MySQL: ibdata files do not shrink on database deletion [innodb]

One very interesting thing I noticed with MySQL was that if you delete a database, ibdata file doesn’t shrink by that much space to minimize disk usage. I deleted the database and checked usage of /usr/local/mysql/var folder and noticed that ibdata file is still the same size. So the problem I face now is, how do I claim back this space?

After searching for a bit on google about this problem, apparently only way you can do that is by exporting your mysql databases, delete ibdata1 file, import databases. This creates new ibdata file with correct space usage. Atleast there is a way to get around this issue. But honestly, too much pain on production boxes where we might be trying to remove old databases to reclaim some of the hard drive space.

An preventive measure one can use is to use option: innodb_file_per_table (‘put innodb_file_per_table’ in your my.cnf file under [mysqld] section). This will create individual files for tables under database directory. So now when I delete the database, all the space is returned since the directory is now deleted along with database along with all the tables inside the directory. In my test after you put option innodb_file_per_table your my.cnf, you will have to still do export/import to be able to minimize disk usage and have the ability to delete database at your leisure without worrying about reclaiming the disk space. Here are the steps I took. DISCLAIMER: Please make backup of your data and use following steps at your own risk. Doing it on test server is HIGHLY recommended. Please don’t come back and tell me that you lost your data because you followed my steps. They work for me and they may not work for you!

That said, here are the steps:

  1. Add innodb_file_per_table in your my.cnf file under [mysqld] section
  2. run following commands at the prompt. Your path to binaries might be different.
  3. #note: following assumes you are logged in as root
    mkdir -p /temp #temp dir to save our sql dump
    #lets make a backup of current database. -p is used if there is pw set
    /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqldump -R -q -p --all-databases > /temp/all.sql
    #stop mysql so we can remove all the files in the dir
    /etc/init.d/mysql stop
    rm -fr /usr/local/mysql/var/* #remove all the files
    /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql_install_db #install default dbs
    #change ownership so mysql user can read/write to/from files
    chown -R mysql.mysql /usr/local/mysql/var/
    #start mysql so we can import our dump
    /etc/init.d/mysql start
    #note there is no -p since defaults don't have mysql pw set
    /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql < /temp/all.sql
    /etc/init.d/mysql restart

This should be all you need to do. At this point when you remove a database, it will delete the directory of the db and all the data contained within which in turn will give you your disk space back.

REMEMBER: Backup your data and be smart about using code found on internet. If you don’t know what you are doing, hire a consultant who does.

30 thoughts on “MySQL: ibdata files do not shrink on database deletion [innodb]

  1. Chris Barber

    Worked pretty awesomely! After restoring the data, I had some issues with authenticating to the server, so I logged in to MySQL and flushed the privileges, then restarted MySQL:

    $ mysql -u root -p
    Enter password:
    mysql> flush privileges;
    Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
    mysql> quit
    $ /etc/init.d/mysql restart

    Thanks for the help!

  2. Chris Wiegand

    You can also do a ‘ALTER TABLE blah ENGINE=MyISAM; ALTER TABLE blah ENGINE=InnoDB;’ and it will effectively recreate the table in InnoDB (although you’ll need to script out any InnoDB features that aren’t supported in MyISAM like foreign keys and reapply then).

  3. Dario Souza

    Better yet, do an ALTER TABLE ENGINE=InnoDB; directly without converting it to/from myisam. That prevents you from losing foreign key constraints and some datatype conversions (int(12) to int(10) for instance) when you convert it to myisam.

  4. Me

    Seems to be even easier: just add that option to my.cnf and run “mysqloptimize –all-databases” and all your InnoDB tables should be converted to .idb files. Next, I’ll try to remove/unconfigure the ibdata file(s).

  5. Marijorge

    I´ve understood about the procedure above. But I have a question. Can I change the directory of creation .ibd files?

  6. Cory

    Along the lines of what “Me” said… Make the change to my.cnf, restart mysql, but then run a query similar to:
    OPTIMIZE NO_WRITE_TO_BINLOG TABLE [table1, table2 … etc]

    This will optimize all your tables and recreate the ibd files under their respective db directories.

    I’m not sure at this point if you could just delete the main ibdata file because I didn’t try. Anyone else care to give it a shot?

  7. carl

    you can’t delete the ibdata* files because they include innodb’s shared resources, in addition to any tables that might be stored there. if you delete those files, then your tables that you moved to their own files will no longer work.

  8. Earnie

    Thank-you; a life saver. The only issue I has was I needed to add the -p on the import step and enter an empty password. Well, that, and I nearly ran out of disk space trying to backup the DB. I’m down from 65% use to 20% used; again thanks for the powerfully helpful page.

    Good success to all,
    Earnie –

  9. colnector

    Read Cory’s note above.
    If you use phpMyAdmin you can easily mark the tables you want and choose to optimize them. This’ll clear the extra space abused by the ibd file.
    Don’t forget to add innodb_file_per_table in your my.cnf file under [mysqld] section and restart the server.

  10. adejo joseph

    good day sir/ma.i am joseph adejo from nigeria. a student of aptech world wide .i will love to know more about D.B.A becouse i have an interest to pursue it as a career.
    please i will need guide lines from you to know how and what to be doing as an upcoming D.B.A.

  11. Shahryar Ghazi

    after deleting large number of records or dropping tables you should optimize the tables (to defrag)

    any new inserts will be inserted in the empty space made available by the previous drop/delete statements, so I guess there is not need to worry about data file size

  12. Mike

    So what if I copied or moved all my .ibd files, then


    then did a full mysqldump, erased the huge innodb data file, then restored from the dump, then tried to import the .ibd files with


  13. vlastikw

    Seems to be even easier: just add that option to my.cnf(my.ini) and run “mysqlcheck -u root –optimize –all-databases” and all your InnoDB tables should be converted to .idb files. Next, I’ll try to remove/unconfigure the ibdata file(s).

  14. joe

    I follow all the instructions: I have now the database directory with .idb files, but… I still have the idbdata1 big and growing, now is about 5 time the data. How is it possible that exists both idbdata1 and *.idb files, working together?

  15. Pingback: ibdata1 has grown to nearly 1GB. I need some solid advice here. - cPanel Forums

  16. Pingback: MySQL: ibdata files do not shrink on database deletion [innodb] | Technology: Learn and Share « Tech Notes of Kevin Duane

  17. Karl Schmidt

    There is another way — kind of sketchy, but it works for me YMMV.

    Change all the table types to myisam

    Verify there are no innodb tables left.

    turn of innodb with skip-innodb

    remove innodb files

    turn innodb back on

    Change table types back to innodb

    It is a real mess, but can be done on a working server with a short term risk due to the lack of ACID ..

    This has me looking at

  18. Starting Gate Solutions

    Just delete all your ib* files (after you backup of course) then restart and you’ll be good

  19. Gladys

    Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user
    friendliness and visual appearance. I must say that you’ve done a amazing job
    with this. In addition, the blog loads super quick for me
    on Firefox. Outstanding Blog!

  20. supreme clothing

    I am just commenting to let you understand of the amazing discovery my friend’s princess encountered viewing your web site. She even learned a wide variety of pieces, including what it’s like to possess a wonderful giving nature to make certain people effortlessly completely grasp specified problematic things. You truly exceeded visitors’ desires. Thank you for presenting such informative, dependable, informative and also cool guidance on the topic to Julie.

  21. pandora charms

    Thank you so much for providing individuals with such a marvellous opportunity to read articles and blog posts from this site. It is often so cool and as well , jam-packed with a great time for me and my office colleagues to search your web site on the least three times per week to read through the new things you have. Of course, I’m so always pleased with the excellent strategies you serve. Some 3 facts in this article are honestly the best we have had.

  22. dior sunglasses

    I together with my pals have been reading through the nice techniques on your web page and so unexpectedly came up with a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the blog owner for those secrets. Those young boys were as a result glad to learn them and have actually been loving those things. I appreciate you for genuinely quite accommodating as well as for finding such helpful useful guides most people are really wanting to be aware of. Our own honest regret for not saying thanks to earlier.

  23. minecraft

    you are truly a excellent webmaster. The website loading pace is
    incredible. It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    Also, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed a magnificent
    activity in this subject!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *