Overview of Fast Index Creation

Historically, adding or dropping an index on a table with existing data could be very slow. The CREATE INDEX and DROP INDEX statements worked by creating a new, empty table defined with the requested set of indexes, then copying the existing rows to the new table one-by-one, updating the indexes as the rows are inserted. After all rows from the original table were copied, the old table was dropped and the copy was renamed with the name of the original table.

In InnoDB, the rows of a table are stored in a clustered (or primary key) index, forming what some database systems call an “index-organized table”. Changing the clustered index still requires copying the data. The performance speedup applies only to secondary indexes.

This new mechanism also means that you can generally speed the overall process of creating and loading an indexed table by creating the table with only the clustered index, and adding the secondary indexes after the data is loaded.

No syntax changes are required in the CREATE INDEX or DROP INDEX statements. However, there are some considerations of which you should be aware (see Section, “Limitations of Fast Index Creation”).

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