How does checkpointing work in MySQL?

How does checkpointing work in MySQL?


In MySQL, checkpointing is the process of flushing dirty pages from the buffer pool to disk, in order to ensure that the data on disk is in a consistent state. Checkpointing is performed by the InnoDB storage engine to ensure that the data in the buffer pool is written to disk in a timely manner, and to minimize the amount of data that would be lost in the event of a crash.

There are two types of checkpointing in InnoDB:

  1. Background checkpointing: This type of checkpointing is performed by the InnoDB storage engine in the background, at regular intervals. The goal of background checkpointing is to flush dirty pages from the buffer pool to disk as soon as possible, in order to minimize the amount of data that would be lost in the event of a crash.
  2. Foreground checkpointing: This type of checkpointing is performed when a specific event occurs, such as a high level of activity on the buffer pool or a high level of dirty pages in the buffer pool. The goal of foreground checkpointing is to flush dirty pages from the buffer pool to disk as soon as possible, in order to free up memory and improve performance.

InnoDB uses an algorithm called LRU (Least Recently Used) to decide which pages to flush first during the checkpointing process. The LRU algorithm is based on the recency and frequency of access to the pages, it tries to keep the pages that are frequently accessed in the buffer pool, and to flush the pages that haven’t been accessed recently.

The checkpointing process can be configured using several configuration options such as innodb_flush_method, innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit, innodb_log_buffer_size, innodb_max_dirty_pages_pct, among others. These options allow you to control the intervals between checkpointing, the amount of data that is flushed during each checkpoint, and the amount of data that is allowed to remain in the buffer pool before a checkpoint is triggered.

It’s important to note that checkpointing can cause a performance hit, as it requires disk I/O operations, and it can also increase the disk space usage, as a result of flushing more data to disk more frequently.

Python script to monitor real-time checkpointing happening to MySQL:

This script will print out the current checkpoint age, which represents the number of modified pages that have not been flushed to disk yet. A low checkpoint age indicates that the checkpointing process is keeping up with the rate of modified pages, while a high checkpoint age indicates that the checkpointing process is lagging behind.

You can use this script as a base and add more code to it, like to write the data to a log file, visualize the data with graphs, or send alerts when certain thresholds are met.

It’s important to remember that monitoring checkpointing is just one aspect of monitoring the performance of your MySQL server, and other metrics such as CPU usage, memory usage, and disk I/O should also be monitored to get a complete picture of your MySQL server’s performance.

About Shiv Iyer 72 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.

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