mnesia: inserting a large number of records

Sebastian Bello <>
Thu Jul 28 22:51:29 CEST 2005


thank you very much for your response and your detailed description. The
solution looks a bit complicated to me, but I'll try some tests.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Vance Shipley" <>
To: "Sebastian Bello" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:24 AM
Subject: Re: mnesia: inserting a large number of records

> On Fri, Jul 22, 2005 at 10:29:36AM -0300, Sebastian Bello wrote:
> }
> } a programm reads records from a text file and inserts them in
> } a mnesia table. We are performing this insertions within a
> } transaction so in case of an error the whole file can be
> } reprocessed. The file holds approx. 5.000-10.000 records.
> } It seems the transaction time is not linear; I'm wondering if
> } there is a faster way to perform the insertions, maybe using
> } a table lock, I don't know. Any suggestions?
> Sebastian,
> I had a similiar challenge where we wanted to import large text
> files into a distributed mnesia database while it was in production.
> In our case we mostly needed to replace the existing copy so I
> came up with the following scheme:
>    - create a new ram based table (e.g. foo_import)
>    - use a write lock transaction fun with mnesia:ets/1 to
>      insert records
>    - use mnesia:change_table_copy_type/3 to change it to a
>      disc based table on the local node only
>    - activate a check point on this table table
>    - backup this checkpoint using a custom mnesia_backup
>      behaviour callback module to change the records on
>      the fly to use the real table name (e.g. #foo_import{}
>      to #foo{}).
> The idea is that you create the table in an ets context without
> lock overheads so that it is a fast operation (i.e. the user doesn't
> wait long) and then write it out to a binary backup file on disk.
> Now the user may use mnesia:restore/2 to replace the working
> table with the backup.  You can do this while the system is running
> and transactions will block while it replaces the table.  In our
> experience a couple seconds at worst.  As I said we just replace
> the current table but you could just as easily insert the records
> into the existing table using the keep_tables option.  I haven't
> tried this scheme so I can't say how it performs.  For our purposes
> we changed the time it took to perform the import from many minutes,
> if not hours, to maybe twenty seconds.  Aftet that as I said the
> table can be replaced in a couple seconds.
> -Vance

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