Multithreaded ALTER TABLE with pt-online-schema-change and myloader

multithreaded alter tablept-online-schema-change emulates the way that MySQL alters tables internally, but it works on a copy of the table you wish to alter. It executes INSERT statements to import the data, that runs in a single connection to fill the new table. In this repository, there is a script called that uses myloader to execute parallel INSERTs, instead of using pt-online-schema-change internal tooling, but it also uses a patched version of pt-online-schema-change.

Patch pt-online-schema-change

There are 2 changes that we needed to perform on pt-online-schema-change:

1- Be able to stop the execution after the copy of the table is created
2- Tell pt-online-schema-change that no data needs to be imported

We are adding the –no-data to tell pt-online-schema-change to do not import the data to the new table. pt-online-schema-change is able to stop the execution with –pause-file option. The patch file includes the code to stop the execution when –no-data and –pause-file is used.


The script is performing several tasks, the main ones are:

  • Creating a backup directory in a format that myloader is able to use.
  • Starting the pt-online-schema-change which is going to stop after creating the new table and triggers.
  • Start the myloader execution.
  • Resume pt-online-schema-change, after myloader finishes, to swap the tables.

Take into consideration that the script is not designed to support multi-column nor non-integer primary keys. Do not use it in production environments without testing it thoroughly.


A sysbench table with 10M rows was created to perform an alter table with “engine innodb” which is like an optimize table, I used these two executions to compare:

The chunk-size and the number of threads were variables to create these graphs:


pt-online-schema-change MySQL


In the next graph is the improvement in percentage:


myloader mysql


Use Cases

I consider that this method or strategy should be used on specific scenarios, as there are considerations when not to use it, for instance:

  • The pt-online-schema-change throttle mechanism will not slow down the insert, slaves might get behind.
  • As the intention is to use multiple threads, the server will receive more load and no mechanism in place to stop it.

Conclusion and Expectation

Basically, it is a pt-online-schema-change wrapper that uses myloader to perform the INSERTs in parallel which makes a faster alter table. It might be used when times need to be reduced and the load is not an issue.

I would like to see this implemented inside pt-online-schema-change as a possible strategy but until this happens, this might be an alternative.

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Comment (1)

  • laimisnd Reply


    A very interesting approach of using the parallel myloader.

    One question.
    How is the shared lock/lost delete handled if myloader is used?
    Forget if I am a bit rusty but this is pt-osc sql:

    You get the idea, lock + triggers + insert with ignore handles the concurency, lost delete mostly (but could be other phenomenas also).

    May 14, 2020 at 7:56 am

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