Troubleshooting MySQL Error 1005 (ER_CANT_CREATE_TABLE)

Encountering Error 1005 in MySQL can be a frustrating experience, but understanding the common causes can help you diagnose and resolve the issue efficiently. This error typically indicates that MySQL cannot create a table, which can be due to various reasons such as foreign key constraints, mismatched data types, or storage engine discrepancies. Let’s explore some of the possible causes and solutions to fix this error.

Understanding the Error Message

The full error message is usually in the format Error 1005 - SQLSTATE: HY000 (ER_CANT_CREATE_TABLE) Can't create table '%s' (errno: %d). Here, %s is the placeholder for the table name, and %d is the placeholder for the specific error number, which can provide more insight into the issue.

Common Causes and Fixes

Foreign Key Constraints

One of the most common causes of Error 1005 is related to foreign key constraints. When creating a table with a foreign key, it’s crucial that the foreign key column has the same data type and length as the corresponding column in the referenced table. If there’s a mismatch, MySQL will refuse to create the table.


    id INT NOT NULL,
    PRIMARY KEY (id)

    id INT NOT NULL,
    parent_id INT NOT NULL,
    FOREIGN KEY (parent_id) REFERENCES parent(id)

Ensure that both id and parent_id have the same data type and attributes. If is UNSIGNED, then child.parent_id should also be UNSIGNED.

Storage Engine Compatibility

Another scenario that could trigger Error 1005 is when the storage engines for the tables involved are incompatible. For instance, if you’re trying to create a foreign key relationship between an InnoDB table and a MyISAM table, you’ll encounter this error because MyISAM doesn’t support foreign keys.

Make sure that both tables use the same storage engine, preferably InnoDB, which supports foreign key constraints.

Permissions and File Issues

Sometimes, the error can arise from file system permissions or issues where the destination file exists but is not writable. It’s essential to ensure that the MySQL server has the necessary permissions to create files in the database directory.

Check the file system permissions and make sure that the MySQL server process has write access to the data directory.

Syntax Errors

A less common but possible trigger for Error 1005 is a syntax error in your SQL statement. This could be a typo, incorrect table or column names, or a misconfigured table definition.

Carefully review your SQL statement for any syntax errors and correct them before attempting to create the table again.


To diagnose and fix MySQL Error 1005, you should:

  1. Verify that foreign key columns match in data type and size.
  2. Confirm that both tables use a compatible storage engine.
  3. Check file system permissions for the MySQL server.
  4. Review the SQL statement for any potential syntax errors.

By methodically checking these aspects, you should be able to resolve the Error 1005 and successfully create your table in MySQL.

Remember, understanding the specific errno provided in the error message can also be helpful in diagnosing the problem. If you’re unsure about the error number, you can refer to the MySQL error message reference for more details.

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