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How often should you use OPTIMIZE TABLE?

Many times I’ve heard people advise on “best practices” for a MySQL database. This often includes routine maintenance, such as “you should run OPTIMIZE TABLE on all of your InnoDB tables once a week to defragment them for better performance.”

But this advice is unsubstantiated and could even be detrimental. Here are some of the obvious problems that I can think of:

  • The optimized table compacts the primary key (clustered index) to its default 15/16ths fill factor per page. But other indexes will be built in pseudo-random order and are likely to end up just as fragmented afterwards as before. Which indexes are more important for performance? Maybe the primary key is just a dummy value that’s not even used, and the secondary indexes are the ones that would benefit from compacting.
  • Suppose the primary key is the important one, and SELECT queries will perform more quickly if it’s defragmented. Why does it …
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