1.8.3.3 Constraints on Invalid Data

Before MySQL 5.0.2, MySQL is forgiving of illegal or improper data values and coerces them to legal values for data entry. In MySQL 5.0.2 and up, that remains the default behavior, but you can enable strict SQL mode to select more traditional treatment of bad values such that the server rejects them and aborts the statement in which they occur. Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

This section describes the default (forgiving) behavior of MySQL, as well as the strict SQL mode and how it differs.

If you are not using strict mode, then whenever you insert an incorrect value into a column, such as a NULL into a NOT NULL column or a too-large numeric value into a numeric column, MySQL sets the column to the best possible value instead of producing an error: The following rules describe in more detail how this works:

The reason for using the preceding rules in nonstrict mode is that we can't check these conditions until the statement has begun executing. We can't just roll back if we encounter a problem after updating a few rows, because the storage engine may not support rollback. The option of terminating the statement is not that good; in this case, the update would be half done, which is probably the worst possible scenario. In this case, it is better to do the best you can and then continue as if nothing happened.

In MySQL 5.0.2 and up, you can select stricter treatment of input values by using the STRICT_TRANS_TABLES or STRICT_ALL_TABLES SQL modes:

SET sql_mode = 'STRICT_TRANS_TABLES';
SET sql_mode = 'STRICT_ALL_TABLES';

STRICT_TRANS_TABLES enables strict mode for transactional storage engines, and also to some extent for nontransactional engines. It works like this:

For even stricter checking, enable STRICT_ALL_TABLES. This is the same as STRICT_TRANS_TABLES except that for nontransactional storage engines, errors abort the statement even for bad data in rows following the first row. This means that if an error occurs partway through a multiple-row insert or update for a nontransactional table, a partial update results. Earlier rows are inserted or updated, but those from the point of the error on are not. To avoid this for nontransactional tables, either use single-row statements or else use STRICT_TRANS_TABLES if conversion warnings rather than errors are acceptable. To avoid problems in the first place, do not use MySQL to check column content. It is safest (and often faster) to let the application ensure that it passes only legal values to the database.

With either of the strict mode options, you can cause errors to be treated as warnings by using INSERT IGNORE or UPDATE IGNORE rather than INSERT or UPDATE without IGNORE.