I’ve got a messages table in MySQL which records messages between users. Apart from the typical ids and message types (all integer types) I need to save the actual message text as either VARCHAR or TEXT. I’m setting a front-end limit of 3000 characters which means the messages would never be inserted into the db as longer than this.
Is there a rationale for going with either VARCHAR(3000) or TEXT? There’s something about just writing VARCHAR(3000) that feels somewhat counter-intuitive. I’ve been through other similar posts on Stack Overflow but would be good to get views specific to this type of common message storing.
BLOBmay by stored off the table with the table just having a pointer to the location of the actual storage. Where it is stored depends on lots of things like data size, columns size, row_format, and MySQL version.
VARCHARis stored inline with the table.
VARCHARis faster when the size is reasonable, the tradeoff of which would be faster depends upon your data and your hardware, you’d want to benchmark a real-world scenario with your data.
Can you predict how long the user input would be?
Max Length: variable, up to 65,535 bytes (64KB)
Case: user name, email, country, subject, password
Max Length: 65,535 bytes (64KB)
Case: messages, emails, comments, formatted text, html, code, images, links
Max Length: 16,777,215 bytes (16MB)
Case: large json bodies, short to medium length books, csv strings
Max Length: 4,294,967,29 bytes (4GB)
Case: textbooks, programs, years of logs files, harry potter and the goblet of fire, scientific research logging
There’s more information on this question.
Just to clarify the best practice:
Text format messages should almost always be stored as TEXT (they end up being arbitrarily long)
String attributes should be stored as VARCHAR (the destination user name, the subject, etc…).
I understand that you’ve got a front end limit, which is great until it isn’t. *grin* The trick is to think of the DB as separate from the applications that connect to it. Just because one application puts a limit on the data, doesn’t mean that the data is intrinsically limited.
What is it about the messages themselves that forces them to never be more then 3000 characters? If it’s just an arbitrary application constraint (say, for a text box or something), use a
TEXT field at the data layer.
Disclaimer: I’m not a MySQL expert … but this is my understanding of the issues.
I think TEXT is stored outside the mysql row, while I think VARCHAR is stored as part of the row. There is a maximum row length for mysql rows .. so you can limit how much other data you can store in a row by using the VARCHAR.
Also due to VARCHAR forming part of the row, I suspect that queries looking at that field will be slightly faster than those using a TEXT chunk.
Short answer: No practical, performance, or storage, difference.
There is essentially no difference (in MySQL) between
VARCHAR(3000) (or any other large limit) and
TEXT. The former will truncate at 3000 characters; the latter will truncate at 65535 bytes. (I make a distinction between bytes and characters because a character can take multiple bytes.)
For smaller limits in
VARCHAR, there are some advantages over
- “smaller” means 191, 255, 512, 767, or 3072, etc, depending on version, context, and
INDEXesare limited in how big a column can be indexed. (767 or 3072 bytes; this is version and settings dependent)
- Intermediate tables created by complex
SELECTsare handled in two different ways — MEMORY (faster) or MyISAM (slower). When ‘large’ columns are involved, the slower technique is automatically picked. (Significant changes coming in version 8.0; so this bullet item is subject to change.)
- Related to the previous item, all
TEXTdatatypes (as opposed to
VARCHAR) jump straight to MyISAM. That is,
TINYTEXTis automatically worse for generated temp tables than the equivalent
VARCHAR. (But this takes the discussion in a third direction!)
Rebuttal to other answers
The original question asked one thing (which datatype to use); the accepted answer answered something else (off-record storage). That answer is now out of date.
When this thread was started and answered, there were only two “row formats” in InnoDB. Soon afterwards, two more formats (
COMPRESSED) were introduced.
The storage location for
VARCHAR() is based on size, not on name of datatype. For an updated discussion of on/off-record storage of large text/blob columns, see this .
The preceding answers don’t insist enough on the main problem: even in very simple queries like
(SELECT t2.* FROM t1, t2 WHERE t2.id = t1.id ORDER BY t1.id)
a temporary table can be required, and if a
VARCHAR field is involved, it is converted to a
CHAR field in the temporary table. So if you have in your table say 500 000 lines with a
VARCHAR(65000) field, this column alone will use 6.5*5*10^9 byte. Such temp tables can’t be handled in memory and are written to disk. The impact can be expected to be catastrophic.
Source (with metrics): https://nicj.net/mysql-text-vs-varchar-performance/
(This refers to the handling of
VARCHAR in “standard”(?) MyISAM storage engine. It may be different in others, e.g., InnoDB.)
Varchar is for small data like email addresses, while Text is for much bigger data like news articles, Blob for binary data such as images.
The performance of Varchar is more powerful because it runs completely from memory, but this will not be the case if data is too big like
varchar(4000) for example.
Text, on the other hand, does not stick to memory and is affected by disk performance, but you can avoid that by separating text data in a separate table and apply a left join query to retrieve text data.
Blob is much slower so use it only if you don’t have much data like 10000 images which will cost 10000 records.
Follow these tips for maximum speed and performance:
Use varchar for name, titles, emails
Use Text for large data
Separate text in different tables
Use Left Join queries on an ID such as a phone number
If you are going to use Blob apply the same tips as in Text
This will make queries cost milliseconds on tables with data >10 M and size up to 10GB guaranteed.
There is a HUGE difference between VARCHAR and TEXT. While VARCHAR fields can be indexed, TEXT fields cannot. VARCHAR type fields are stored inline while TEXT are stored offline, only pointers to TEXT data is actually stored in the records.
If you have to index your field for faster search, update or delete than go for VARCHAR, no matter how big. A VARCHAR(10000000) will never be the same as a TEXT field bacause these two data types are different in nature.
- If you use you field only for archiving
- you don’t care about data
- you care about speed but you will use the operator
‘%LIKE%’ in your search query so indexing will not help much
can’t predict a limit of the data length
than go for TEXT.