Tackling MySQL Error 1070 (ER_TOO_MANY_KEY_PARTS): Limiting Key Parts to Meet Maximum Allowance

MySQL Error 1070 is raised when you try to create an index with more key parts than the storage engine allows. The error message is as follows:

Error 1070 - SQLSTATE: 42000 (ER_TOO_MANY_KEY_PARTS) Too many key parts specified; max %d parts allowed

In this message, %d represents the maximum number of key parts that the storage engine supports for an index. This limit is typically 16 for the InnoDB and MyISAM storage engines. Let’s explore how to diagnose and resolve this error:

Review Index Creation Statements

Examine the SQL statement that is attempting to create the index. Ensure that the number of columns specified in the index does not exceed the storage engine’s limit.

You are trying to create a composite index on a table with 17 columns, which exceeds the typical limit of 16.

Sample Code:

CREATE INDEX part_index ON parts (col1, col2, col3, ..., col17);

To fix this, you would need to reduce the number of columns in the index to 16 or fewer.

Prioritize Key Parts for Composite Indexes

Determine which columns are most critical for the index and prioritize them. It’s often unnecessary to include many columns in a single index.

You are creating an index for a query that filters on multiple columns, but not all columns are equally important for query optimization.

Sample Code:

-- Original index creation attempt with too many columns
CREATE INDEX part_index ON parts (col1, col2, ..., col17);

-- Revised index with prioritized columns
CREATE INDEX part_index ON parts (col1, col2, col3, col4);

Choose the columns that will provide the most significant performance benefit.

Consider Index Length for VARCHAR Columns

For VARCHAR columns, specify a prefix length to limit the index size if the full length is not required.

Creating an index on a VARCHAR(255) column, but the first 10 characters are usually sufficient for uniqueness.

Sample Code:

CREATE INDEX part_index ON parts (col1(10), col2(10), col3(10), ..., col16(10));

This creates a composite index using only the first 10 characters of each VARCHAR column.

Use Multiple Indexes Instead of a Single Composite Index

If multiple columns are needed for different queries, consider creating separate indexes for each query pattern instead of one large composite index.

Different queries filter on different sets of columns.

Sample Code:

-- Instead of one composite index
CREATE INDEX part_index ON parts (col1, col2, col3, col4, col5);

-- Create separate indexes for different query patterns
CREATE INDEX part_index1 ON parts (col1, col2);
CREATE INDEX part_index2 ON parts (col3, col4);

This allows you to have multiple efficient indexes tailored to specific queries.

Check for Existing Indexes

Sometimes, the error occurs because there are already several indexes on the table, and the new index would exceed the limit when combined with existing ones.

The table already has multiple indexes, and adding another composite index would exceed the limit of key parts.

Sample Code:


Review the output and adjust your indexing strategy accordingly.

By carefully considering the design of your indexes and staying within the limits set by MySQL’s storage engines, you can avoid Error 1070 and maintain an efficient database schema. Remember that indexes come with a maintenance cost, so it’s essential to strike a balance between the number of indexes and their benefits to query performance. Always test changes in a non-production environment first to gauge their impact. If you’re still unsure about the best approach, consulting a database specialist may be beneficial.

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