Tackling MySQL Error 1118: Row Size Too Large

When working with MySQL, you might come across Error 1118 – SQLSTATE: 42000 (ER_TOO_BIG_ROWSIZE), which concerns the maximum row size constraints of InnoDB tables. This error indicates that the combined size of the data fields in a row exceeds the row size limit for the table. Understanding and resolving this error is critical for database integrity and performance. Let’s dive into the causes of this error and provide practical solutions to fix it.

Understanding Error 1118

InnoDB has a maximum row size limit of approximately 8126 bytes for the combined sizes of all columns. This limit excludes BLOB, TEXT, and VARCHAR fields, as these are stored separately. However, if you define a row with many large VARCHAR fields, you could still exceed the limit because a certain amount of space is reserved for these columns within the row.

Diagnosing the Issue

To diagnose this issue, review the table schema to identify columns that contribute significantly to the row size. Pay special attention to VARCHAR and CHAR fields, as these can quickly consume space.

Use the SHOW CREATE TABLE command to view the table’s definition:

SHOW CREATE TABLE your_table_name\G

Resolving the Error

Here are several methods to resolve Error 1118, with examples and sample code:

1. Changing Column Types to TEXT or BLOB

For columns that store large amounts of text, consider changing the column type to TEXT or BLOB, as these types store data outside of the row buffer.


If you have a VARCHAR(5000) column, change it to TEXT:

ALTER TABLE your_table_name MODIFY your_column_name TEXT;

2. Using the DYNAMIC or COMPRESSED Row Format

InnoDB tables support different row formats that affect how data is stored. Using the DYNAMIC or COMPRESSED row format can allow for larger row sizes.


To change the row format of a table to DYNAMIC:


3. Reducing the Number of Columns

If a table has too many columns, consider splitting the table into multiple related tables and establishing relationships using foreign keys.


Instead of having one wide table:

CREATE TABLE wide_table (
  data1 VARCHAR(255),
  data2 VARCHAR(255),
  -- many more VARCHAR columns

Split it into related tables:

CREATE TABLE main_table (
  data1 VARCHAR(255)

CREATE TABLE related_table (
  main_table_id INT,
  data2 VARCHAR(255),
  FOREIGN KEY (main_table_id) REFERENCES main_table(id)

4. Adjusting the innodb_page_size

For new installations, consider using a larger innodb_page_size if you anticipate needing wider rows.


Set the page size to 32KB in the MySQL configuration file (my.cnf or my.ini):


Please note that changing the innodb_page_size requires reinitializing the entire MySQL instance, and it is not applicable to existing tables.

5. Checking for Unused Columns

Remove any unnecessary columns that may be contributing to the large row size.


ALTER TABLE your_table_name DROP COLUMN unused_column_name;


Error 1118 in MySQL is a clear indicator that the table’s row size needs optimization. By converting large VARCHAR columns to TEXT or BLOB, using appropriate row formats, reducing the number of columns, adjusting the innodb_page_size, or removing unused columns, you can resolve this error. Always back up your database before making structural changes and test your changes in a development environment to ensure data integrity.

For further details on row formats and table optimization, consult the MySQL documentation on InnoDB row formats and InnoDB physical row structure.

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