If you query data and then insert or update related data within the same transaction, the regular SELECT statement does not give enough protection. Other transactions can update or delete the same rows you just queried. InnoDB supports two types of locking reads that offer extra safety:

  • SELECT ... LOCK IN SHARE MODE sets a shared mode lock on any rows that are read. Other sessions can read the rows, but cannot modify them until your transaction commits. If any of these rows were changed by another transaction that has not yet committed, your query waits until that transaction ends and then uses the latest values.

  • SELECT ... FOR UPDATE locks the rows and any associated index entries, the same as if you issued an UPDATE statement for those rows. Other transactions are blocked from updating those rows, from doing SELECT ... LOCK IN SHARE MODE, or from reading the data in certain transaction isolation levels. Consistent reads ignore any locks set on the records that exist in the read view. (Old versions of a record cannot be locked; they are reconstructed by applying undo logs on an in-memory copy of the record.)

These clauses are primarily useful when dealing with tree-structured or graph-structured data, either in a single table or split across multiple tables.

All locks set by LOCK IN SHARE MODE and FOR UPDATE queries are released when the transaction is committed or rolled back.


Locking of rows for update using SELECT FOR UPDATE only applies when autocommit is disabled (either by beginning transaction with START TRANSACTION or by setting autocommit to 0. If autocommit is enabled, the rows matching the specification are not locked.

Usage Examples

Suppose that you want to insert a new row into a table child, and make sure that the child row has a parent row in table parent. Your application code can ensure referential integrity throughout this sequence of operations.

First, use a consistent read to query the table PARENT and verify that the parent row exists. Can you safely insert the child row to table CHILD? No, because some other session could delete the parent row in the moment between your SELECT and your INSERT, without you being aware of it.

To avoid this potential issue, perform the SELECT using LOCK IN SHARE MODE:


After the LOCK IN SHARE MODE query returns the parent 'Jones', you can safely add the child record to the CHILD table and commit the transaction. Any transaction that tries to read or write to the applicable row in the PARENT table waits until you are finished, that is, the data in all tables is in a consistent state.

For another example, consider an integer counter field in a table CHILD_CODES, used to assign a unique identifier to each child added to table CHILD. Do not use either consistent read or a shared mode read to read the present value of the counter, because two users of the database could see the same value for the counter, and a duplicate-key error occurs if two transactions attempt to add rows with the same identifier to the CHILD table.

Here, LOCK IN SHARE MODE is not a good solution because if two users read the counter at the same time, at least one of them ends up in deadlock when it attempts to update the counter.

Here are two ways to implement reading and incrementing the counter without interference from another transaction:

  • First update the counter by incrementing it by 1, then read it and use the new value in the CHILD table. Any other transaction that tries to read the counter waits until your transaction commits. If another transaction is in the middle of this same sequence, your transaction waits until the other one commits.

  • First perform a locking read of the counter using FOR UPDATE, and then increment the counter:

    SELECT counter_field FROM child_codes FOR UPDATE;
    UPDATE child_codes SET counter_field = counter_field + 1;

A SELECT ... FOR UPDATE reads the latest available data, setting exclusive locks on each row it reads. Thus, it sets the same locks a searched SQL UPDATE would set on the rows.

The preceding description is merely an example of how SELECT ... FOR UPDATE works. In MySQL, the specific task of generating a unique identifier actually can be accomplished using only a single access to the table:

UPDATE child_codes SET counter_field = LAST_INSERT_ID(counter_field + 1);

The SELECT statement merely retrieves the identifier information (specific to the current connection). It does not access any table.

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