1.8.3 How MySQL Deals with Constraints

1.8.3.1 PRIMARY KEY and UNIQUE Index Constraints
1.8.3.2 FOREIGN KEY Constraints
1.8.3.3 Constraints on Invalid Data
1.8.3.4 ENUM and SET Constraints

MySQL enables you to work both with transactional tables that permit rollback and with nontransactional tables that do not. Because of this, constraint handling is a bit different in MySQL than in other DBMSs. We must handle the case when you have inserted or updated a lot of rows in a nontransactional table for which changes cannot be rolled back when an error occurs.

The basic philosophy is that MySQL Server tries to produce an error for anything that it can detect while parsing a statement to be executed, and tries to recover from any errors that occur while executing the statement. We do this in most cases, but not yet for all.

The options MySQL has when an error occurs are to stop the statement in the middle or to recover as well as possible from the problem and continue. By default, the server follows the latter course. This means, for example, that the server may coerce invalid values to the closest valid values.

Several SQL mode options are available to provide greater control over handling of bad data values and whether to continue statement execution or abort when errors occur. Using these options, you can configure MySQL Server to act in a more traditional fashion that is like other DBMSs that reject improper input. The SQL mode can be set globally at server startup to affect all clients. Individual clients can set the SQL mode at runtime, which enables each client to select the behavior most appropriate for its requirements. See Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

The following sections describe how MySQL Server handles different types of constraints.