How to diagnose errors in the MySQL error log

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I frequently see questions about how to understand the nature of errors in MySQL’s error log. Now, there is a lot of complexity to this — the flowchart would be quite large, as with any nontrivial piece of software. But there is one particular class of errors that is relatively easy to diagnose, if you pay close attention to the error message.

Often an error has a little number in it, as in this example from our forums:

The gem in all of that mess is this bit: (Errcode: 28). Now, MySQL includes a little perror utility to translate this into something a human can understand:

That’s the key to understanding what really happened. MySQL created a temporary table, using the MyISAM storage engine, and when the disk filled up, MyISAM got an error. Little-known secret: MyISAM doesn’t handle a disk-full error gracefully 😉

Sometimes I’ve seen people having trouble with error codes that they don’t believe. Good examples are error 13 (permission denied) or 2 (No such file or directory). The typical reaction is “but it certainly has permission!” or “I can see the file/directory myself, of course it exists!” In cases such as these you need to dig more deeply. The error code is not wrong, I promise you. If it says permission is denied, then permission is denied; there is no bug — that error comes from the operating system. Typical causes are things like SELinux or AppArmor interfering.

So, if you see an error code, try to diagnose with that first. It’s often the easiest route to a solution.

PS: You may wish to get a copy of MySQL Troubleshooting by Sveta Smirnova — I have not read it yet, but I’ve heard really good things about it.

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Baron Schwartz

Baron is the lead author of High Performance MySQL. He is a former Percona employee.

Insight for DBAs, Percona Software


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