MySQL & PHP Performance Optimization Tips


25 Jun 2007

In high performance web applications you will always have bottlenecks within your application. Identifying these bottlenecks and optimizing is a tedious task and typically show themselves underload. A single bad/unindexed query can bring a server to its knees. A large number of rows will also help to highlight any poor queries, and on very large datasets you may come to the point where you may have to make decisions whether to denormilize database schema.

Explain each page

Whilst I develope sites, I typically print out all queries, EXPLAIN each select statement at the bottom of each page, and highlight it red if its doing a full table scan, temp tables or a filesort. As well as displaying SHOWS INDEXES FROM TABLE…

Not only will it help you to optimize sites, you can also see bad logic and areas to optimize such as a query for each loop when looking through a users table for example.

MySQL indexing optimization

How do you identify where bottlenecks occur?

One of my favourite linux commands lately is the watch command. For Mac users you can get this from macports via “sudo port install watch”. Also a few other handy applications are mysqlreport, mytop.

# Appends file with processlist
watch -n1 “mysqladmin -uroot processlist >>watch.processlist.txt”

# Count the number of locked processes
watch -n1 “mysqladmin -uroot processlist | grep -i ‘lock’ | wc -l “;

# Count the number of processes sleep
watch -n1 “mysqladmin -uroot processlist | grep -i ’sleep’ | wc -l “;

# Run a specific query every second
watch -n1 “mysql -uadmin -p`cat /etc/psa/.psa.shadow` trade_engine –execute “SELECT NOW(),date_quote FROM sampleData WHERE 1=1 AND permission = ‘755′ AND  symbol=’IBZL’ GROUP BY date_quote;” ”

# Emails mysqlreport every 60 seconds
watch -n60 mysqlreport –all –email

# Displays process list as well as appending the contents to a file
watch -n1 “mysqladmin -uadmin -p`cat /etc/psa/.psa.shadow` processlist | tee -a process.list.txt”

Watching the processlist is very handy in identifying locked, sleeping or sorting process states. If you have a large number of locked processes you typically should change the table type to INNODB, which supports row level locking. if you have a large number of sleeping connections, and you have persistent connections enabled, most likely indicates that connections are not being reused.

Running a specific query every second is exceptionally handy, the example I gave indicates whether one of our crons is correctly functioning and as each row is inserted you can watch something being either inserted or updated. mysqlreport gives numerous peices of information, extremely helpful in identifying issues, you can see more indepth at

Look at the mysql slow query log and optimize each query starting with the most common, think whether you have to execute that query at all and use a cache such as memcached.

I also typically tend to look at the following:

  • vmstat -S M
  • ps axl | grep -i ‘mysql’
  • pstree –G
  • free –m


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About this blog

I have been a developer for roughly 10 years and have worked with an extensive range of technologies. Whilst working for relatively small companies, I have worked with all aspects of the development life cycle, which has given me a broad and in-depth experience.