Tackling MySQL Error 1015: Strategies for Diagnosing and Resolving File Locking Issues

When working with MySQL, encountering Error 1015 can be a sign of underlying issues related to file locking mechanisms. This error code, SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_CANT_LOCK), indicates that MySQL cannot lock a file necessary for operation. The error message is often accompanied by an error number that can provide insight into the specific problem. In this guide, we’ll discuss common causes for this error and provide examples and sample code to help you diagnose and fix the issue at hand.

Understanding Error 1015

MySQL Error 1015 is related to the inability of the system to lock a file that MySQL needs to read or write. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Filesystem Permissions: The MySQL server might not have the necessary permissions to access or modify the file.
  • InnoDB Recovery Process: An incomplete recovery process can leave InnoDB in a read-only state, preventing file locking.
  • File Corruption: Corruption within the database files can lead to locking errors.

Diagnosing and Fixing Error 1015

Check Filesystem Permissions

The first step is to ensure that the MySQL server has the appropriate permissions to access the files it needs. You can check and modify the ownership and permissions of the MySQL data directory with the following commands:

# Check current ownership and permissions
ls -ld /var/lib/mysql

# Set the correct ownership (assuming 'mysql' is the MySQL user and group)
sudo chown mysql:mysql /var/lib/mysql

# Set the correct permissions
sudo chmod 755 /var/lib/mysql

If the permissions are incorrect, adjusting them may resolve the error (source).

Address InnoDB Recovery Issues

If the error occurs after a crash or an incomplete recovery process, it might be necessary to address issues with the InnoDB engine. According to Plesk Support, InnoDB could be set to read-only mode due to an unfinished recovery process. You may need to check the MySQL error log for any indications of recovery-related messages and ensure that the recovery process completes successfully (source).

Repair File Corruption

File corruption can also cause locking issues. If you suspect corruption, consider running a check and repair using mysqlcheck:

# Check and repair all tables in all databases
mysqlcheck -u root -p --auto-repair --check --all-databases

You will be prompted for the MySQL root password. This command will check all tables for errors and attempt to repair them if necessary.

Monitor and Resolve File Locking Conflicts

In some cases, external processes might lock the files that MySQL needs to access. You can investigate which processes are holding locks using tools like lsof:

lsof /var/lib/mysql

This command lists all open files in the MySQL data directory and the processes using them. If you find a process that shouldn’t be locking the file, you may need to terminate it carefully.


Resolving MySQL Error 1015 requires a systematic approach to identify the root cause of the file locking issue. By checking filesystem permissions, ensuring that the InnoDB engine has completed its recovery process, repairing potential file corruption, and resolving any file locking conflicts, you can restore the normal operation of your MySQL server. Remember to always back up your data before attempting repairs and to perform maintenance during periods of low activity to minimize the impact on your users.

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