8.8.1. Optimizing Queries with EXPLAIN

The EXPLAIN statement can be used either as a way to obtain information about how MySQL executes a statement, or as a synonym for DESCRIBE:

With the help of EXPLAIN, you can see where you should add indexes to tables so that the statement executes faster by using indexes to find rows. You can also use EXPLAIN to check whether the optimizer joins the tables in an optimal order. To give a hint to the optimizer to use a join order corresponding to the order in which the tables are named in a SELECT statement, begin the statement with SELECT STRAIGHT_JOIN rather than just SELECT. (See Section 13.2.9, "SELECT Syntax".)

The optimizer trace may sometimes provide information complementary to that of EXPLAIN. However, the optimizer trace format and content are subject to change between versions". For details, see MySQL Internals: Tracing the Optimizer.

If you have a problem with indexes not being used when you believe that they should be, run ANALYZE TABLE to update table statistics, such as cardinality of keys, that can affect the choices the optimizer makes. See Section 13.7.2.1, "ANALYZE TABLE Syntax".




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