Troubleshooting signal waits happening to MySQL

Unlocking the secrets of signal waits in MySQL is the key to optimizing performance and ensuring your database runs smoothly. Don’t let these challenges go unnoticed. Dive in, troubleshoot, and watch your MySQL system thrive.” #MySQL #PerformanceOptimization #DatabaseTroubleshooting

Signal waits in MySQL generally refer to situations where threads are waiting for signals (or notifications) from other threads to proceed with their operation. These kinds of waits are often related to thread synchronization and can be indicative of contention issues within the database. Troubleshooting signal waits involves identifying the causes and addressing them through configuration tuning, schema changes, or query optimization.

Understanding Signal Waits

  1. Concurrency and Locking: High levels of concurrency can lead to threads waiting on signals, especially in locking scenarios where one transaction holds a lock that others are waiting to acquire.
  2. Thread Synchronization: In multi-threaded environments, threads may wait for signals from other threads as part of normal operation. Excessive waits can indicate contention.

Steps for Troubleshooting

1. Identify the Wait Events

First, determine the specific signal wait events. Use the Performance Schema to find out which threads are waiting and what they are waiting on.

2. Analyze Blocking Queries

If the wait is due to row-level locking, identify the blocking queries. This can be done using the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.INNODB_LOCKS and INNODB_LOCK_WAITS tables.

3. Monitor Threads and Processes

Use SHOW PROCESSLIST to see the current threads and their states. Look for threads in a “Waiting for…” state.

4. Review Query Execution Plans

Use EXPLAIN to analyze the execution plan of queries involved in locking. Optimizing these queries can reduce lock waits.

5. Optimize Locking Strategy

  • For InnoDB, ensure transactions are as short as possible to minimize lock holding time.
  • Consider using optimistic locking where practical.
  • Analyze and optimize your indexing strategy to reduce row-level contention.

6. Tune InnoDB Configuration

  • Adjust innodb_lock_wait_timeout to control how long a transaction waits for a lock before giving up.
  • Consider tuning other InnoDB parameters like innodb_thread_concurrency or innodb_concurrency_tickets.

7. Adjust Application Logic

  • If applicable, modify the application logic to reduce contention, such as by batching writes or spreading heavy loads over time.
  • Implement retries with exponential backoff in the application for transactions that fail due to lock waits.

8. Scale Your Resources

  • If contention is due to resource limitations, consider scaling up (more powerful hardware) or scaling out (distributed database systems or sharding).

9. Regular Monitoring

  • Continuously monitor your database performance and wait events. Tools like Percona Monitoring and Management (PMM) or MySQL Enterprise Monitor can provide comprehensive insights.


Signal waits in MySQL are often symptoms of deeper performance issues related to concurrency and contention. Addressing them requires a thorough analysis of your database’s workload, queries, and configuration. By systematically identifying the causes and implementing targeted optimizations, you can mitigate these waits and improve the overall performance of your MySQL server.

About Shiv Iyer 452 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.