How to tune MySQL Server to increase MySQL performance

Improving MySQL performance is crucial for improving a website responce times, reduce server load and improve overall work efficiency of a mysql database server.

I’ve seen however many Linux System administrators who does belittle or completely miss the significance of tuning a newly installed MySQL server installation.
The reason behind that is probably caused by fact that many people think MySQL config variables, would not significantly improve performance and does not pay back for optimization efforts. Moreover there are a bunch of system admins who has to take care for numerous services so they don’t have time to get good knowledge to optimize MySQL servers.
Thus many admins and webmasters nowdays, think optimizations depend mostly on the side of the website programmers.
It’s also sometimes falsely believed that optimizing a MySQL server could reduce the overall server stability.

With the boom of Internet website building and internet marketing, many webmasters emerged and almost anybody with almost no knowledge on GNU/Linux or minimal or no knowledge on PHP can start his Online store, open a blog or create a website powered by some CMS like joomla.
Thus nowdays many servers even doesn’t have a hired system administrators but are managed by people whose knowledge on *Nix is almost next to zero, this is another reason why dozens of MySQL installations online are a default ones and are not taking a good advantage of the server hardware.

The incrase of website visitors leads people servers expectations for hardware also to grow, thus many companies simply buy a new hardware instead of taking the few time to investigate on how current server hardware can be utilized better.
In that manner of thought I though it will be a good idea to write this small article on Tuning mysql servers with two scripts and
The scripts are ultra easy to use and does not require only a minimal knowledge on MySQL, Linux or (*BSD *nix if sql is running on BSD). and are therefore suitable for a quick MySQL server optimizations to even people who are no computer experts.

I use this two scripts for MySQL server optimizations on almost every new configured GNU/Linux with a MySQL backend.
Use of the script comes to simply download with wget, lynx, curl or some other web client and execute it on the server host which is already running the MySQL server.

Here is an example of how simple it is to run the scripts to Optimize MySQL:

debian:~# perl
>> MySQLTuner 1.2.0 - Major Hayden >[email protected]<
>> Bug reports, feature requests, and downloads at
>> Run with '--help' for additional options and output filtering

-------- General Statistics --------------------------------------------------
[--] Skipped version check for MySQLTuner script
[OK] Currently running supported MySQL version 5.1.49-3
[OK] Operating on 64-bit architecture

-------- Storage Engine Statistics -------------------------------------------
[--] Status: +Archive -BDB -Federated +InnoDB -ISAM -NDBCluster 
[--] Data in MyISAM tables: 6G (Tables: 952)
[!!] InnoDB is enabled but isn't being used
[!!] Total fragmented tables: 12

-------- Security Recommendations -------------------------------------------
[OK] All database users have passwords assigned

-------- Performance Metrics -------------------------------------------------
[--] Up for: 1d 2h 3m 35s (68M q [732.193 qps], 610K conn, TX: 49B, RX: 11B)
[--] Reads / Writes: 76% / 24%
[--] Total buffers: 512.0M global + 2.8M per thread (2000 max threads)
[OK] Maximum possible memory usage: 6.0G (25% of installed RAM)
[OK] Slow queries: 0% (3K/68M)
[OK] Highest usage of available connections: 7% (159/2000)
[OK] Key buffer size / total MyISAM indexes: 230.0M/1.7G
[OK] Key buffer hit rate: 97.8% (11B cached / 257M reads)
[OK] Query cache efficiency: 76.6% (46M cached / 61M selects)
[!!] Query cache prunes per day: 1822075
[OK] Sorts requiring temporary tables: 0% (1K temp sorts / 2M sorts)
[!!] Joins performed without indexes: 63635
[OK] Temporary tables created on disk: 1% (26K on disk / 2M total)
[OK] Thread cache hit rate: 99% (159 created / 610K connections)
[!!] Table cache hit rate: 4% (1K open / 43K opened)
[OK] Open file limit used: 17% (2K/16K)
[OK] Table locks acquired immediately: 99% (36M immediate / 36M locks)

-------- Recommendations -----------------------------------------------------
General recommendations:
Add skip-innodb to MySQL configuration to disable InnoDB
Run OPTIMIZE TABLE to defragment tables for better performance
Enable the slow query log to troubleshoot bad queries
Increasing the query_cache size over 128M may reduce performance
Adjust your join queries to always utilize indexes
Increase table_cache gradually to avoid file descriptor limits
Variables to adjust:
query_cache_size (> 256M) [see warning above] join_buffer_size (> 256.0K, or always use indexes with joins) table_cache (> 7200)

You see there are plenty of things, the script reports, for the unexperienced most of the information can be happily skipped without need to know the cryptic output, the section of importance here isRecommendations for some clarity, I’ve made this section to show up bold.

The most imporant things from the Recommendations script output is actually the lines who give suggestions for incrase of certain variables for MySQL.In this example case this are the last three variables:
join_buffer_size and

All of these variables are tuned from /etc/mysql/my.cnf (on Debian) and derivatives distros and from /etc/my.cnf on RHEL, CentOS, Fedora and the other RPM based Linux distributions.

On some custom server installs my.cnf is also located in/usr/local/mysql/etc/ or some other a bit more unstandard location .

Anyways now having the Recommendation from the script, it’s necessery to edit my.cnf and try to double the values for the suggested variables.

First, I check if all the suggested variables are existent in my config with grep , if they’re not then I’ll simply add the variable with doubled size of the suggested values.
P.S: One note here is sometimes some values which are configured, are the default value for the MySQL server and does not have a record in my.cnf

debian:~# grep -E 'query_cache_size|join_buffer_size|table_cache' /etc/mysql/my.cnf table_cache = 7200
query_cache_size = 256M
join_buffer_size = 262144

All of my variables are in the config so, now edit my.cnf and set values to:
table_cache = 14400
query_cache_size = 512M
join_buffer_size = 524288

I always, however preserve the old variable’s value, because sometimes raising the value might create problem and the MySql server might be unable to restart properly.
Thus before going with adding the new values make sure the old ones are commented with , e.g.:
#table_cache = 7200
#query_cache_size = 256M
#join_buffer_size = 262144

I would recommend vim as editor of choice while editing my.cnf as vim completely rox . If you’re not acquainted to vim use nano or mcedit or your editor of choice  :

debian:~# vim /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Assuming that the changes are made, it’s time to restart MySQL to make sure the new values are read by the SQL server.

debian:~# /etc/init.d/mysql restart
* Stopping MySQL database server mysqld [ OK ]
* Starting MySQL database server mysqld [ OK ]
Checking for tables which need an upgrade, are corrupt or were not closed cleanly.

If mysql server fails, however to restart, make sure immediately you reverse back the changed variables to the commented values and restart once again via mysql init script to make server load.

Afterwards start adding the values one by one until find out which one is causing the mysqld to fail.

Now the second script ( is also really nice for MySQL performance optimizations are necessery. However it’s less portable (as it’s written in bash scripting language).
Consider running this script among different GNU/Linux distributious (especially the newer ones) might produce errors. requires some minor code changes to be able to run on FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD *nices.

The way works is precisely like , one runs it it gives some info about current running MySQL server and based on certain factors gives suggestions on how increasing or decresing certain my.cnf variables could reduce sql query bottlenecks, solve table locking issues as well as generally improve INSERT, UPDATEquery times.

Here is an example output from run on another server:

server:~# wget
server:~# sh
- By: Matthew Montgomery -

MySQL Version 5.0.51a-24+lenny5 x86_64

Uptime = 8 days 10 hrs 19 min 8 sec
Avg. qps = 179
Total Questions = 130851322
Threads Connected = 1

Server has been running for over 48hrs.
It should be safe to follow these recommendations

To find out more information on how each of these
runtime variables effects performance visit:

Current long_query_time = 1 sec.
You have 16498 out of 130851322 that take longer than 1 sec. to complete
The slow query log is NOT enabled.
Your long_query_time seems to be fine

Current max_connections = 2000
Current threads_connected = 1
Historic max_used_connections = 85
The number of used connections is 4% of the configured maximum.
Your max_connections variable seems to be fine.

Current thread_cache_size = 128
Current threads_cached = 84
Current threads_per_sec = 0
Historic threads_per_sec = 0
Your thread_cache_size is fine

MEMORY USAGE line 994: let: expression expected
Max Memory Ever Allocated : 741 M
Configured Max Memory Limit : 5049 M
Total System Memory : 23640 M

Current MyISAM index space = 1646 M
Current key_buffer_size = 476 M
Key cache miss rate is 1 / 56
Key buffer fill ratio = 90.00 %
You could increase key_buffer_size
It is safe to raise this up to 1/4 of total system memory;
assuming this is a dedicated database server.

Query cache is enabled
Current query_cache_size = 64 M
Current query_cache_used = 38 M
Current Query cache fill ratio = 59.90 %

Current sort_buffer_size = 2 M
Current record/read_rnd_buffer_size = 256.00 K
Sort buffer seems to be fine

Current join_buffer_size = 128.00 K
You have had 111560 queries where a join could not use an index properly
You have had 91 joins without keys that check for key usage after each row
You should enable "log-queries-not-using-indexes"
Then look for non indexed joins in the slow query log.
If you are unable to optimize your queries you may want to increase your
join_buffer_size to accommodate larger joins in one pass.

Current table_cache value = 3600 tables
You have a total of 798 tables
You have 1904 open tables.
The table_cache value seems to be fine

Current tmp_table_size = 128 M
1% of tmp tables created were disk based
Created disk tmp tables ratio seems fine

Current read_buffer_size = 128.00 K
Current table scan ratio = 797 : 1
read_buffer_size seems to be fine

Current Lock Wait ratio = 1 : 1782
You may benefit from selective use of InnoDB.


As seen from script output, there are certain variables which might be increased a bit for better SQL performance, one such variable as suggested is key_buffer_size(You could increase key_buffer_size)

Now the steps to make the tunings to my.cnf are precisely the same as with, e.g.:
1. Preserve old config variables which will be changed by commenting them
2. Double value of current variables in my.cnf suggested by script
3. Restart Mysql server via /etc/init.d/mysql restart cmd.
4. If mysql runs fine monitor mysql performance with mtop or mytopfor at least 15 mins / half an hour.

if all is fine run once again the tuning scripts to see if there are no further improvement suggestions, if there are more follow the 4 steps described procedure once again.

It’s also a good idea that these scripts are periodically re-run on the server like once per few months as changes in SQL queries amounts and types will require changes in MySQL operational variables.
The authors of these nice scripts has done great job and have saved us a tons of nerves time, downtimes and money spend on meaningless hardware. So big thanks for the awesome scripts guys 
Finally after hopefully succesful deployment of changes, enjoy the incresed SQL server performance  


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