Importance of Backup & Recovery in MySQL Database and SQL

MySQL database and SQL

A database is the cornerstone of any application. For this reason, maintaining one or more backup and recovery options remains a priority for every database professional. There are multiple alternatives you can choose from as per the specific needs of your organization’s database.

In this post, we will examine some of the most popular back-ups and restore strategies for MySQL database and SQL. We will also touch upon the reasons why databases require backups on a regular basis.

Why Do We Need Backups for MySQL Database?

As a DBA, you’ll need backup and recovery to support data in multiple cases, such as:

Discrepancies in Data: Users may accidentally delete or update incorrect data in the primary or replica node.

Data Centre Failure: An indefinite power outage or internet connectivity issue can spell trouble for your organization.

Disk Damage: If the disk is stalling for too long due to some kind of damage, it can greatly reduce performance. In cloud services for Oracle database, it translates into a broken DB instance that cuts access.

Broken Data: In case of a power outage, MySQL may fails to write data and close files as usual. There are also instances where MySQL fails to restart and doesn’t work despite the crash recovery process because of corruption in data.

Legislation/Regulation: Backups and recovery options ensure business value and client satisfaction.

Various Kinds of Backups for MySQL Database

Given below are some common backup categories that suit a range of needs:

Physical: These comprise the exact copies of database files and may contain part or all of the MySQL directory. The most common use of this type of backup is to make a new replica node and respond to host failure in a convenient manner. Experts recommend restoring data with the help of the same MySQL database version.

Offsite: This is one of the most recommended backup alternatives as it guarantees an untouched copy in case of data centre or host failure. It involves copying the data to the cloud, an external file server or another external source. However, sometimes it may take longer to download the files from the cloud or server than the recovery process. Therefore, experienced database professionals keep about a week of data locally on a backup server for quick recovery.

Logical: It is useful for smaller quantities of data as it is slower in comparison to physical backup methods. It essentially consists of dumps from INSERT and CREATE statements. It is useful in addressing data corruption or when you must recover a subset of tables. Although the output is greater in logical backups, especially when that data is present in text format, you can perform a quick compression if the software you’re using requires it. For instance, you can use Mydumper and mysqldump to compress and redirect the data to the zip folder.

Incremental: This type of backup contains all the changes made in the organization’s Oracle database and SQL server since the last backup. It is, therefore, quite useful for enormous datasets since it allows you to take small backups (experts recommend this after you’ve taken a full backup) as data comes later.

Differential: It consists of copying the modifications since your previous backup. One advantage of a differential backup is that it saves disk space. This is because the data in these backups mostly remains the same, so the result leads to backups that are substantially smaller in size.

SQL Query Optimization Tool Online: Top Characteristics

MySQL database and SQL

Data is one of the most important resources in an organization and SQL is the most popular method to store and manipulate it. Therefore, the widely-used Structured Query Language is supported by almost every modern RDBMS around the world.

This is also why database servers are often known as SQL Servers, where the language establishes the manner in which the statements will be formed to fetch the required data. Since modern databases can get rather bulky due to a large number of joined tables, the SQL queries needed to access the right information present inside can get quite complicated as well.

This decreases performance – and SQL query optimization is needed to maintain desired results. Although this can be done manually, there is more than one SQL query optimization tool online available for assistance. Here, we will discuss what SQL query optimization is about, followed by the major characteristics of optimizing tools.

What Query Optimization Means in MySQL Database and SQL

Let’s start with the what and why of SQL query optimization. In basic terms, it is the process of assessing SQL statements and identifying the most productive method to complete a certain task.

Generally, it involves a trial-and-error technique where different statements are tested to compare their performance. The query that exhibits the best performance while still fetching accurate data is then selected.

Although database management systems may already have query optimizers, you can opt for a third-party SQL query optimization tool online as they often provide faster and better results. The average query optimizer produces one or more query plans for each statement to help run the query.

The execution time of every plan is measured and considered as the performance parameter to pick the most efficient one that can run the query in the least time with the same results.

MySQL Database and SQL Query Optimisation: An Example

Let us consider a simple example related to this: suppose a user has to run a statement to fetch around half the information present in a table at a time when the server is already occupied with several connections at once.

This is where the query optimization tool can pick out the optimal query plan that requires minimal resources to fulfill the query. This will also take up fewer server resources. In case the user has to use the same statement at a less busy time, the query optimizer is designed to verify the availability of resources and proceed with loading the complete table in memory instead of using table indexes.

Major Characteristics of a SQL Query Optimization Tool Online

Here’s a look at the three major characteristics that are typically built into a MySQL database and SQL query tuning tool:

Compatibility with Database Engine

A majority of tools are created to support the biggest database engines out there, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL, MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL. However, some tools may be designed to support a single database management system or to be compatible with an even wider range of engines.

Essential SQL Tuning

One of the core features of every SQL query optimization tool online is the ability to provide basic SQL tuning. It implies rewriting SQL queries to boost their performance, which is done by measuring the time it takes for different versions of the statement to be executed. After this, the version that gives the best results is selected.

Compatibility with Cloud-based Databases

Certain tools come with a feature that allows them to assess and improve the performance of cloud-based database management systems. The best examples of cloud-based databases are AWS RDS and Microsoft SQL Azure. However, not every tool is guaranteed to provide this support, so check whether the one you’re considering does before you make your selection. Also, note that a majority of tools that are compatible with cloud-based MySQL databases and SQL will also work with those present on the premises.

How to Tune SQL Statements with Rewrite and Hints Injection for MySQL?

sql tuning for MySQL

There are some SQL statements with performance problem have to be tuned by SQL syntax rewrite and Hints injection, it is a little bit difficult for SQL tuning newcomers to master this technique. Developers not only have to understand the relationship between SQL syntax and the final query plan generation but have to understand the usage of optimizer hints and its limitations. Sometimes these two tuning techniques application will affect each other in a complex SQL statement.

Here is a simple example SQL that retrieves data from EMPLOYEE and DEPARTMENT tables.

select  * from employee,department
where emp_dept=dpt_id
   and emp_dept<‘L’
   and emp_id<1500000
   and emp_salary= dpt_avg_salary
order by dpt_avg_salary

Here the following are the query plans of this SQL, it takes 7.7 seconds to finish. The query shows a “Full Table Scan Department” and nested loop Employee table with a Non-Unique Key Lookup EMPS_SALARY_INX.

You can see that this SQL cannot utilize index scan even though the dpt_dept is an indexed field. It is because the condition emp_dept<‘L’ is not explicitly induced the condition dpt_id < ‘L’ although emp_dept=dpt_id is also listed in the where clause.

To enable the index search of Department table, I explicitly add a condition dpt_id < ‘L’ to the SQL statement as the following:

select   *
from  employee,
where  emp_dept = dpt_id
     and dpt_id < ‘L’
     and emp_dept < ‘L’
     and emp_id < 1500000
     and emp_salary = dpt_avg_salary
order by  dpt_avg_salary

Here is the query plan of the rewritten SQL and the execution time is reduced to 3.4 seconds. The new query plan shows that an Index Range Scan is used for the Department table and nested loop Employee table.

You may find that the nested loop to Employee by EMPS_SALARY_INX lookup may result into a lot of random access to the Employee table. Let me add a BKA hint to ask MySQL to use ‘Batched Key Access’ to join the two tables.

select   /*+ QB_NAME(QB1) BKA(`employee`@QB1) */ *
from  employee,
where  emp_dept = dpt_id
     and dpt_id < ‘L’
     and emp_dept < ‘L’
     and emp_id < 1500000
     and emp_salary = dpt_avg_salary
order by  dpt_avg_salary

The new query plan shows a Batched Key Access is used to join Department and Employee tables, you can BAK information from MySQL manual for details, the new plan takes only 1.99 seconds and it is more than 3 times better than the original SQL syntax.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that the rewrite is more than 3 times faster than the original SQL.

How to Tune SQL Statements to Run SLOWER… but Make Users Feel BETTER (MySQL)?

MySQL database and SQL

Your end-users may keep on complaining about some functions of their database application are running slow, but you may found that those SQL statements are already reached their maximum speed in the current MySQL and hardware configuration. There may be no way to improve the SQL unless you are willing to upgrade your hardware. To make your users feel better, sometimes, you don’t have to tune your SQL to run faster but to tune your SQL to run slower for certain application’s SQL statements.

This is an example SQL that is used to display the information from tables Emp_subsidiary and Employee if they are satisfied with certain criteria. This SQL is executed as an online query and users have to wait for at least 5 seconds before any data will be shown on screen after the mouse click.

select  *
from    employee a,
         emp_subsidiary b
where   a.emp_id = b.emp_id
         and a.emp_grade < 1050
         and b.emp_salary < 5000000
order by a.emp_id

Here the following is the query plan and execution statistics of the SQL, it takes 5.48seconds to extract all 3645 records and the first records return time ”Response Time(Duration)” is 5.39 seconds. The query shows a “Full Table Scan b (emp_subsidiary)” to Nested-Loop “a (employee)” table, an ORDER operation is followed by sorting the returned data by emp_id. You can see there is a Sort Cost=7861.86 at the ORDER step on the query plan. It is the reason that users have to wait at least 5 seconds before they can see anything shows on the screen.

To reduce the sorting time of a.emp_id, since a.emp_id=b.emp_id, so I can rewrite the order by clause from “order by a.emp_id” to “order by b.emp_id”, MySQL now can eliminate the sorting time by using the EMPLOYEE_PK after the nested loop operation.

select  *
from    employee a,
         emp_subsidiary b
where   a.emp_id = b.emp_id
         and a.emp_grade < 1050
         and b.emp_salary < 5000000
order by b.emp_id

Although the overall Elapsed Time is higher in the new query plan, you can see that the response time is reduced from 5.397 seconds to 0.068, so the users can see the first page of information on the screen instantly and they don’t care whether there are 2 more seconds for all 3,645 records to be returned. That is why SQL tuning is an art rather than science when you are going to manage your users’ expectations.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically.

Optimization in SQL: Answering 4 Commonly-Asked Questions

optimization of sql queries

A SQL query or statement is tasked with fetching the required information from the database. While the same output can be gained from different statements, they are likely to work at different performance levels.

The difference in performance output makes a lot of difference because a millisecond of lapse in query execution can result in huge losses for the organization. This makes it extremely necessary to ensure the best statement is being used, which is where optimization in SQL is considered.

#1: What is Query Optimization in Databases?

Query optimization in databases is the general process of picking out the most efficient way of obtaining data from the database i.e. carrying out the best query for a given requirement. Since SQL is nonprocedural, it can be processed, merged, and reorganized as seen fit by the optimizer and the database.

The database enhances each query on the basis of various statistics gathered about the information fetched from it. On the other hand, the optimizer selects the optimal plan for a query after assessing different access techniques including index and full-table scans. Various join methods and orders are also used along with certain probable transformations.

#2: What is Query Cost in Optimization?

Query cost is a metric that helps examine execution plans and determine the optimal one. Depending on the SQL statement and the environment, the optimizer sets an estimated numerical cost for every step throughout potential plans and considers an aggregate to derive the overall cost estimate for it.

The total query cost of a query is the sum of the costs incurred at every step in it. Since query cost is a comparative estimate of the resources needed to carry out every step of an execution plan, it doesn’t have any unit. The optimizer picks out the plan with the least cost projection once it has completed all its calculations of all the available plans.

#3: Is Query Cost the Best Way to Judge Performance?

In a word: No. Why? Although query cost proves useful in comprehending the manner in which a specific query is optimized, we must bear in mind its main goal: helping the optimizer select decent execution plans.

It does not offer a direct measure of parameters such as CPU, IO, memory, duration that are significant to users waiting for a statement to finish running. In other words, a low query cost won’t necessarily mean the plan is optimal or the query in question is the quickest. Similarly, a high query cost can prove more efficient in comparison, which is why it is not recommended to depend too much on query cost when considering performance.

Being a CPU-intensive operation query optimization in SQL takes a lot of resources to determine the best plan among the ones present. Time also needs to be factored in here as the user may not always have the time it may take for this entire process to take place. 

Therefore, the resources required to optimize a statement, those required to run the statement, and the time it takes for all of this to be done with shouldn’t exceed each other. 

#4: How Can We Optimize a SQL Query?

Query optimization often needs extra resources, such as the addition of indexes. However, we can boost query performance by simply rewriting a statement to decrease resource consumption without further expenses.

This lets us save significant resources, money, and time (if a query optimization tool is used). Through query optimization in SQL, we can focus on specific areas that are causing latency instead of examining the entire procedure. In such cases, looking for sections that are taking up more resources will help us narrow down the search and fix issues more quickly.

Query Performance Tuning: Making an SQL Monitor Report

Creating a SQL Monitor Report plays an important role in database optimization as it helps the user observe other occurrences during the execution of long-running statements. 

In this post, we’ll discuss how to create one such report that may help you during query performance tuning

SQL Monitor Report: Bringing DBAs One Step Closer to Database Query Optimization

To begin with, you need to make sure your database has the tuning and diagnostic pack. Otherwise, Oracle will not authorize the creation of SQL Monitor Reports.

Also, such reports can be made after an adequate amount of time has passed. The wait is to allow query bottlenecks to reveal themselves. This is typically done for seemingly endless queries that run for long periods of time. However, in general, creating SQL monitor reports is recommended for completed queries.  

Let’s look at an example: A DBA has a simple plan with a hash join involving two big tables. Suppose one of these tables takes two seconds to undergo a complete table scan, whereas the second one takes nine seconds. 

Although only around two seconds out of a total of eleven seconds are sent on the first table, it will appear as though a hundred percent of the query time is being spent on it if you create a SQL Monitor report during the first two seconds.

Creating Reports for Excessively Long Execution Plans

Really long execution plans – those that exceed three hundred lines – don’t have a SQL monitor report generated for them by default. This gets cumbersome because long execution plans are where these reports are needed the most! 

In such cases, there are two things you can do to make the database generate a report. These are – 

  1. Prior to issuing the query in question, generate the following in the session operating the query:

alter session set “_sqlmon_max_planlines” = 800;

2. Apply the following hint while executing the query: 

/* + monitor */ 

How to Create an HTML Version of the Monitor Report 

The HTML version of a SQL Monitor report offers some more details as compared to its text report. This is why it is often recommended by database professionals, with the help of the following query: 

Select dbms_sqltune.report_sql_monitor(

sql_id => ‘&v_sql_id.’,

Session_id => ‘&v_session_id.’,

Session_serial => ‘&v_serial.’,

Type => ‘HTML’,

Report_level => ‘ALL’,

Inst_num => ‘&v_instance.’ )report

from dual;

Not every variable needs to be plugged in – you just require variables sufficient to enable Oracle to recognize the particular SQL\session combination. And if there is only a single session executing the statement on the entire database, only the sql_id is enough.

Creating a Text Monitor Report Instead

In case you’d rather make a text report – whether if it’s due to some problems with an HTML report, or simply preference – here’s how to do it – 

Select dbms_sqltune.report_sql_monitor(

sql_id => ‘&v_sql_id.’,

Session_id => ‘&v_session_id.’,

Session_serial => ‘&v_serial.’,

Type => ‘TEXT’,

Report_level => ‘ALL’,

Inst_num => ‘&v_instance.’ )report

from dual;

How to Tune SQL Statements with CONCAT Operator for MySQL?

oracle sql performance tuning

There may be some business requirements that need to compare concatenate strings and column with a given unknown length of the bind variable. Here is an example SQL that retrieves data from EMPLOYEE and DEPARTMENT tables where employee’s department ID must concatenate two strings before it is compared to an unknown length of variable @dpt_var

select * from employee,department
where concat(concat(‘A’,emp_dept),‘B’) = @dpt_var
and  emp_dept= dpt_id

Here the following are the query plans of this SQL, it takes 23.8 seconds to finish. The query shows a “Full Table Scan Employee” to nested loop Department table.

You can see that this SQL cannot utilize index scan even the emp_dept is an indexed field. Let me add a “force index(EMPS_DPT_INX) hints to the SQL and hope it can help MySQL SQL optimizer to use index scan, but it fails to enable the index scan anyway, so I add one more dummy condition emp_dept >= ” , it is an always true condition that emp_dept should be greater or equal to a smallest empty character. It is to fool MySQL SQL optimizer that emp_dept’s index is a reasonable step.

select  *
from  employee force index(EMPS_DPT_INX),
where  concat(concat(‘A’,emp_dept),‘B’) = @dpt_var
     and emp_dept >= ”
     and emp_dept = dpt_id

Here is the query plan of the rewritten SQL and it is running faster. The new query plan shows that an Index Range Scan is used for Employee table first and then nested loop Department table.

This kind of rewrite can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that the rewrite is more than 3 times faster than the original SQL.

MySQL SQL Performance Tuning: 8 Great Monitoring Practices

MySQL SQL performance tuning

DBAs don’t mind getting the attention of the management, as long as it’s for a positive reason. I mean once in a while, but not all the time; many would still prefer to remain off-radar, quietly ensuring the organization’s databases stay running without a hitch.

Since they have significant accountability in an organization, it is essential for them to beware of all the things that could go south. They can do this by following certain excellent practices for monitoring and MySQL SQL performance tuning, which we will explain in this post.

Best MySQL Database and SQL Monitoring Practices

With these practices, you can avoid being recognized by management for the database outage that took four days to fix, instead of your people skills.

  1. Conduct Regular Health Checks of Your Database

A database administrator knows how important it is to schedule regular health checks for their database. Note that every database has its own maintenance requirements, and that the health checks should be geared toward particular functional needs.

Databases that are non-critical do not require as frequent checks as mission-critical or life-critical databases. A local bookshop’s customer rewarding app failing isn’t as severe as the failure of a missile defense system, for instance.

  • Monitor MySQL Availability

This is perhaps the most essential metric to follow, since the unavailability of the database won’t leave much choice, nor will the other metrics matter until this particular issue is resolved. Use the Run dialog to check availability. You need to type in “ -mysqladmin -h -u root -p” to do so, and initiate diagnostics in case there’s a problem.

  • Check for Unsuccessful Connections & Error Logs

Monitoring the list of unsuccessful connections can slowly but surely help you identify both malicious activity and errors that aren’t as serious (caused by human error like incorrect id\password or misapplied permissions), in the application.

You are likely to get a broader picture in this manner, which will enable you to recognize larger recurring problems so that you can address them appropriately. You can keep track of failed connections by running the following command –

SHOW GLOBAL STATUS LIKE ‘aborted_connects’;

– to know the number of aborted connection attempts on the database in a provided time range.

  • Identify Deadlocks in InnoDB

In MySQL database and SQL, a deadlock takes place when multiple transactions put a lock on a resource required by another transaction. Deadlocks lead to retarded processing, increased timeouts – and unhappy users. Using the query “SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS;” will help you find deadlocks and fix them.

  • Observe Configuration Changes

An abrupt decline in performance can be the result of any number of causes. However, checking for any recent configuration changes can help you spot any adversely affecting ones and save you a considerable amount of time.

  • Keep an Eye On the Slow Queries Log

Queries that are slow make the database operate slower as well. This is due to an increase in CPU and memory usage. Assess the Slow Queries log from time to time to know if any queries are taking excessive time to run. You can then proceed towards identifying the root cause and resolving it. 

  • Maintain Visibility to Comprehend the Main Reason Behind Performance Issues

Although regular health checks are important for MySQL SQL performance tuning from the perspective of maintaining high availability, they are not as useful in terms of overall system troubleshooting.

This is because periodic performance concerns may not appear during a routine health check, which is also why a consistent visibility must be established with the MySQL environment.

The quicker you can uncover and fix performance related problems, the fewer the users that will be affected, since downtime will be considerably decreased. 

Setting alerts for critical occurrences can give you the chance to react as quickly as possible, in case a threshold is surpassed. You may set alert thresholds for these typical performance deterioration sources, at least –

  • Substantial deviations from baseline metrics, in terms of performance tuning in SQL MySQL
  • Excessive CPU utilization
  • Query latency
  • Query faults
  • Connection restraints
  • Buffer pool usage
  • Identify and Resolve Performance Issues Quickly

A database monitoring and MySQL SQL performance tuning tool is going to be the best option in nearly every case, so that issues are resolved before they grow into bigger problems.

There are plenty of performance tuning and monitoring tools on the market that come with a broad range of features at varying price ranges. Choosing the right one for your database will depend on your budget and requirements.

As long as you know what to look for in a performance tuning tool, you won’t have many issues in making your selection. Given below are a few features you should consider if you want a tool to perform SQL tuning for MySQL –

  • Scalability
  • Mobile tracking
  • Intuitive User Interface
  • Affordable yet feature-filled
  • Zero connection limitations
  • Different analysis variations, such as
    • Multidimensional workload analysis
    • Alarm source analysis
    • Blocking analysis
  • Smart alarms
  • Historical data monitoring

How to Tune SQL statement with Transitive Dependency Improvement for MySQL?

oracle query optimizer too

The following is an example shows a SQL statement with two conditions “emp_dept=dpt_id and emp_dept<‘L’”

select  *  from employee,department
where  emp_dept=dpt_id
  and  emp_dept<‘L’
  and  emp_id<1500000
  and  emp_salary= dpt_avg_salary
order    by  dpt_avg_salary

Here the following is the query plan of this SQL in Tosska proprietary tree format, it takes 8.84 seconds to finish.

The query plan looks reasonable that shows a full table scan of DEPARTMENT to nested-loop EMPLOYEE table, the records in EMPLOYEE table being nested-loop must satisfy with the condition “emp_id<1500000” and the corresponding index EMPS_SALARY_INX is also used. Due to the number of records in the first driving table in a Nested Loop Join is very critical to the join performance, we should find a way to narrow down the number of result records of DEPARTMENT table before it is used to nested-loop EMPLOYEE table.

As the conditions “emp_dept=dpt_id and emp_dept<‘L’”, it implies that “dpt_id < ‘L’” is also true, let me add this extra condition to the SQL, it helps MySQL SQL optimizer to make a better decision with more information provided by the new SQL syntax, this technique is especially useful for MySQL database.
Oracle or MS SQL Server are doing very good on their internal Transitive Dependency Improvement in their SQL optimizer already, so this technique may not work for Oracle and MS SQL Server.

select      *
from        employee,
where     emp_dept = dpt_id
    and dpt_id < ‘L’
    and emp_dept < ‘L’
    and emp_id < 1500000
    and emp_salary = dpt_avg_salary
order by dpt_avg_salary

Let’s see the DEPARTMENT is now being filtered by the new condition “dpt_id < ‘L’ “ with an index range scan. You can see the estimated Rows 401 of DEPARTMENT table is now being trimmed down to 176. The rewritten SQL now takes only 3.8 seconds with such a simple change in syntax.

This kind of rewrites can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that this rewrite is more than 2 times faster than the original SQL with such an easy change in the syntax.

How to Tune SQL Statement with Driving Path Control for MySQL?

sql tuning for MySQL

The following is an example shows a SQL statement with two potential table join paths.  “Employee to Department” and “Department to Employee” are potential driving paths which will be decided by MySQL SQL optimizer during SQL optimization stage.  

select  emp_id,emp_name,dpt_avg_salary
  from employee ,department
where emp_dept=dpt_id
and emp_dept like ‘A%’
and dpt_id like ‘A%’;

Here the following is the query plan selected by MySQL SQL optimizer in Tosska proprietary tree format, it takes 59 seconds to finish.

The query plan looks reasonable that uses DEPARTMENT’s Primary Key (DPT_ID) to fetch DEPARTMENT table first and then nested loop EMPLOYEE table by EMP_DEPT index, the speed of this query plan depends on the size of EMPLOYEE table and the records distribution according to the EMP_DEPT code.

If we want to change the driving path of the query plan from EMPLOYEE to DEPARTMENT, let me add a ifnull(dpt_id,dpt_id) dummy function to disable the DPT_ID index search, so it can artificially add cost to condition search DEPARTMENT table first. It means that using EMP_DEPT index search cost is relative cheaper now, so EMPLOYEE to DEPARTMENT driving path is probably be selected by MySQL SQL optimizer in the following:

select  emp_id,
from     employee,
where  emp_dept = dpt_id
        and emp_dept like ‘A%’
        and ifnull(dpt_id,dpt_id) like ‘A%’

EMPLOYEE to DEPARTMENT driving path plan is generated by MySQL now and it takes only 18.8 seconds only to finish the query.

If we know that using the EMP_DEPT index is not that efficient due to the selectivity of “ like ‘A%’ “ condition may not high enough to utilize the index range scan. Let me add an additional ifnull(emp_dept,emp_dept) dummy function to disable the EMP_DEPT index range scan too in the following:

select  emp_id,
from     employee,
where  emp_dept = dpt_id
        and ifnull(emp_dept,emp_dept) like ‘A%’
        and ifnull(dpt_id,dpt_id) like ‘A%’

Now, MySQL use full table scan of EMPLOYEE table to nested loop DEPARTMENT table. The speed is further improved to 15 seconds now.

This kind of rewrites can be achieved by Tosska SQL Tuning Expert for MySQL automatically, it shows that the best rewrite is around 4 times faster than the original SQL.