Tackling MySQL Error 1117 – SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_TOO_MANY_FIELDS): A Guide to Resolving “Too Many Columns” Issues

When managing MySQL databases, you may encounter Error 1117 – SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_TOO_MANY_FIELDS), which indicates that a table has been created or altered with too many columns. This message is MySQL’s way of enforcing limits to ensure database performance and reliability.

Understanding the Error

MySQL has a hard limit on the number of columns you can have in a table. This limit can vary based on the storage engine used (e.g., InnoDB, MyISAM) and the row format. For example, InnoDB has a limit of 1017 columns for tables that use the REDUNDANT or COMPACT row format. However, when using the DYNAMIC or COMPRESSED row format, the limit is not strictly the number of columns but rather the maximum row size, which is slightly less than 8KB for the default page size of 16KB.

The error occurs in situations such as:

  • Attempting to create a table with more columns than the storage engine limit.
  • Adding columns to an existing table that already has a high number of columns.

Diagnosing the Problem

To diagnose the issue, you should:

  1. Check the storage engine and row format of the table to understand the specific limits that apply.
  2. Use DESCRIBE or SHOW COLUMNS to see the current number of columns in the table.
DESCRIBE your_table_name;


SHOW COLUMNS FROM your_table_name;

Fixing the Error

Here are some strategies to resolve Error 1117:

Example 1: Reducing the Number of Columns

If you’ve hit the column limit, consider whether all columns are necessary. You can drop unnecessary columns to stay within the limit:

ALTER TABLE your_table_name DROP COLUMN column_to_remove;

Example 2: Changing the Storage Engine or Row Format

If you’re using InnoDB with the REDUNDANT or COMPACT row format, switching to the DYNAMIC or COMPRESSED row format might help:


However, this will not increase the number of columns you can have; it will only affect the maximum row size.

Example 3: Normalizing the Database

Consider normalizing your database design. This could involve splitting the table into multiple related tables:

    column1 DATA_TYPE,
    column2 DATA_TYPE,

    part1_id INT,
    FOREIGN KEY (part1_id) REFERENCES part1(id),
    columnX DATA_TYPE,

Example 4: Using a Different Data Type

For columns storing sets of values, use SET or ENUM data types, or serialize the data into a JSON or TEXT field, and handle the complexity within your application code.

Example 5: Reviewing the Application Design

If none of the above solutions are feasible, it may be necessary to review the overall application design. It’s rare for a well-designed table to require so many columns, and this might indicate an underlying issue with the database schema.


MySQL Error 1117 is a clear sign that you need to reconsider your table structure. By understanding the limits of MySQL and carefully planning your database schema, you can avoid this error. Whether by normalizing your database, changing the storage engine or row format, or reducing the number of columns, there are several paths to resolving “Too Many Columns” issues in MySQL.

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