Expanded Fast Index Creation

Percona has implemented several changes related to MySQL‘s fast index creation feature. This feature extends the ALTER TABLE command by adding a new clause that provides online index renaming capability, that is renaming indexes without rebuilding the whole table.

Enabling Expanded Fast Index Creation

Fast index creation was implemented in MySQL as a way to speed up the process of adding or dropping indexes on tables with many rows. However, cases have been found in which fast index creation creates an inconsistency between MySQL and InnoDB data dictionaries.

This feature implements a session variable that enables extended fast index creation. Besides optimizing DDL directly, expand_fast_index_creation may also optimize index access for subsequent DML statements because using it results in much less fragmented indexes.


A new option, --innodb-optimize-keys, was implemented in mysqldump. It changes the way InnoDB tables are dumped, so that secondary keys are created after loading the data, thus taking advantage of fast index creation. More specifically:

  • KEY, UNIQUE KEY, and CONSTRAINT clauses are omitted from CREATE TABLE statements corresponding to InnoDB tables.
  • An additional ALTER TABLE is issued after dumping the data, in order to create the previously omitted keys.


When ALTER TABLE requires a table copy, secondary keys are now dropped and recreated later, after copying the data. The following restrictions apply:

  • Only non-unique keys can be involved in this optimization.
  • If the table contains foreign keys, or a foreign key is being added as a part of the current ALTER TABLE statement, the optimization is disabled for all keys.
  • This optimization won’t work in case the index is dropped and added in the same ALTER TABLE statement because in that case MySQL copies the table.


Internally, OPTIMIZE TABLE is mapped to ALTER TABLE ... ENGINE=innodb for InnoDB tables. As a consequence, it now also benefits from fast index creation, with the same restrictions as for ALTER TABLE.


InnoDB fast index creation uses temporary files in tmpdir for all indexes being created. So make sure you have enough tmpdir space when using expand_fast_index_creation. It is a session variable, so you can temporarily switch it off if you are short on tmpdir space and/or don’t want this optimization to be used for a specific table.

There’s also a number of cases when this optimization is not applicable:
  • UNIQUE indexes in ALTER TABLE are ignored to enforce uniqueness where necessary when copying the data to a temporary table;
  • ALTER TABLE and OPTIMIZE TABLE always process tables containing foreign keys as if expand_fast_index_creation is OFF to avoid dropping keys that are part of a FOREIGN KEY constraint;
  • mysqldump –innodb-optimize-keys ignores foreign keys because InnoDB requires a full table rebuild on foreign key changes. So adding them back with a separate ALTER TABLE after restoring the data from a dump would actually make the restore slower;
  • mysqldump –innodb-optimize-keys ignores indexes on AUTO_INCREMENT columns, because they must be indexed, so it is impossible to temporarily drop the corresponding index;
  • mysqldump –innodb-optimize-keys ignores the first UNIQUE index on non-nullable columns when the table has no PRIMARY KEY defined, because in this case InnoDB picks such an index as the clustered one.

Version Specific Information

System Variables

variable expand_fast_index_creation
Command Line:Yes
Config File:No
Variable Type:Boolean
Default Value:OFF

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