULL values but not using DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, as shown here…

CREATE TABLE t1 (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT NULL);
CREATE TABLE t2 (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00');

…then you must explicitly insert a value corresponding to the current date and time. For example:

INSERT INTO t1 VALUES (NOW());
INSERT INTO t2 VALUES (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

Note

Beginning with MySQL 4.1.1, the MySQL server can be run with the MAXDB SQL mode enabled. When the server runs with this mode enabled, TIMESTAMP is identical with DATETIME. That is, if this mode is enabled at the time that a table is created, TIMESTAMP columns are created as DATETIME columns. As a result, such columns use DATETIME display format, have the same range of values, and there is no automatic initialization or updating to the current date and time.

To enable MAXDB mode, set the server SQL mode to MAXDB at startup using the --sql-mode=MAXDB server option or by setting the global sql_mode variable at runtime:

mysql> SET GLOBAL sql_mode=MAXDB;

A client can cause the server to run in MAXDB mode for its own connection as follows:

mysql> SET SESSION sql_mode=MAXDB;

10.3.2. The TIME Type

MySQL retrieves and displays TIME values in 'HH:MM:SS' format (or 'HHH:MM:SS' format for large hours values). TIME values may range from '-838:59:59' to '838:59:59'. The hours part may be so large because the TIME type can be used not only to represent a time of day (which must be less than 24 hours), but also elapsed time or a time interval between two events (which may be much greater than 24 hours, or even negative).

You can specify TIME values in a variety of formats:

  • As a string in 'D HH:MM:SS.fraction' format. You can also use one of the following “relaxed” syntaxes: 'HH:MM:SS.fraction', 'HH:MM:SS', 'HH:MM', 'D HH:MM:SS', 'D HH:MM', 'D HH', or 'SS'. Here D represents days and can have a value from 0 to 34. Note that MySQL does not store the fraction part.

  • As a string with no delimiters in 'HHMMSS' format, provided that it makes sense as a time. For example, '101112' is understood as '10:11:12', but '109712' is illegal (it has a nonsensical minute part) and becomes '00:00:00'.

  • As a number in HHMMSS format, provided that it makes sense as a time. For example, 101112 is understood as '10:11:12'. The following alternative formats are also understood: SS, MMSS, HHMMSS, HHMMSS.fraction. Note that MySQL does not store the fractional part.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a TIME context, such as CURRENT_TIME.

A trailing .uuuuuu microseconds part of TIME values is allowed under the same conditions as for other temporal values, as described in Section 10.3.1, “The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP Types”. This includes the property that any microseconds part is discarded from values stored into TIME columns.

For TIME values specified as strings that include a time part delimiter, it is not necessary to specify two digits for hours, minutes, or seconds values that are less than 10. '8:3:2' is the same as '08:03:02'.

Be careful about assigning “shortTIME values to a TIME column. Without colons, MySQL interprets values using the assumption that the rightmost digits represent seconds. (MySQL interprets TIME values as elapsed time rather than as time of day.) For example, you might think of '1112' and 1112 as meaning '11:12:00' (12 minutes after 11 o'clock), but MySQL interprets them as '00:11:12' (11 minutes, 12 seconds). Similarly, '12' and 12 are interpreted as '00:00:12'. TIME values with colons, by contrast, are always treated as time of the day. That is '11:12' means '11:12:00', not '00:11:12'.

By default, values that lie outside the TIME range but are otherwise legal are clipped to the closest endpoint of the range. For example, '-850:00:00' and '850:00:00' are converted to '-838:59:59' and '838:59:59'. Illegal TIME values are converted to '00:00:00'. Note that because '00:00:00' is itself a legal TIME value, there is no way to tell, from a value of '00:00:00' stored in a table, whether the original value was specified as '00:00:00' or whether it was illegal.

For more restrictive treatment of invalid TIME values, enable strict SQL mode to cause errors to occur. See Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

10.3.3. The YEAR Type

The YEAR type is a one-byte type used for representing years. It can be declared as YEAR(2) or YEAR(4) to specify a display width of two or four characters. The default is four characters if no width is given.

For four-digit format, MySQL displays YEAR values in YYYY format, with a range of 1901 to 2155. For two-digit format, MySQL displays values with a range of 70 (1970) to 69 (2069).

You can specify input YEAR values in a variety of formats:

  • As a four-digit string in the range '1901' to '2155'.

  • As a four-digit number in the range 1901 to 2155.

  • As a two-digit string in the range '00' to '99'. Values in the ranges '00' to '69' and '70' to '99' are converted to YEAR values in the ranges 2000 to 2069 and 1970 to 1999.

  • As a two-digit number in the range 1 to 99. Values in the ranges 1 to 69 and 70 to 99 are converted to YEAR values in the ranges 2001 to 2069 and 1970 to 1999. Note that the range for two-digit numbers is slightly different from the range for two-digit strings, because you cannot specify zero directly as a number and have it be interpreted as 2000. You must specify it as a string '0' or '00' or it is interpreted as 0000.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a YEAR context, such as NOW().

Illegal YEAR values are converted to 0000.

10.3.4. Year 2000 Issues and Date Types

MySQL Server itself has no problems with Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance:

  • MySQL Server uses Unix time functions that handle dates into the year 2038 for TIMESTAMP values. For DATE and DATETIME values, dates through the year 9999 are accepted.

  • All MySQL date functions are implemented in one source file, sql/time.cc, and are coded very carefully to be year 2000-safe.

  • In MySQL, the YEAR data type can store the years 0 and 1901 to 2155 in one byte and display them using two or four digits. All two-digit years are considered to be in the range 1970 to 2069, which means that if you store 01 in a YEAR column, MySQL Server treats it as 2001.

Although MySQL Server itself is Y2K-safe, you may run into problems if you use it with applications that are not Y2K-safe. For example, many old applications store or manipulate years using two-digit values (which are ambiguous) rather than four-digit values. This problem may be compounded by applications that use values such as 00 or 99 as “missing” value indicators. Unfortunately, these problems may be difficult to fix because different applications may be written by different programmers, each of whom may use a different set of conventions and date-handling functions.

Thus, even though MySQL Server has no Y2K problems, it is the application's responsibility to provide unambiguous input. Any value containing a two-digit year is ambiguous, because the century is unknown. Such values must be interpreted into four-digit form because MySQL stores years internally using four digits.

For DATETIME, DATE, TIMESTAMP, and YEAR types, MySQL interprets dates with ambiguous year values using the following rules:

  • Year values in the range 00-69 are converted to 2000-2069.

  • Year values in the range 70-99 are converted to 1970-1999.

Remember that these rules are only heuristics that provide reasonable guesses as to what your data values mean. If the rules used by MySQL do not produce the correct values, you should provide unambiguous input containing four-digit year values.

ORDER BY properly sorts TIMESTAMP or YEAR values that have two-digit years.

Some functions like MIN() and MAX() convert a TIMESTAMP or YEAR to a number. This means that a value with a two-digit year does not work properly with these functions. The fix in this case is to convert the TIMESTAMP or YEAR to four-digit year format or use something like MIN(DATE_ADD(timestamp,INTERVAL 0 DAY)).

10.4. String Types

The string types are CHAR, VARCHAR, BINARY, VARBINARY, BLOB, TEXT, ENUM, and SET. This section describes how these types work and how to use them in your queries. For string type storage requirements, see Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

10.4.1. The CHAR and VARCHAR Types

The CHAR and VARCHAR types are similar, but differ in the way they are stored and retrieved.

The CHAR and VARCHAR types are declared with a length that indicates the maximum number of characters you want to store. For example, CHAR(30) can hold up to 30 characters. (Before MySQL 4.1, the length is interpreted as number of bytes.)

The length of a CHAR column is fixed to the length that you declare when you create the table. The length can be any value from 0 to 255. (Before MySQL 3.23, the length of CHAR may be from 1 to 255.) When CHAR values are stored, they are right-padded with spaces to the specified length. When CHAR values are retrieved, trailing spaces are removed.

Values in VARCHAR columns are variable-length strings. The length can be specified as a value from 1 to 255 before MySQL 4.0.2 and 0 to 255 as of MySQL 4.0.2.

In contrast to CHAR, VARCHAR values are stored as a one-byte length prefix plus data. The length prefix indicates the number of bytes in the value.

If you assign a value to a CHAR or VARCHAR column that exceeds the column's maximum length, the value is truncated to fit. If the truncated characters are not spaces, a warning is generated.

VARCHAR values are not padded when they are stored. Trailing spaces in MySQL version up to and including 4.1 are removed from values when stored in a VARCHAR column; this also means that the spaces are absent from retrieved values.

If you need a data type for which trailing spaces are not removed, consider using a BLOB or TEXT type. If you want to store binary values such as results from an encryption or compression function that might contain arbitrary byte values, use a BLOB column rather than a CHAR or VARCHAR column, to avoid potential problems with trailing space removal that would change data values.

The following table illustrates the differences between CHAR and VARCHAR by showing the result of storing various string values into CHAR(4) and VARCHAR(4) columns (assuming that the column uses a single-byte character set such as latin1).

ValueCHAR(4)Storage RequiredVARCHAR(4)Storage Required
'''    '4 bytes''1 byte
'ab''ab  '4 bytes'ab'3 bytes
'abcd''abcd'4 bytes'abcd'5 bytes
'abcdefgh''abcd'4 bytes'abcd'5 bytes

If a given value is stored into the CHAR(4) and VARCHAR(4) columns, the values retrieved from the columns are not always the same because trailing spaces are removed from CHAR columns upon retrieval.

As of MySQL 4.1, values in CHAR and VARCHAR columns are sorted and compared according to the character set collation assigned to the column. Before MySQL 4.1, sorting and comparison are based on the collation of the server character set; you can declare the column with the BINARY attribute to cause sorting and comparison to be based on the numeric values of the bytes in column values. BINARY does not affect how column values are stored or retrieved.

All MySQL collations are of type PADSPACE. This means that all CHAR and VARCHAR values in MySQL are compared without regard to any trailing spaces. For example:

mysql> CREATE TABLE names (myname CHAR(10), yourname VARCHAR(10));
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.09 sec)

mysql> INSERT INTO names VALUES ('Monty ', 'Monty ');
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT myname = 'Monty  ', yourname = 'Monty  ' FROM names;
+--------------------+----------------------+
| myname = 'Monty  ' | yourname = 'Monty  ' |
+--------------------+----------------------+
|                  1 |                    1 |
+--------------------+----------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

This is true for all MySQL versions, and it is not affected by the trimming of trailing spaces from VARCHAR values before storing them. Nor does the server SQL mode make any difference in this regard.

Note

For more information about MySQL character sets and collations, see Section 10.4.1, “The CHAR and VARCHAR Types”.

For those cases where trailing pad characters are stripped or comparisons ignore them, if a column has an index that requires unique values, inserting into the column values that differ only in number of trailing pad characters will result in a duplicate-key error. For example, if a table contains 'a', an attempt to store 'a ' causes a duplicate-key error.

The BINARY attribute is sticky. This means that if a column marked BINARY is used in an expression, the whole expression is treated as a BINARY value.

MySQL may silently change the type of a CHAR or VARCHAR column at table creation time. See Section 12.1.5.1, “Silent Column Specification Changes”.

10.4.2. The BINARY and VARBINARY Types

The BINARY and VARBINARY types are similar to CHAR and VARCHAR, except that they contain binary strings rather than nonbinary strings. That is, they contain byte strings rather than character strings. This means that they have no character set, and sorting and comparison are based on the numeric values of the bytes in the values.

The allowable maximum length is the same for BINARY and VARBINARY as it is for CHAR and VARCHAR, except that the length for BINARY and VARBINARY is a length in bytes rather than in characters.

Before MySQL 4.1.2, BINARY(M) and VARBINARY(M) are treated as CHAR(M) BINARY and VARCHAR(M) BINARY. As of MySQL 4.1.2, the BINARY and VARBINARY data types are distinct from the CHAR BINARY and VARCHAR BINARY data types. For the latter types, the BINARY attribute does not cause the column to be treated as a binary string column. Instead, it causes the binary collation for the column character set to be used, and the column itself contains nonbinary character strings rather than binary byte strings. For example, in 4.1.2 and up, CHAR(5) BINARY is treated as CHAR(5) CHARACTER SET latin1 COLLATE latin1_bin, assuming that the default character set is latin1. This differs from BINARY(5), which stores 5-bytes binary strings that have no character set or collation. For information about differences between nonbinary string binary collations and binary strings, see Section 9.1.6.4, “The _bin and binary Collations”.

If you assign a value to a BINARY or VARBINARY column that exceeds the column's maximum length, the value is truncated to fit. If the truncated characters are not spaces, a warning is generated.

The handling of trailing spaces is the same for BINARY and VARBINARY as it is for CHAR and VARCHAR. When BINARY values are stored, they are right-padded with spaces to the specified length. When BINARY values are retrieved, trailing spaces are removed. For VARBINARY, trailing spaces are removed when values are stored.

For those cases where trailing pad bytes are stripped or comparisons ignore them, if a column has an index that requires unique values, inserting into the column values that differ only in number of trailing pad bytes will result in a duplicate-key error. For example, if a table contains 'a', an attempt to store 'a ' causes a duplicate-key error. Trailing spaces are significant in comparisons.

You should consider the preceding padding and stripping characteristics carefully if you plan to use one of these data types for storing binary data and you require that the value retrieved be exactly the same as the value stored. The following example illustrates how space-padding of BINARY values affects column value comparisons:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t (c BINARY(3));
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> INSERT INTO t SET c = 'a  ';
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT HEX(c), c = 'a', c = 'a  ' from t;
+--------+---------+-----------+
| HEX(c) | c = 'a' | c = 'a  ' |
+--------+---------+-----------+
| 61     | 1       | 0         |
+--------+---------+-----------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

If the value retrieved must be the same as the value specified for storage with no padding, it might be preferable to use one of the BLOB data types instead.

10.4.3. The BLOB and TEXT Types

A BLOB is a binary large object that can hold a variable amount of data. The four BLOB types are TINYBLOB, BLOB, MEDIUMBLOB, and LONGBLOB. These differ only in the maximum length of the values they can hold. The four TEXT types are TINYTEXT, TEXT, MEDIUMTEXT, and LONGTEXT. These correspond to the four BLOB types and have the same maximum lengths and storage requirements. See Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

BLOB columns are treated as binary strings (byte strings). TEXT columns are treated as nonbinary strings (character strings). BLOB columns have no character set, and sorting and comparison are based on the numeric values of the bytes in column values. TEXT columns have a character set, and values are sorted and compared based on the collation of the character set assigned to the column as of MySQL 4.1. Before 4.1, TEXT sorting and comparison are based on the collation of the server character set.

If you assign a value to a BLOB or TEXT column that exceeds the data type's maximum length, the value is truncated to fit and a warning is generated.

If a TEXT or BLOB column is indexed, index entry comparisons are not space-padded at the end. This means that, if the index requires unique values, duplicate-key errors will not occur for values that differ only in the number of trailing spaces. For example, if a table contains 'a', an attempt to store 'a ' does not cause a duplicate-key error. (This behavior changes in MySQL 5.0 for TEXT columns, such that comparisons are space-padded.)

In most respects, you can regard a BLOB column as a VARBINARY column that can be as big as you like. Similarly, you can regard a TEXT column as a VARCHAR column. BLOB and TEXT differ from VARBINARY and VARCHAR in the following ways:

  • There is no trailing-space removal for BLOB and TEXT columns when values are stored or retrieved. This differs from VARBINARY and VARCHAR, for which trailing spaces are removed when values are stored.

    On comparisons, TEXT is space extended to fit the compared object, exactly like CHAR and VARCHAR.

  • You can have indexes on BLOB and TEXT columns only as of MySQL 3.23.2 for MyISAM tables or MySQL 4.0.14 for InnoDB tables. Previous versions of MySQL did not support indexing these data types.

  • For indexes on BLOB and TEXT columns, you must specify an index prefix length. For CHAR and VARCHAR, a prefix length is optional. See Section 7.4.2, “Column Indexes”.

  • BLOB and TEXT columns cannot have DEFAULT values.

From MySQL 4.1.0 on, LONG and LONG VARCHAR map to the MEDIUMTEXT data type. This is a compatibility feature. If you use the BINARY attribute with a TEXT data type, the column is assigned the binary collation of the column character set.

MySQL Connector/ODBC defines BLOB values as LONGVARBINARY and TEXT values as LONGVARCHAR.

Because BLOB and TEXT values can be extremely long, you might encounter some constraints in using them:

Each BLOB or TEXT value is represented internally by a separately allocated object. This is in contrast to all other data types, for which storage is allocated once per column when the table is opened.

In some cases, it may be desirable to store binary data such as media files in BLOB or TEXT columns. You may find MySQL's string handling functions useful for working with such data. See Section 11.4, “String Functions”. For security and other reasons, it is usually preferable to do so using application code rather than allowing application users the FILE privilege. You can discuss specifics for various languages and platforms in the MySQL Forums (http://forums.mysql.com/).

10.4.4. The ENUM Type

An ENUM is a string object with a value chosen from a list of allowed values that are enumerated explicitly in the column specification at table creation time.

An enumeration value must be a quoted string literal; it may not be an expression, even one that evaluates to a string value. For example, you can create a table with an ENUM column like this:

CREATE TABLE sizes (
    name ENUM('small', 'medium', 'large')
);

However, this version of the previous CREATE TABLE statement does not work:

CREATE TABLE sizes (
    c1 ENUM('small', CONCAT('med','ium'), 'large')
);

You also may not employ a user variable as an enumeration value. This pair of statements do not work:

SET @mysize = 'medium';

CREATE TABLE sizes (
    name ENUM('small', @mysize, 'large')
);

If you wish to use a number as an enumeration value, you must enclose it in quotes.

The value may also be the empty string ('') or NULL under certain circumstances:

  • If you insert an invalid value into an ENUM (that is, a string not present in the list of allowed values), the empty string is inserted instead as a special error value. This string can be distinguished from a “normal” empty string by the fact that this string has the numerical value 0. More about this later.

    If strict SQL mode is enabled, attempts to insert invalid ENUM values result in an error.

  • If an ENUM column is declared to allow NULL, the NULL value is a legal value for the column, and the default value is NULL. If an ENUM column is declared NOT NULL, its default value is the first element of the list of allowed values.

Each enumeration value has an index:

  • Values from the list of allowable elements in the column specification are numbered beginning with 1.

  • The index value of the empty string error value is 0. This means that you can use the following SELECT statement to find rows into which invalid ENUM values were assigned:

    mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE enum_col=0;
    
  • The index of the NULL value is NULL.

  • The term “index” here refers only to position within the list of enumeration values. It has nothing to do with table indexes.

For example, a column specified as ENUM('one', 'two', 'three') can have any of the values shown here. The index of each value is also shown.

ValueIndex
NULLNULL
''0
'one'1
'two'2
'three'3

An enumeration can have a maximum of 65,535 elements.

Starting from MySQL 3.23.51, trailing spaces are automatically deleted from ENUM member values in the table definition when a table is created.

When retrieved, values stored into an ENUM column are displayed using the lettercase that was used in the column definition. Before MySQL 4.1.1, lettercase is irrelevant when you assign values to an ENUM column. As of 4.1.1, ENUM columns can be assigned a character set and collation. For binary or case-sensitive collations, lettercase does matter when you assign values to the column.

If you retrieve an ENUM value in a numeric context, the column value's index is returned. For example, you can retrieve numeric values from an ENUM column like this:

mysql> SELECT enum_col+0 FROM tbl_name;

If you store a number into an ENUM column, the number is treated as the index into the possible values, and the value stored is the enumeration member with that index. (However, this does not work with LOAD DATA, which treats all input as strings.) If the numeric value is quoted, it is still interpreted as an index if there is no matching string in the list of enumeration values. For these reasons, it is not advisable to define an ENUM column with enumeration values that look like numbers, because this can easily become confusing. For example, the following column has enumeration members with string values of '0', '1', and '2', but numeric index values of 1, 2, and 3:

numbers ENUM('0','1','2')

If you store 2, it is interpreted as an index value, and becomes '1' (the value with index 2). If you store '2', it matches an enumeration value, so it is stored as '2'. If you store '3', it does not match any enumeration value, so it is treated as an index and becomes '2' (the value with index 3).

mysql> INSERT INTO t (numbers) VALUES(2),('2'),('3');
mysql> SELECT * FROM t;
+---------+
| numbers |
+---------+
| 1       |
| 2       |
| 2       |
+---------+

ENUM values are sorted according to the order in which the enumeration members were listed in the column specification. (In other words, ENUM values are sorted according to their index numbers.) For example, 'a' sorts before 'b' for ENUM('a', 'b'), but 'b' sorts before 'a' for ENUM('b', 'a'). The empty string sorts before nonempty strings, and NULL values sort before all other enumeration values. If you expect sorting to be done alphabetically, you should specify the ENUM list in alphabetical order. You can also use GROUP BY CAST(col AS CHAR) or GROUP BY CONCAT(col) to make sure that the column is sorted lexically rather than by index number.

Functions such as SUM() or AVG() that expect a numeric argument cast the argument to a number if necessary. For ENUM values, the cast operation causes the index number to be used.

If you want to determine all possible values for an ENUM column, use SHOW COLUMNS FROM tbl_name LIKE enum_col and parse the ENUM definition in the Type column of the output.

10.4.5. The SET Type

A SET is a string object that can have zero or more values, each of which must be chosen from a list of allowed values specified when the table is created. SET column values that consist of multiple set members are specified with members separated by commas (“,”). A consequence of this is that SET member values should not themselves contain commas.

For example, a column specified as SET('one', 'two') NOT NULL can have any of these values:

''
'one'
'two'
'one,two'

A SET can have a maximum of 64 different members.

Starting from MySQL 3.23.51, trailing spaces are automatically deleted from SET member values in the table definition when a table is created.

When retrieved, values stored into a SET column are displayed using the lettercase that was used in the column definition. Before MySQL 4.1.1, lettercase is irrelevant when you assign values to an SET column. As of 4.1.1, SET columns can be assigned a character set and collation. For binary or case-sensitive collations, lettercase does matter when you assign values to the column.

MySQL stores SET values numerically, with the low-order bit of the stored value corresponding to the first set member. If you retrieve a SET value in a numeric context, the value retrieved has bits set corresponding to the set members that make up the column value. For example, you can retrieve numeric values from a SET column like this:

mysql> SELECT set_col+0 FROM tbl_name;

If a number is stored into a SET column, the bits that are set in the binary representation of the number determine the set members in the column value. For a column specified as SET('a','b','c','d'), the members have the following decimal and binary values.

SET MemberDecimal ValueBinary Value
'a'10001
'b'20010
'c'40100
'd'81000

If you assign a value of 9 to this column, that is 1001 in binary, the first and fourth SET members 'a' and 'd' are selected and the resulting value is 'a,d'.

For a value containing more than one SET element, it does not matter what order the elements are listed in when you insert the value. It also does not matter how many times a given element is listed in the value. When the value is retrieved later, each element in the value appears once, with elements listed according to the order in which they were specified at table creation time. For example, suppose that a column is specified as SET('a','b','c','d'):

mysql> CREATE TABLE myset (col SET('a', 'b', 'c', 'd'));

If you insert the values 'a,d', 'd,a', 'a,d,d', 'a,d,a', and 'd,a,d':

mysql> INSERT INTO myset (col) VALUES 
-> ('a,d'), ('d,a'), ('a,d,a'), ('a,d,d'), ('d,a,d');
Query OK, 5 rows affected (0.01 sec)
Records: 5  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0

Then all of these values appear as 'a,d' when retrieved:

mysql> SELECT col FROM myset;
+------+
| col  |
+------+
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
+------+
5 rows in set (0.04 sec)

If you set a SET column to an unsupported value, the value is ignored and a warning is issued:

mysql> INSERT INTO myset (col) VALUES ('a,d,d,s');
Query OK, 1 row affected, 1 warning (0.03 sec)

mysql> SHOW WARNINGS;
+---------+------+------------------------------------------+
| Level   | Code | Message                                  |
+---------+------+------------------------------------------+
| Warning | 1265 | Data truncated for column 'col' at row 1 |
+---------+------+------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.04 sec)

mysql> SELECT col FROM myset;
+------+
| col  |
+------+
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
| a,d  |
+------+
6 rows in set (0.01 sec)

If strict SQL mode is enabled, attempts to insert invalid SET values result in an error.

SET values are sorted numerically. NULL values sort before non-NULL SET values.

Functions such as SUM() or AVG() that expect a numeric argument cast the argument to a number if necessary. For SET values, the cast operation causes the numeric value to be used.

Normally, you search for SET values using the FIND_IN_SET() function or the LIKE operator:

mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE FIND_IN_SET('value',set_col)>0;
mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE set_col LIKE '%value%';

The first statement finds rows where set_col contains the value set member. The second is similar, but not the same: It finds rows where set_col contains value anywhere, even as a substring of another set member.

The following statements also are legal:

mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE set_col & 1;
mysql> SELECT * FROM tbl_name WHERE set_col = 'val1,val2';

The first of these statements looks for values containing the first set member. The second looks for an exact match. Be careful with comparisons of the second type. Comparing set values to 'val1,val2' returns different results than comparing values to 'val2,val1'. You should specify the values in the same order in which they are listed in the column definition.

If you want to determine all possible values for a SET column, use SHOW COLUMNS FROM tbl_name LIKE set_col and parse the SET definition in the Type column of the output.

10.5. Data Type Storage Requirements

The storage requirements for each of the data types supported by MySQL are listed here by category.

The maximum size of a row in a MyISAM table is 65,535 bytes. (However, each BLOB or TEXT column contributes only 9–12 bytes toward this size.) This limitation may be shared by other storage engines as well. See Chapter 13, Storage Engines, for more information.

Important

For tables using the NDBCLUSTER storage engine, there is the factor of 4-byte alignment to be taken into account when calculating storage requirements. This means that all NDB data storage is done in multiples of 4 bytes. Thus, a column value that would take 15 bytes in a table using a storage engine other than NDB requires 16 bytes in an NDB table. This requirement applies in addition to any other considerations that are discussed in this section. For example, in NDBCLUSTER tables, the TINYINT, SMALLINT, MEDIUMINT, and INTEGER (INT) column types each require 4 bytes storage per record due to the alignment factor.

An exception to this rule is the BIT type, which is not 4-byte aligned. In MySQL Cluster tables, a BIT(M) column takes M bits of storage space. However, if a table definition contains 1 or more BIT columns (up to 32 BIT columns), then NDBCLUSTER reserves 4 bytes (32 bits) per row for these. If a table definition contains more than 32 BIT columns (up to 64 such columns), then NDBCLUSTER reserves 8 bytes (that is, 64 bits) per row.

In addition, while a NULL itself does not require any storage space, NDBCLUSTER reserves 4 bytes per row if the table definition contains any columns defined as NULL, up to 32 NULL columns. (If a MySQL Cluster table is defined with more than 32 NULL columns up to 64 NULL columns, then 8 bytes per row is reserved.)

When calculating storage requirements for MySQL Cluster tables, you must also remember that every table using the NDBCLUSTER storage engine requires a primary key; if no primary key is defined by the user, then a “hidden” primary key will be created by NDB. This hidden primary key consumes 31-35 bytes per table record.

You may find the ndb_size.pl utility to be useful for estimating NDB storage requirements. This Perl script connects to a current MySQL (non-Cluster) database and creates a report on how much space that database would require if it used the NDBCLUSTER storage engine. See Section 15.6.19, “ndb_size.pl — NDBCLUSTER Size Requirement Estimator”, for more information.

Storage Requirements for Numeric Types

Data TypeStorage Required
TINYINT1 byte
SMALLINT2 bytes
MEDIUMINT3 bytes
INT, INTEGER4 bytes
BIGINT8 bytes
FLOAT(p)4 bytes if 0 <= p <= 24, 8 bytes if 25 <= p <= 53
FLOAT4 bytes
DOUBLE [PRECISION], REAL8 bytes
DECIMAL(M,D), NUMERIC(M,D)Varies; see following discussion

In MySQL versions up to and including 4.1, DECIMAL columns are represented as strings and their storage requirements are:

  • M+2 bytes, if D > 0

  • M+1 bytes, if D = 0

  • D+2, if M < D

Storage Requirements for Date and Time Types

Data TypeStorage Required
DATE3 bytes
TIME3 bytes
DATETIME8 bytes
TIMESTAMP4 bytes
YEAR1 byte

The storage requirements shown in the table arise from the way that MySQL represents temporal values:

  • DATE: A three-byte integer packed as DD + MM×32 + YYYY×16×32

  • TIME: A three-byte integer packed as DD×24×3600 + HH×3600 + MM×60 + SS

  • DATETIME: Eight bytes:

    • A four-byte integer packed as YYYY×10000 + MM×100 + DD

    • A four-byte integer packed as HH×10000 + MM×100 + SS

  • TIMESTAMP: A four-byte integer representing seconds UTC since the epoch ('1970-01-01 00:00:00' UTC)

  • YEAR: A one-byte integer

Storage Requirements for String Types

In the following table, M represents the declared column length in characters for nonbinary string types and bytes for binary string types. L represents the actual length in bytes of a given string value.

Data TypeStorage Required
CHAR(M)M × w bytes, 0 <= M <= 255, where w is the number of bytes required for the maximum-length character in the character set
BINARY(M)M bytes, 0 <= M <= 255
VARCHAR(M), VARBINARY(M)L + 1 bytes, 0 <= L <= 255
TINYBLOB, TINYTEXTL + 1 bytes, where L < 28
BLOB, TEXTL + 2 bytes, where L < 216
MEDIUMBLOB, MEDIUMTEXTL + 3 bytes, where L < 224
LONGBLOB, LONGTEXTL + 4 bytes, where L < 232
ENUM('value1','value2',...)1 or 2 bytes, depending on the number of enumeration values (65,535 values maximum)
SET('value1','value2',...)1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 bytes, depending on the number of set members (64 members maximum)

Variable-length string types are stored using a length prefix plus data. The length prefix requires from one to four bytes depending on the data type, and the value of the prefix is L (the byte length of the string). For example, storage for a MEDIUMTEXT value requires L bytes to store the value plus three bytes to store the length of the value.

As of MySQL 4.1, to calculate the number of bytes used to store a particular CHAR, VARCHAR, or TEXT column value, you must take into account the character set used for that column and whether the value contains multi-byte characters. In particular, when using the utf8 Unicode character set, you must keep in mind that not all utf8 characters use the same number of bytes and can require up to three bytes per character. For a breakdown of the storage used for different categories of utf8 characters, see Section 9.1.8, “Unicode Support”.

VARCHAR and the BLOB and TEXT types are variable-length types. For each, the storage requirements depend on the actual length of column values (represented by L in the preceding table), rather than on the type's maximum possible size. For example, a VARCHAR(10) column can hold a string with a maximum length of 10 characters. The actual storage required is the length of the string (L), plus one byte to record the length of the string. For the string 'abcd', L is 4 and the storage requirement is five bytes.

Note

The NDBCLUSTER engine supports only fixed-width columns. This means that a VARCHAR column from a table in a MySQL Cluster will behave almost as if it were of type CHAR (except that each record still has one extra byte overhead). For example, in an NDB table, each record in a column declared as VARCHAR(100) will take up 101 bytes for storage, regardless of the length of the string actually stored in any given record.

TEXT and BLOB columns are implemented differently in the NDBCLUSTER storage engine, wherein each record in a TEXT column is made up of two separate parts. One of these is of fixed size (256 bytes), and is actually stored in the original table. The other consists of any data in excess of 256 bytes, which is stored in a hidden table. The records in this second table are always 2,000 bytes long. This means that the size of a TEXT column is 256 if size <= 256 (where size represents the size of the record); otherwise, the size is 256 + size + (2000 - (size - 256) % 2000).

The size of an ENUM object is determined by the number of different enumeration values. One byte is used for enumerations with up to 255 possible values. Two bytes are used for enumerations having between 256 and 65,535 possible values. See Section 10.4.4, “The ENUM Type”.

The size of a SET object is determined by the number of different set members. If the set size is N, the object occupies (N + 7) / 8 bytes, rounded up to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8 bytes. A SET can have a maximum of 64 members. See Section 10.4.5, “The SET Type”.

10.6. Choosing the Right Type for a Column

For the most efficient use of storage, try to use the most precise type in all cases. For example, if an integer column is used for values in the range from 1 to 99999, MEDIUMINT UNSIGNED is the best type. Of the types that represent all the required values, it uses the least amount of storage.

For earlier MySQL versions, accurate representation of monetary values was a common problem. In these MySQL versions, you should also use the DECIMAL type. In this case the value is stored as a string, so no loss of accuracy should occur on storage. However, calculations on these DECIMAL values are done using double-precision operations. If accuracy is not too important or if speed is important, the DOUBLE type may also be good enough.

For high precision, you can always convert to a fixed-point type stored in a BIGINT. This allows you to do all calculations with 64-bit integers and then convert results back to floating-point values only when necessary.

PROCEDURE ANALYSE can be used to obtain suggestions for optimal column data types. For more information, see Section 18.3.1, “PROCEDURE ANALYSE.

10.7. Using Data Types from Other Database Engines

To make it easier to use code written for SQL implementations from other vendors, MySQL maps data types as shown in the following table. These mappings make it easier to import table definitions from other database systems into MySQL.

Other Vendor TypeMySQL Type
BINARY(M)CHAR(M) BINARY (before MySQL 4.1.2)
BOOLTINYINT
BOOLEANTINYINT
CHARACTER VARYING(M)VARCHAR(M)
FIXEDDECIMAL (MySQL 4.1.0 on)
FLOAT4FLOAT
FLOAT8DOUBLE
INT1TINYINT
INT2SMALLINT
INT3MEDIUMINT
INT4INT
INT8BIGINT
LONG VARBINARYMEDIUMBLOB
LONG VARCHARMEDIUMTEXT
LONGMEDIUMTEXT (MySQL 4.1.0 on)
MIDDLEINTMEDIUMINT
NUMERICDECIMAL
VARBINARY(M)VARCHAR(M) BINARY (before MySQL 4.1.2)

As of MySQL 4.1.2, BINARY and VARBINARY are distinct data types and are not converted to CHAR BINARY and VARCHAR BINARY.

Data type mapping occurs at table creation time, after which the original type specifications are discarded. If you create a table with types used by other vendors and then issue a DESCRIBE tbl_name statement, MySQL reports the table structure using the equivalent MySQL types. For example:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t (a BOOL, b FLOAT8, c LONG VARCHAR, d NUMERIC);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> DESCRIBE t;
+-------+---------------+------+-----+---------+-------+
| Field | Type          | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
+-------+---------------+------+-----+---------+-------+
| a     | tinyint(1)    | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| b     | double        | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| c     | mediumtext    | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| d     | decimal(10,0) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
+-------+---------------+------+-----+---------+-------+
4 rows in set (0.01 sec)