ID #1133

How Do I Remove Duplicates From My Databases?

Removing duplicate rows from database tables can be a problem. The problem is that with the common SQL syntax

DELETE FROM mytable WHERE {where condition};

.. you cannot specify a where-condition that will be satisfied with all duplicates minus one. This SQL will remove ALL rows that satisfy the where-condition. And what you wanted was to remove all but one! SQLyog will warn you, but cannot do anything else! Refer to

If you know that there are for instance 4 duplicate rows you can of course

DELETE FROM mytable WHERE {where condition} LIMIT 3;

.. but if you don't know the numbers of duplicates (and you even might not know for which rows of a table duplicates exist) you will have to execute a

SELECT COUNT(*) from mytable WHERE {where condition};

... for every row. When duplicates exist it most likely is because of a buggy application and hundreds or thousands of such duplicate rows may exist.

A more efficient solution
to your problem is to create a copy of the table and use the SQL syntax "INSERT IGNORE INTO..." or "REPLACE INTO..." instead of just "INSERT INTO".

If your old/source table is like

CREATE TABLE ´oldtest´ (
´ID´ int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
´n´ int(11) default NULL,
´t´ varchar(50) default NULL,

or just

´n´ int(11) NOT NULL,
´t´ varchar(50) NOT NULL,

then create a new/target table like (note: you define a PK on ALL or at least A LOT of columns of the table)

´n´ int(11) NOT NULL,
´t´ varchar(50) NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (´n´,´t´)

Now you need to read values from source (´oldtest´) and for every row in source execute

INSERT IGNORE INTO newtest (n,t)
values (n_value_for_the_source_row,t_value_for_the_source_row);

INSERT IGNORE INTO will skip duplicate rows in target, REPLACE INTO will overwrite, but the result will be the same: only 1 row with the same data!

Now you can ALTER TABLE, drop the 'intermediate multi-column PK', create a new ID column and define it as the PK.

However there is no way to do this in 'pure' SQL. You have more options:

1) using an external script/application reading the source on a per row base and INSERT IGNORE/REPLACE INTO the target.
2) use a Stored Procedure (with a cursor that 'runs through' the source row-by-row and does the same)
3) You may use SQLyog Import External Data Tool. It is very easy actually!

With SQLyog Import External Data Tool and the above example do this:

a) Create the target table (with the 'intermediate multi-column PK') in advance in another database than source
b) Create a DNS with the MyODBC driver 3.51 pointing to the database of the source
c) Migrate from Source to Target with the Import External Data Tool:

-- in the 'map' dialogue uncheck the current PK column (if there is any)
-- use 'advanced' setting like attached screenshot (the Import External Data Tool will REPLACE INTO)

4) ALTER TABLE target: drop the 'intermediate multi-column PK', create the new ID-column and define it as a PK!

(Note however that re-organizing or renumbering PK's may cause problems with existing applications, as the PK of a table may be referenced by Foreign Key or a application pointer. That we cannot help! Always backup you data before replacing the original tables with new tables created like described here!)

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