10.4.3. The BLOB and TEXT Types

A BLOB is a binary large object that can hold a variable amount of data. The four BLOB types are TINYBLOB, BLOB, MEDIUMBLOB, and LONGBLOB. These differ only in the maximum length of the values they can hold. The four TEXT types are TINYTEXT, TEXT, MEDIUMTEXT, and LONGTEXT. These correspond to the four BLOB types and have the same maximum lengths and storage requirements. See Section 10.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

BLOB values are treated as binary strings (byte strings). They have no character set, and sorting and comparison are based on the numeric values of the bytes in column values. TEXT values are treated as nonbinary strings (character strings). They have a character set, and values are sorted and compared based on the collation of the character set.

If strict SQL mode is not enabled and you assign a value to a BLOB or TEXT column that exceeds the column's maximum length, the value is truncated to fit and a warning is generated. For truncation of nonspace characters, you can cause an error to occur (rather than a warning) and suppress insertion of the value by using strict SQL mode. See Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

Truncation of excess trailing spaces from values to be inserted into TEXT columns always generates a warning, regardless of the SQL mode.

If a TEXT column is indexed, index entry comparisons are space-padded at the end. This means that, if the index requires unique values, duplicate-key errors will occur for values that differ only in the number of trailing spaces. For example, if a table contains 'a', an attempt to store 'a ' causes a duplicate-key error. This is not true for BLOB columns.

In most respects, you can regard a BLOB column as a VARBINARY column that can be as large as you like. Similarly, you can regard a TEXT column as a VARCHAR column. BLOB and TEXT differ from VARBINARY and VARCHAR in the following ways:

If you use the BINARY attribute with a TEXT data type, the column is assigned the binary collation of the column character set.

LONG and LONG VARCHAR map to the MEDIUMTEXT data type. This is a compatibility feature.

MySQL Connector/ODBC defines BLOB values as LONGVARBINARY and TEXT values as LONGVARCHAR.

Because BLOB and TEXT values can be extremely long, you might encounter some constraints in using them:

Each BLOB or TEXT value is represented internally by a separately allocated object. This is in contrast to all other data types, for which storage is allocated once per column when the table is opened.

In some cases, it may be desirable to store binary data such as media files in BLOB or TEXT columns. You may find MySQL's string handling functions useful for working with such data. See Section 11.5, “String Functions”. For security and other reasons, it is usually preferable to do so using application code rather than giving application users the FILE privilege. You can discuss specifics for various languages and platforms in the MySQL Forums (http://forums.mysql.com/).

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