Tips for Improving Your MySQL Database Performance


Author: Robert Agar

MySQL is used by many businesses as the database backend for online stores and e-commerce sites. When deployed in this way, the performance of the database can become a critical factor in the success or failure of the enterprise. Customers don’t want to wait around for your pages to load, and your database performance impacts the time it takes to display information. A difference of a few seconds can have a tremendous impact on the number of potential visitors that bounce away from your site, never to be seen again.

Unless you have a unique product or concept, there are liable to be alternative sites that can address your customers’ needs. You may only get one chance to attract a new customer so you want it to be your best shot. Delivering fast MySQL database performance is one way of impressing a prospective visitor and letting them see what you have to offer. 

Basic Methods to Improve MySQL Performance

A MySQL implementation has many different components that contribute to its performance, or lack thereof. Some basic steps can be taken to ensure that your database is performing well and keeping your customers satisfied. Here are some settings that should be configured to get your database working efficiently.

max_connections – The default number of connections to a MySQL database is 151. You may need to raise this value if you are getting errors indicating that there are too many connections to your database. Care must be taken when increasing this value, as too many active connections can cause the database to grind to a halt. Consider using a connection pool at the application level or a thread pool at the MySQL level to help resolve this issue.

innodb_buffer_pool_size – You want this setting to use as much memory as possible so data can be cached for read operations. Setting it too low will result in excessive disk reads which slow down performance. Using a value of close to 90% of memory is a good place to start when tuning this parameter.

query_cache_size – Disabling the query cache by setting query_cache_size = 0 eliminates the bottlenecks that can be caused by this entity. This is the default setting for MySQL 5.6 and later versions, and making this change should be considered if you are having query performance issues that affect your database.

Verify the Computing Environment

The computing environment that supports the MySQL database naturally has a major impact on its performance. Four fundamental resources are required by a database server. These resources are often under-provisioned and the amount allocated to your database server may need to be adjusted.

  • CPU determines the amount of processing power available to your database. Faster CPUs will increase performance.
  • Memory can be used to cache data and minimize the number of disk reads required to fulfill a query. Adding memory can provide immediate performance gains, especially in disk-bound workloads.
  • Disk space is required for log and database files. 
  • Network connectivity enables users to connect to your database. Insufficient network access will result in failed connection attempts and lost visitors. 

If your database performance is not meeting expectations, take a look at how these resources are being used. You may be able to find a relatively quick and easy fix for a slow database.

Examine the Queries

Even after adding additional resources, you can still be faced with a database that runs slowly. Once the physical variables that impact performance have been addressed, it’s time to look at the logical variables of the code that interacts with the database. Bad code will negate the benefits of fully-provisioned hardware.

Queries are at the heart of a database application. They search for and return the information requested by users or customers. Inefficient queries will degrade system performance and make users impatient. When problem queries are found, there are methods with which they can be optimized. These include the wise use of indexes and avoiding expressions with leading wildcards. Changing the indexing structure on an essential table can have a tremendous impact on query execution speed. 

Resolving issues with problem queries starts by identifying the queries that need attention. Doing that effectively requires a versatile monitoring tool like SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL. The information available from this tool gives MySQL DBAs what they need to find the queries that are bogging down performance. Its features include the ability to:

  • Perform real-time monitoring that lets you see what’s going on in your MySQL database and take corrective action when necessary.
  • Find the ten queries that are taking the most time to execute.
  • Monitor, alert, and kill long-running or locked SQL queries.
  • Deploy the tool in hybrid cloud environments.
  • Customize dashboards and charts to fit specific requirements. 

Maintaining a high-performing MySQL database application may require adopting multiple strategies. The issue can be with the hardware configuration of your database server or the logic that drives your queries. You will need all the tools and information at your disposal to increase performance and attract more visitors to your websites.

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