Overcoming MySQL Error 1036: A Guide to Resolving ER_OPEN_AS_READONLY Tables

When working with MySQL, encountering Error 1036 – SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_OPEN_AS_READONLY) can be quite an obstacle. This error message, which states “Table ‘%s’ is read only,” indicates that MySQL is unable to write to the table because it has been locked in a read-only state. There are several reasons why a table might become read-only, and identifying the correct cause is key to solving the issue. This guide will provide you with a clear understanding of potential causes and solutions to help you get your database up and running smoothly again.

Understanding Error 1036 – SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_OPEN_AS_READONLY)

Error 1036 typically arises when a table that the database expects to be writable has been set to a read-only state. This can happen due to file system permissions, incorrect MySQL settings, or issues with the storage engine, among other reasons.

Diagnosing the Error

To effectively diagnose Error 1036, consider these common causes:

  1. File System Permissions: The MySQL server might lack the necessary write permissions on the table files.
  2. Read-Only File System: The file system or partition containing the MySQL data may be mounted as read-only.
  3. Storage Engine Issues: For MyISAM tables, the storage engine might have marked the table as read-only due to a crash or corruption.
  4. Incorrect MySQL Configuration: Certain MySQL configurations can inadvertently set tables to read-only.
  5. Operating System-Level Issues: External factors, such as disk errors or operating system permissions, can also cause this error.

Fixing the Error

Here are multiple examples and sample code to help you resolve Error 1036:

Example 1: Adjusting File Permissions

Check and modify the permissions of the table files in the MySQL data directory:

sudo chown -R mysql:mysql /var/lib/mysql/database_name
sudo chmod -R 660 /var/lib/mysql/database_name/table_name.*

Replace database_name and table_name with the actual names of your database and table.

Example 2: Remounting the File System

If the file system is read-only, remount it with write permissions using:

sudo mount -o remount,rw /partition

Replace /partition with the correct partition that your MySQL data resides on.

Example 3: Repairing MyISAM Tables

For MyISAM tables, use the myisamchk utility to repair the table:

myisamchk --recover /var/lib/mysql/database_name/table_name.MYI

Make sure to stop the MySQL server before running myisamchk to prevent further issues.

Example 4: Reviewing MySQL Configuration

Check the MySQL configuration for any settings that might set tables to read-only, such as:

grep 'read-only' /etc/mysql/my.cnf

If you find a read-only setting that should not be there, remove it and restart the MySQL server.

Example 5: Addressing Operating System-Level Issues

Look for disk errors using tools like fsck for Linux file systems or chkdsk for Windows. Always ensure you have backups before running these tools, as they can potentially lead to data loss.

After diagnosing and applying the appropriate solution, your tables should no longer be locked in a read-only state, and normal database operations can resume.


Error 1036 in MySQL can be a symptom of various underlying issues, but with a step-by-step approach to diagnosing and addressing the root cause, you can restore write access to your tables. Regularly check file permissions, monitor storage engine health, and ensure proper MySQL configuration to prevent this error from reoccurring. With the right knowledge and tools, overcoming Error 1036 is a manageable task that will help keep your database healthy and accessible.

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