13.4. MySQL Transactional and Locking Statements

MySQL supports local transactions (within a given client connection) through statements such as SET AUTOCOMMIT, START TRANSACTION, COMMIT, and ROLLBACK. See Section 13.4.1, “START TRANSACTION, COMMIT, and ROLLBACK Syntax”. Beginning with MySQL 5.0, XA transaction support is available, which enables MySQL to participate in distributed transactions as well. See Section 13.4.7, “XA Transactions”.



The START TRANSACTION and BEGIN statement begin a new transaction. COMMIT commits the current transaction, making its changes permanent. ROLLBACK rolls back the current transaction, canceling its changes. The SET AUTOCOMMIT statement disables or enables the default autocommit mode for the current connection.

Beginning with MySQL 5.0.3, the optional WORK keyword is supported for COMMIT and RELEASE, as are the CHAIN and RELEASE clauses. CHAIN and RELEASE can be used for additional control over transaction completion. The value of the completion_type system variable determines the default completion behavior. See Section 5.2.2, “Server System Variables”.

The AND CHAIN clause causes a new transaction to begin as soon as the current one ends, and the new transaction has the same isolation level as the just-terminated transaction. The RELEASE clause causes the server to disconnect the current client connection after terminating the current transaction. Including the NO keyword suppresses CHAIN or RELEASE completion, which can be useful if the completion_type system variable is set to cause chaining or release completion by default.

By default, MySQL runs with autocommit mode enabled. This means that as soon as you execute a statement that updates (modifies) a table, MySQL stores the update on disk.

If you are using a transaction-safe storage engine (such as InnoDB, BDB, or NDB Cluster), you can disable autocommit mode with the following statement:


After disabling autocommit mode by setting the AUTOCOMMIT variable to zero, you must use COMMIT to store your changes to disk or ROLLBACK if you want to ignore the changes you have made since the beginning of your transaction.

To disable autocommit mode for a single series of statements, use the START TRANSACTION statement:

SELECT @A:=SUM(salary) FROM table1 WHERE type=1;
UPDATE table2 SET summary=@A WHERE type=1;

With START TRANSACTION, autocommit remains disabled until you end the transaction with COMMIT or ROLLBACK. The autocommit mode then reverts to its previous state.

BEGIN and BEGIN WORK are supported as aliases of START TRANSACTION for initiating a transaction. START TRANSACTION is standard SQL syntax and is the recommended way to start an ad-hoc transaction.

The BEGIN statement differs from the use of the BEGIN keyword that starts a BEGIN ... END compound statement. The latter does not begin a transaction. See Section 17.2.5, “BEGIN ... END Compound Statement Syntax”.

You can also begin a transaction like this:


The WITH CONSISTENT SNAPSHOT clause starts a consistent read for storage engines that are capable of it. Currently, this applies only to InnoDB. The effect is the same as issuing a START TRANSACTION followed by a SELECT from any InnoDB table. See Section, “Consistent Non-Locking Read”.

The WITH CONSISTENT SNAPSHOT clause does not change the current transaction isolation level, so it provides a consistent snapshot only if the current isolation level is one that allows consistent read (REPEATABLE READ or SERIALIZABLE).

Beginning a transaction causes an implicit UNLOCK TABLES to be performed.

For best results, transactions should be performed using only tables managed by a single transactional storage engine. Otherwise, the following problems can occur:

  • If you use tables from more than one transaction-safe storage engine (such as InnoDB and BDB), and the transaction isolation level is not SERIALIZABLE, it is possible that when one transaction commits, another ongoing transaction that uses the same tables will see only some of the changes made by the first transaction. That is, the atomicity of transactions is not guaranteed with mixed engines and inconsistencies can result. (If mixed-engine transactions are infrequent, you can use SET TRANSACTION ISOLATION LEVEL to set the isolation level to SERIALIZABLE on a per-transaction basis as necessary.)

  • If you use non-transaction-safe tables within a transaction, any changes to those tables are stored at once, regardless of the status of autocommit mode.

    If you issue a ROLLBACK statement after updating a non-transactional table within a transaction, an ER_WARNING_NOT_COMPLETE_ROLLBACK warning occurs. Changes to transaction-safe tables are rolled back, but not changes to non-transaction-safe tables.

Each transaction is stored in the binary log in one chunk, upon COMMIT. Transactions that are rolled back are not logged. (Exception: Modifications to non-transactional tables cannot be rolled back. If a transaction that is rolled back includes modifications to non-transactional tables, the entire transaction is logged with a ROLLBACK statement at the end to ensure that the modifications to those tables are replicated.) See Section 5.12.3, “The Binary Log”.

You can change the isolation level for transactions with SET TRANSACTION ISOLATION LEVEL. See Section 13.4.6, “SET TRANSACTION Syntax”.

Rolling back can be a slow operation that may occur without the user having explicitly asked for it (for example, when an error occurs). Because of this, SHOW PROCESSLIST displays Rolling back in the State column for the connection during implicit and explicit (ROLLBACK SQL statement) rollbacks.

13.4.2. Statements That Cannot Be Rolled Back

Some statements cannot be rolled back. In general, these include data definition language (DDL) statements, such as those that create or drop databases, those that create, drop, or alter tables or stored routines.

You should design your transactions not to include such statements. If you issue a statement early in a transaction that cannot be rolled back, and then another statement later fails, the full effect of the transaction cannot be rolled back in such cases by issuing a ROLLBACK statement.

13.4.3. Statements That Cause an Implicit Commit

Each of the following statements (and any synonyms for them) implicitly end a transaction, as if you had done a COMMIT before executing the statement:


  • UNLOCK TABLES commits a transaction only if any tables currently are locked.

  • The CREATE TABLE, CREATE DATABASE DROP DATABASE, and TRUNCATE TABLE statements cause an implicit commit beginning with MySQL 5.0.8. The ALTER FUNCTION, ALTER PROCEDURE, CREATE FUNCTION, CREATE PROCEDURE, DROP FUNCTION, and DROP PROCEDURE statements cause an implicit commit beginning with MySQL 5.0.13.

  • The CREATE TABLE statement in InnoDB is processed as a single transaction. This means that a ROLLBACK from the user does not undo CREATE TABLE statements the user made during that transaction.

Transactions cannot be nested. This is a consequence of the implicit COMMIT performed for any current transaction when you issue a START TRANSACTION statement or one of its synonyms.


SAVEPOINT identifier

InnoDB supports the SQL statements SAVEPOINT and ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT. Starting from MySQL 5.0.3, RELEASE SAVEPOINT and the optional WORK keyword for ROLLBACK are supported as well.

The SAVEPOINT statement sets a named transaction savepoint with a name of identifier. If the current transaction has a savepoint with the same name, the old savepoint is deleted and a new one is set.

The ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT statement rolls back a transaction to the named savepoint. Modifications that the current transaction made to rows after the savepoint was set are undone in the rollback, but InnoDB does not release the row locks that were stored in memory after the savepoint. (Note that for a new inserted row, the lock information is carried by the transaction ID stored in the row; the lock is not separately stored in memory. In this case, the row lock is released in the undo.) Savepoints that were set at a later time than the named savepoint are deleted.

If the ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT statement returns the following error, it means that no savepoint with the specified name exists:

ERROR 1181: Got error 153 during ROLLBACK

The RELEASE SAVEPOINT statement removes the named savepoint from the set of savepoints of the current transaction. No commit or rollback occurs. It is an error if the savepoint does not exist.

All savepoints of the current transaction are deleted if you execute a COMMIT, or a ROLLBACK that does not name a savepoint.

Beginning with MySQL 5.0.17, a new savepoint level is created when a stored function is invoked or a trigger is activated. The savepoints on previous levels become unavailable and thus do not conflict with savepoints on the new level. When the function or trigger terminates, any savepoints it created are released and the previous savepoint level is restored.


    tbl_name [AS alias] {READ [LOCAL] | [LOW_PRIORITY] WRITE}
    [, tbl_name [AS alias] {READ [LOCAL] | [LOW_PRIORITY] WRITE}] ...

LOCK TABLES locks tables for the current thread. If any of the tables are locked by other threads, it blocks until all locks can be acquired. UNLOCK TABLES releases any locks held by the current thread. All tables that are locked by the current thread are implicitly unlocked when the thread issues another LOCK TABLES, or when the connection to the server is closed.

A table lock protects only against inappropriate reads or writes by other clients. The client holding the lock, even a read lock, can perform table-level operations such as DROP TABLE.

Note the following regarding the use of LOCK TABLES with transactional tables:

  • LOCK TABLES is not transaction-safe and implicitly commits any active transactions before attempting to lock the tables. Also, beginning a transaction (for example, with START TRANSACTION) implicitly performs an UNLOCK TABLES. (See Section 13.4.3, “Statements That Cause an Implicit Commit”.)

  • The correct way to use LOCK TABLES with transactional tables, such as InnoDB tables, is to set AUTOCOMMIT = 0 and not to call UNLOCK TABLES until you commit the transaction explicitly. When you call LOCK TABLES, InnoDB internally takes its own table lock, and MySQL takes its own table lock. InnoDB releases its table lock at the next commit, but for MySQL to release its table lock, you have to call UNLOCK TABLES. You should not have AUTOCOMMIT = 1, because then InnoDB releases its table lock immediately after the call of LOCK TABLES, and deadlocks can very easily happen. Note that we do not acquire the InnoDB table lock at all if AUTOCOMMIT=1, to help old applications avoid unnecessary deadlocks.

  • ROLLBACK does not release MySQL's non-transactional table locks.

To use LOCK TABLES, you must have the LOCK TABLES privilege and the SELECT privilege for the involved tables.

The main reasons to use LOCK TABLES are to emulate transactions or to get more speed when updating tables. This is explained in more detail later.

If a thread obtains a READ lock on a table, that thread (and all other threads) can only read from the table. If a thread obtains a WRITE lock on a table, only the thread holding the lock can write to the table. Other threads are blocked from reading or writing the table until the lock has been released.

The difference between READ LOCAL and READ is that READ LOCAL allows non-conflicting INSERT statements (concurrent inserts) to execute while the lock is held. However, this cannot be used if you are going to manipulate the database files outside MySQL while you hold the lock. For InnoDB tables, READ LOCAL is the same as READ as of MySQL 5.0.13. (Before that, READ LOCAL essentially does nothing: It does not lock the table at all, so for InnoDB tables, the use of READ LOCAL is deprecated because a plain consistent-read SELECT does the same thing, and no locks are needed.)

When you use LOCK TABLES, you must lock all tables that you are going to use in your queries. While the locks obtained with a LOCK TABLES statement are in effect, you cannot access any tables that were not locked by the statement. Also, you cannot use a locked table multiple times in a single query. Use aliases instead, in which case you must obtain a lock for each alias separately.

ERROR 1100: Table 't' was not locked with LOCK TABLES

If your queries refer to a table by means of an alias, you must lock the table using that same alias. It does not work to lock the table without specifying the alias:

mysql> SELECT * FROM t AS myalias;
ERROR 1100: Table 'myalias' was not locked with LOCK TABLES

Conversely, if you lock a table using an alias, you must refer to it in your queries using that alias:

mysql> LOCK TABLE t AS myalias READ;
mysql> SELECT * FROM t;
ERROR 1100: Table 't' was not locked with LOCK TABLES
mysql> SELECT * FROM t AS myalias;

WRITE locks normally have higher priority than READ locks to ensure that updates are processed as soon as possible. This means that if one thread obtains a READ lock and then another thread requests a WRITE lock, subsequent READ lock requests wait until the WRITE thread has gotten the lock and released it. You can use LOW_PRIORITY WRITE locks to allow other threads to obtain READ locks while the thread is waiting for the WRITE lock. You should use LOW_PRIORITY WRITE locks only if you are sure that eventually there will be a time when no threads have a READ lock.

LOCK TABLES works as follows:

  1. Sort all tables to be locked in an internally defined order. From the user standpoint, this order is undefined.

  2. If a table is locked with a read and a write lock, put the write lock before the read lock.

  3. Lock one table at a time until the thread gets all locks.

This policy ensures that table locking is deadlock free. There are, however, other things you need to be aware of about this policy: If you are using a LOW_PRIORITY WRITE lock for a table, it means only that MySQL waits for this particular lock until there are no threads that want a READ lock. When the thread has gotten the WRITE lock and is waiting to get the lock for the next table in the lock table list, all other threads wait for the WRITE lock to be released. If this becomes a serious problem with your application, you should consider converting some of your tables to transaction-safe tables.

You can safely use KILL to terminate a thread that is waiting for a table lock. See Section, “KILL Syntax”.

Note that you should not lock any tables that you are using with INSERT DELAYED because in that case the INSERT is performed by a separate thread.

Normally, you do not need to lock tables, because all single UPDATE statements are atomic; no other thread can interfere with any other currently executing SQL statement. However, there are a few cases when locking tables may provide an advantage:

  • If you are going to run many operations on a set of MyISAM tables, it is much faster to lock the tables you are going to use. Locking MyISAM tables speeds up inserting, updating, or deleting on them. The downside is that no thread can update a READ-locked table (including the one holding the lock) and no thread can access a WRITE-locked table other than the one holding the lock.

    The reason some MyISAM operations are faster under LOCK TABLES is that MySQL does not flush the key cache for the locked tables until UNLOCK TABLES is called. Normally, the key cache is flushed after each SQL statement.

  • If you are using a storage engine in MySQL that does not support transactions, you must use LOCK TABLES if you want to ensure that no other thread comes between a SELECT and an UPDATE. The example shown here requires LOCK TABLES to execute safely:

    LOCK TABLES trans READ, customer WRITE;
    SELECT SUM(value) FROM trans WHERE customer_id=some_id;
    UPDATE customer
      SET total_value=sum_from_previous_statement
      WHERE customer_id=some_id;

    Without LOCK TABLES, it is possible that another thread might insert a new row in the trans table between execution of the SELECT and UPDATE statements.

You can avoid using LOCK TABLES in many cases by using relative updates (UPDATE customer SET value=value+new_value) or the LAST_INSERT_ID() function. See Section, “Transactions and Atomic Operations”.

You can also avoid locking tables in some cases by using the user-level advisory lock functions GET_LOCK() and RELEASE_LOCK(). These locks are saved in a hash table in the server and implemented with pthread_mutex_lock() and pthread_mutex_unlock() for high speed. See Section 12.9.4, “Miscellaneous Functions”.

See Section 7.3.1, “Locking Methods”, for more information on locking policy.

You can lock all tables in all databases with read locks with the FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK statement. See Section, “FLUSH Syntax”. This is a very convenient way to get backups if you have a filesystem such as Veritas that can take snapshots in time.

Note: If you use ALTER TABLE on a locked table, it may become unlocked. See Section A.7.1, “Problems with ALTER TABLE.

13.4.6. SET TRANSACTION Syntax


This statement sets the transaction isolation level for the next transaction, globally, or for the current session.

The default behavior of SET TRANSACTION is to set the isolation level for the next (not yet started) transaction. If you use the GLOBAL keyword, the statement sets the default transaction level globally for all new connections created from that point on. Existing connections are unaffected. You need the SUPER privilege to do this. Using the SESSION keyword sets the default transaction level for all future transactions performed on the current connection.

For descriptions of each InnoDB transaction isolation level, see Section, “InnoDB and TRANSACTION ISOLATION LEVEL. InnoDB supports each of these levels in MySQL 5.0. The default level is REPEATABLE READ.

To set the initial default global isolation level for mysqld, use the --transaction-isolation option. See Section 5.2.1, “mysqld Command Options”.

13.4.7. XA Transactions

MySQL 5.0.3 and up provides server-side support for XA transactions. Currently, this support is available for the InnoDB storage engine. The MySQL XA implementation is based on the X/Open CAE document Distributed Transaction Processing: The XA Specification. This document is published by The Open Group and available at http://www.opengroup.org/public/pubs/catalog/c193.htm. Limitations of the current XA implementation are described in Section I.5, “Restrictions on XA Transactions”.

On the client side, there are no special requirements. The XA interface to a MySQL server consists of SQL statements that begin with the XA keyword. MySQL client programs must be able to send SQL statements and to understand the semantics of the XA statement interface. They do not need be linked against a recent client library. Older client libraries also will work.

Currently, among the MySQL Connectors, MySQL Connector/J 5.0.0 supports XA directly (by means of a class interface that handles the XA SQL statement interface for you).

XA supports distributed transactions; that is, the ability to allow multiple separate transactional resources to participate in a global transaction. Transactional resources often are RDBMSs but may be other kinds of resources.

A global transaction involves several actions that are transactional in themselves, but that all must either complete successfully as a group, or all be rolled back as a group. In essence, this extends ACID properties “up a level” so that multiple ACID transactions can be executed in concert as components of a global operation that also has ACID properties. (However, for a distributed transaction, you must use the SERIALIZABLE isolation level to achieve ACID properties. It is enough to use REPEATABLE READ for a non-distributed transaction, but not for a distributed transaction.)

Some examples of distributed transactions:

  • An application may act as an integration tool that combines a messaging service with an RDBMS. The application makes sure that transactions dealing with message sending, retrieval, and processing that also involve a transactional database all happen in a global transaction. You can think of this as “transactional email.

  • An application performs actions that involve different database servers, such as a MySQL server and an Oracle server (or multiple MySQL servers), where actions that involve multiple servers must happen as part of a global transaction, rather than as separate transactions local to each server.

  • A bank keeps account information in an RDBMS and distributes and receives money via automated teller machines (ATMs). It is necessary to ensure that ATM actions are correctly reflected in the accounts, but this cannot be done with the RDBMS alone. A global transaction manager integrates the ATM and database resources to ensure overall consistency of financial transactions.

Applications that use global transactions involve one or more Resource Managers and a Transaction Manager:

  • A Resource Manager (RM) provides access to transactional resources. A database server is one kind of resource manager. It must be possible to either commit or roll back transactions managed by the RM.

  • A Transaction Manager (TM) coordinates the transactions that are part of a global transaction. It communicates with the RMs that handle each of these transactions. The individual transactions within a global transaction are “branches” of the global transaction. Global transactions and their branches are identified by a naming scheme described later.

The MySQL implementation of XA MySQL enables a MySQL server to act as a Resource Manager that handles XA transactions within a global transaction. A client program that connects to the MySQL server acts as the Transaction Manager.

To carry out a global transaction, it is necessary to know which components are involved, and bring each component to a point when it can be committed or rolled back. Depending on what each component reports about its ability to succeed, they must all commit or roll back as an atomic group. That is, either all components must commit, or all components musts roll back. To manage a global transaction, it is necessary to take into account that any component or the connecting network might fail.

The process for executing a global transaction uses two-phase commit (2PC). This takes place after the actions performed by the branches of the global transaction have been executed.

  1. In the first phase, all branches are prepared. That is, they are told by the TM to get ready to commit. Typically, this means each RM that manages a branch records the actions for the branch in stable storage. The branches indicate whether they are able to do this, and these results are used for the second phase.

  2. In the second phase, the TM tells the RMs whether to commit or roll back. If all branches indicated when they were prepared that they will be able to commit, all branches are told to commit. If any branch indicated when it was prepared that it will not be able to commit, all branches are told to roll back.

In some cases, a global transaction might use one-phase commit (1PC). For example, when a Transaction Manager finds that a global transaction consists of only one transactional resource (that is, a single branch), that resource can be told to prepare and commit at the same time. XA Transaction SQL Syntax

To perform XA transactions in MySQL, use the following statements:







For XA START, the JOIN and RESUME clauses are not supported.

For XA END the SUSPEND [FOR MIGRATE] clause is not supported.

Each XA statement begins with the XA keyword, and most of them require an xid value. An xid is an XA transaction identifier. It indicates which transaction the statement applies to. xid values are supplied by the client, or generated by the MySQL server. An xid value has from one to three parts:

xid: gtrid [, bqual [, formatID ]]

gtrid is a global transaction identifier, bqual is a branch qualifier, and formatID is a number that identifies the format used by the gtrid and bqual values. As indicated by the syntax, bqual and formatID are optional. The default bqual value is '' if not given. The default formatID value is 1 if not given.

gtrid and bqual must be string literals, each up to 64 bytes (not characters) long. gtrid and bqual can be specified in several ways. You can use a quoted string ('ab'), hex string (0x6162, X'ab'), or bit value (b'nnnn').

formatID is an unsigned integer.

The gtrid and bqual values are interpreted in bytes by the MySQL server's underlying XA support routines. However, while an SQL statement containing an XA statement is being parsed, the server works with some specific character set. To be safe, write gtrid and bqual as hex strings.

xid values typically are generated by the Transaction Manager. Values generated by one TM must be different from values generated by other TMs. A given TM must be able to recognize its own xid values in a list of values returned by the XA RECOVER statement.

XA START xid starts an XA transaction with the given xid value. Each XA transaction must have a unique xid value, so the value must not currently be used by another XA transaction. Uniqueness is assessed using the gtrid and bqual values. All following XA statements for the XA transaction must be specified using the same xid value as that given in the XA START statement. If you use any of those statements but specify an xid value that does not correspond to some existing XA transaction, an error occurs.

One or more XA transactions can be part of the same global transaction. All XA transactions within a given global transaction must use the same gtrid value in the xid value. For this reason, gtrid values must be globally unique so that there is no ambiguity about which global transaction a given XA transaction is part of. The bqual part of the xid value must be different for each XA transaction within a global transaction. (The requirement that bqual values be different is a limitation of the current MySQL XA implementation. It is not part of the XA specification.)

The XA RECOVER statement returns information for those XA transactions on the MySQL server that are in the PREPARED state. (See Section, “XA Transaction States”.) The output includes a row for each such XA transaction on the server, regardless of which client started it.

XA RECOVER output rows look like this (for an example xid value consisting of the parts 'abc', 'def', and 7):

mysql> XA RECOVER;
| formatID | gtrid_length | bqual_length | data   |
|        7 |            3 |            3 | abcdef |

The output columns have the following meanings:

  • formatID is the formatID part of the transaction xid

  • gtrid_length is the length in bytes of the gtrid part of the xid

  • bqual_length is the length in bytes of the bqual part of the xid

  • data is the concatenation of the gtrid and bqual parts of the xid XA Transaction States

An XA transaction progresses through the following states:

  1. Use XA START to start an XA transaction and put it in the ACTIVE state.

  2. For an ACTIVE XA transaction, issue the SQL statements that make up the transaction, and then issue an XA END statement. XA END puts the transaction in the IDLE state.

  3. For an IDLE XA transaction, you can issue either an XA PREPARE statement or an XA COMMIT ... ONE PHASE statement:

    • XA PREPARE puts the transaction in the PREPARED state. An XA RECOVER statement at this point will include the transaction's xid value in its output, because XA RECOVER lists all XA transactions that are in the PREPARED state.

    • XA COMMIT ... ONE PHASE prepares and commits the transaction. The xid value will not be listed by XA RECOVER because the transaction terminates.

  4. For a PREPARED XA transaction, you can issue an XA COMMIT statement to commit and terminate the transaction, or XA ROLLBACK to roll back and terminate the transaction.

Here is a simple XA transaction that inserts a row into a table as part of a global transaction:

mysql> XA START 'xatest';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> INSERT INTO mytable (i) VALUES(10);
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.04 sec)

mysql> XA END 'xatest';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> XA PREPARE 'xatest';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> XA COMMIT 'xatest';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Within the context of a given client connection, XA transactions and local (non-XA) transactions are mutually exclusive. For example, if XA START has been issued to begin an XA transaction, a local transaction cannot be started until the XA transaction has been committed or rolled back. Conversely, if a local transaction has been started with START TRANSACTION, no XA statements can be used until the transaction has been committed or rolled back.