Cover by Robin Nixon

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Indexes

As things stand, the table classics works, and MySQL won’t have any problem searching it—until it grows to more than a couple of hundred rows, that is. At that point, database accesses will get slower and slower with every new row added, because MySQL has to search through every row whenever a query is issued. This is like searching through every book in a library whenever you need to look something up.

Of course, you don’t have to search libraries that way, because they have either a card index system or, most likely, a database of their own.

And the same goes for MySQL—at the expense of a slight overhead in memory and disk space, you can create a “card index” for a table that MySQL will use to conduct lightning-fast searches.

Creating an Index

The way to achieve fast searches is to add an index, either when creating a table or at any time afterwards. But the decision is not so simple. For example, there are different index types, such as a regular INDEX, PRIMARY KEY, and FULLTEXT. Also, you must decide which columns require an index, a judgment that requires you to predict whether you will be searching any of the data in those columns. Indexes can also get complicated, because you can combine multiple columns in one index. And even when you’ve gotten to grips with all of that, you still have the option of reducing index size by limiting the amount of each column to be indexed.

If we imagine the searches that may be made on the classics table, it becomes apparent that all of ...

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