How to alter tables in production when records are in millions — the right way

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As a developer, I have experienced changes in app when it is in production and the records have grown up to millions. In this specific case if you want to alter a column using simple migrations that will not work because of the following reasons:

It is not so easy if your production servers are under heavy load and the database tables have 100 million rows. Because such a migration will run for some seconds or even minutes and the database table can be locked for this time period – a no-go on a zero-downtime environment.

In this specific case you can use MySQL’s algorithms: Online DDL operations. That’s how you can do it in Laravel.

First of all create migration. For example I want to modify a column’s name the traditional migration will be:

Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
            $table->renameColumn('name', 'first_name');
        });

Run the following command php artisan migrate –pretend this command will not run the migration rather it will print out it’s raw sql:

ALTER TABLE users CHANGE name first_name VARCHAR(191) NOT NULL

Copy that raw sql, remove following code:

Schema::table('users', function (Blueprint $table) {
            $table->renameColumn('name', 'first_name');
        });

Replace it with following in migrations up method:

\DB::statement('ALTER TABLE users CHANGE name first_name VARCHAR(191) NOT NULL');

Add desired algorithm, in my case query will look like this:

\DB::statement('ALTER TABLE users CHANGE name first_name VARCHAR(191) NOT NULL, ALGORITHM=INPLACE, LOCK=NONE;');