Navigating MySQL Error 1175: Safely Updating Tables with Key Constraints

Encountering Error 1175 – SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_UPDATE_WITHOUT_KEY_IN_SAFE_MODE) in MySQL can be a stumbling block if you’re not familiar with safe update mode. This error occurs when you attempt to execute an UPDATE command without specifying a WHERE clause that uses a key column, while the safe update mode is enabled. This mode is designed to prevent accidental updates to multiple rows that could potentially lead to data loss.

Understanding the Error

Safe update mode is a safety feature in MySQL, typically enabled by default in clients like MySQL Workbench. When this mode is on, MySQL requires that any UPDATE or DELETE operation includes a WHERE clause that uses a key column (usually a primary key or unique index) to ensure that the command affects only the intended rows.

Diagnosing the Problem

To diagnose the issue, check the following:

  1. Review the Query: Ensure that your UPDATE statement includes a WHERE clause with a condition on a key column.
  2. Check Key Columns: Verify that the columns used in the WHERE clause are indeed key columns (part of a primary key or unique index).

Fixing the Error

Here are multiple ways to address Error 1175:

  1. Modify the Query:
    Update your query to include a WHERE clause that uses a key column. For example:
   -- Assuming `id` is a key column
   UPDATE your_table SET column_name = 'new_value' WHERE id = 1;
  1. Disable Safe Update Mode Temporarily:
    If you understand the risks and need to perform an update without a key column in the WHERE clause, you can temporarily disable safe update mode by setting sql_safe_updates to 0.
   SET sql_safe_updates = 0;
   UPDATE your_table SET column_name = 'new_value' WHERE non_key_column = 'condition';
   SET sql_safe_updates = 1; -- Re-enable safe update mode after the operation
  1. Add a Key Column:
    If your table lacks a key column, consider adding a primary key or unique index to facilitate safe updates.
   ALTER TABLE your_table ADD PRIMARY KEY (id);
  1. Use LIMIT:
    If you’re updating a single row and know the specific target, you can use the LIMIT clause to restrict the number of rows affected.
   UPDATE your_table SET column_name = 'new_value' WHERE non_key_column = 'condition' LIMIT 1;
  1. Review Table Design:
    Ensure that your table design includes appropriate primary keys or unique indexes that allow for safe updates.


Error 1175 (ER_UPDATE_WITHOUT_KEY_IN_SAFE_MODE) is a protective measure in MySQL to avoid unintended mass updates. By carefully crafting your UPDATE statements with key columns in the WHERE clause, you can both comply with safe update mode and maintain data integrity. Always be cautious when disabling safe update mode, and ensure that your table design supports safe and efficient data operations.

For further insights into safe update mode and MySQL error codes, you can visit resources like MySQL error code: 1175 during UPDATE in MySQL Workbench for practical examples and MySQL Server Error Codes and Messages for official documentation.

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