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Chapter 2. Storage Engines (Table Types)

One powerful aspect of MySQL that sets it apart from nearly every other database server is that it offers users many choices and options depending upon the user's environment. From the server point of view, its default configuration can be changed to run well on a wide range of hardware. At the application development level, you have a variety of data types to choose from when creating tables to store records. But what's even more unusual is that you can choose the type of table in which the records will be stored. You can even mix and match tables of different types in the same database!

Storage engines used to be called table types. From time to time we refer to them as table types when it's less awkward to do so.

In this chapter, we'll show the major differences between the storage engines and why those differences are important. We'll begin with a look at locking and concurrency as well as transactions—two concepts that are critical to understanding some of the major differences between the various engines. Then we'll discuss the process of selecting the right one for your applications. Finally, we'll look deeper into each of the storage engines and get a feel for their features, storage formats, strengths and weaknesses, limitations, and so on.

Before drilling down into the details, there are a few general concepts we need to cover because they apply across all the storage engines. Some aren't even specific to MySQL at all; they're classic computer science problems that just happen to occur frequently in the world of multiuser database servers.

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