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“INSERT IGNORE” vs “INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE”

General Tech Bugs & Fixes
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Garry Buttler

User

( 8 months ago )

While executing an INSERT statement with many rows, I want to skip duplicate entries that would otherwise cause failure. After some research, my options appear to be the use of either:

  • ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE which implies an unnecessary update at some cost, or
  • INSERT IGNORE which implies an invitation for other kinds of failure to slip in unannounced.

Am I right in these assumptions? What's the best way to simply skip the rows that might cause duplicates and just continue on to the other rows?

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Dilpreet Kaur

User

( 8 months ago )

I would recommend using INSERT...ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE.

If you use INSERT IGNORE, then the row won't actually be inserted if it results in a duplicate key. But the statement won't generate an error. It generates a warning instead. These cases include:

  • Inserting a duplicate key in columns with PRIMARY KEY or UNIQUE constraints.
  • Inserting a NULL into a column with a NOT NULL constraint.
  • Inserting a row to a partitioned table, but the values you insert don't map to a partition.

If you use REPLACE, MySQL actually does a DELETE followed by an INSERT internally, which has some unexpected side effects:

  • A new auto-increment ID is allocated.
  • Dependent rows with foreign keys may be deleted (if you use cascading foreign keys) or else prevent the REPLACE.
  • Triggers that fire on DELETE are executed unnecessarily.
  • Side effects are propagated to replication slaves too.

correction: both REPLACE and INSERT...ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE are non-standard, proprietary inventions specific to MySQL. ANSI SQL 2003 defines a MERGE statement that can solve the same need (and more), but MySQL does not support the MERGE statement.


A user tried to edit this post (the edit was rejected by moderators). The edit tried to add a claim that INSERT...ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE causes a new auto-increment id to be allocated. It's true that the new id is generated, but it is not used in the changed row.

See demonstration below, tested with Percona Server 5.5.28. The configuration variable innodb_autoinc_lock_mode=1 (the default):

mysql> create table foo (id serial primary key, u int, unique key (u));
mysql> insert into foo (u) values (10);
mysql> select * from foo;
+----+------+
| id | u    |
+----+------+
|  1 |   10 |
+----+------+

mysql> show create table foo\G
CREATE TABLE `foo` (
  `id` bigint(20) unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `u` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  UNIQUE KEY `u` (`u`)
) ENGINE=InnoDB AUTO_INCREMENT=2 DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1

mysql> insert into foo (u) values (10) on duplicate key update u = 20;
mysql> select * from foo;
+----+------+
| id | u    |
+----+------+
|  1 |   20 |
+----+------+

mysql> show create table foo\G
CREATE TABLE `foo` (
  `id` bigint(20) unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `u` int(
			
        

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