Optimizing InnoDB for Peak Performance: A Deep Dive into Seek/Scan Costs and Statistics Management

“Unlock the full potential of your database’s performance by mastering the intricacies of InnoDB’s seek/scan costs and statistics, ensuring a swift, efficient, and reliable experience for every query.”

MinervaDB Performance Engineering Team

Fine-tuning the performance of InnoDB, MySQL’s default storage engine, requires a deep understanding of how it handles data storage, retrieval, and statistics. Two critical aspects to pay attention to when optimizing InnoDB are seek/scan costs and statistics.

1. Seek/Scan Costs:

InnoDB stores data in clustered indexes, meaning the data is stored on disk in the same order as the primary key. Non-clustered indexes (secondary indexes) store the primary key value along with the index key, creating a need to perform two lookups for certain types of queries. Understanding and tuning the seek/scan costs can lead to more efficient data retrieval.


  • Use Covering Indexes: A covering index includes all the columns needed for a query. This can eliminate the need for a second lookup in the clustered index, reducing seek/scan costs.
  • Optimize Indexes: Make sure that the most selective columns are listed first in the index. This reduces the number of rows that need to be scanned.
  • Analyze Query Patterns: Understand how your application queries the database. If there are patterns of range scans, consider whether an index can turn these into more efficient index seeks.

2. Statistics:

InnoDB maintains statistics about the distribution of data in indexes to help the optimizer choose the most efficient query execution plan.


  • Persistent Statistics: By enabling innodb_stats_persistent, InnoDB will store statistics on disk and load them when the MySQL server starts. This can lead to more consistent query performance, especially after a server restart.

SET GLOBAL innodb_stats_persistent = ON;

  • Auto-Recalculate Statistics: By default, InnoDB will automatically recalculate statistics under certain conditions. This can sometimes lead to suboptimal query plans if the distribution of data changes. Consider disabling automatic statistics recalculation and manually update statistics when needed.

SET GLOBAL innodb_stats_auto_recalc = OFF;

  • Histograms: InnoDB supports creating histograms on columns to provide more detailed statistics. This is especially useful for non-indexed columns or columns with uneven distributions.



Mastering InnoDB performance requires a careful balance between understanding the internal mechanics of how data is stored and retrieved, and how MySQL’s optimizer uses statistics to create query plans. By fine-tuning seek/scan costs and keeping statistics up-to-date and accurate, you can ensure that your InnoDB-powered MySQL database performs at its best.

Remember that changes to indexes and statistics can have broad impacts, so always test changes in a staging environment before applying them to production, and monitor performance closely after making changes.

About Shiv Iyer 390 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.