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11.3. Date and Time Types

The date and time types for representing temporal values are DATETIME, DATE, TIMESTAMP, TIME, and YEAR. Each temporal type has a range of legal values, as well as a “zero” value that may be used when you specify an illegal value that MySQL cannot represent. The TIMESTAMP type has special automatic updating behavior, described later on. For temporal type storage requirements, see Section 11.5, “Data Type Storage Requirements”.

Starting from MySQL 5.0.2, MySQL gives warnings or errors if you try to insert an illegal date. By setting the SQL mode to the appropriate value, you can specify more exactly what kind of dates you want MySQL to support. (See Section 5.2.6, “SQL Modes”.) You can get MySQL to accept certain dates, such as '1999-11-31', by using the ALLOW_INVALID_DATES SQL mode. (Before 5.0.2, this mode was the default behavior for MySQL.) This is useful when you want to store a “possibly wrong” value which the user has specified (for example, in a web form) in the database for future processing. Under this mode, MySQL verifies only that the month is in the range from 0 to 12 and that the day is in the range from 0 to 31. These ranges are defined to include zero because MySQL allows you to store dates where the day or month and day are zero in a DATE or DATETIME column. This is extremely useful for applications that need to store a birthdate for which you do not know the exact date. In this case, you simply store the date as '1999-00-00' or '1999-01-00'. If you store dates such as these, you should not expect to get correct results for functions such as DATE_SUB() or DATE_ADD that require complete dates. (If you do not want to allow zero in dates, you can use the NO_ZERO_IN_DATE SQL mode).

Prior to MySQL 5.0.42, when DATE values are compared with DATETIME values the time portion of the DATETIME value is ignored. Starting from MySQL 5.0.42, a DATE value is coerced to the DATETIME type by adding the time portion as '00:00:00'. To mimic the old behavior use the CAST() function in the following way: SELECT date_field = CAST(NOW() as DATE);.

MySQL also allows you to store '0000-00-00' as a “dummy date” (if you are not using the NO_ZERO_DATE SQL mode). This is in some cases is more convenient (and uses less space in data and index) than using NULL values.

Here are some general considerations to keep in mind when working with date and time types:

11.3.1. The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP Types

The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP types are related. This section describes their characteristics, how they are similar, and how they differ.

The DATETIME type is used when you need values that contain both date and time information. MySQL retrieves and displays DATETIME values in 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format. The supported range is '1000-01-01 00:00:00' to '9999-12-31 23:59:59'.

The DATE type is used when you need only a date value, without a time part. MySQL retrieves and displays DATE values in 'YYYY-MM-DD' format. The supported range is '1000-01-01' to '9999-12-31'.

For the DATETIME and DATE range descriptions, “supported” means that although earlier values might work, there is no guarantee.

The TIMESTAMP data type has varying properties, depending on the MySQL version and the SQL mode the server is running in. These properties are described later in this section.

You can specify DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP values using any of a common set of formats:

  • As a string in either 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' or 'YY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' format. A “relaxed” syntax is allowed: Any punctuation character may be used as the delimiter between date parts or time parts. For example, '98-12-31 11:30:45', '98.12.31 11+30+45', '98/12/31 11*30*45', and '98@12@31 11^30^45' are equivalent.

  • As a string in either 'YYYY-MM-DD' or 'YY-MM-DD' format. A “relaxed” syntax is allowed here, too. For example, '98-12-31', '98.12.31', '98/12/31', and '98@12@31' are equivalent.

  • As a string with no delimiters in either 'YYYYMMDDHHMMSS' or 'YYMMDDHHMMSS' format, provided that the string makes sense as a date. For example, '19970523091528' and '970523091528' are interpreted as '1997-05-23 09:15:28', but '971122129015' is illegal (it has a nonsensical minute part) and becomes '0000-00-00 00:00:00'.

  • As a string with no delimiters in either 'YYYYMMDD' or 'YYMMDD' format, provided that the string makes sense as a date. For example, '19970523' and '970523' are interpreted as '1997-05-23', but '971332' is illegal (it has nonsensical month and day parts) and becomes '0000-00-00'.

  • As a number in either YYYYMMDDHHMMSS or YYMMDDHHMMSS format, provided that the number makes sense as a date. For example, 19830905132800 and 830905132800 are interpreted as '1983-09-05 13:28:00'.

  • As a number in either YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD format, provided that the number makes sense as a date. For example, 19830905 and 830905 are interpreted as '1983-09-05'.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a DATETIME, DATE, or TIMESTAMP context, such as NOW() or CURRENT_DATE.

A microseconds part is allowable in temporal values in some contexts, such as in literal values, and in the arguments to or return values from some temporal functions. Microseconds are specified as a trailing .uuuuuu part in the value. Example:

mysql> SELECT MICROSECOND('2010-12-10 14:12:09.019473');
+-------------------------------------------+
| MICROSECOND('2010-12-10 14:12:09.019473') |
+-------------------------------------------+
|                                     19473 | 
+-------------------------------------------+

However, microseconds cannot be stored into a column of any temporal data type. Any microseconds part is discarded.

As of MySQL 5.0.8, conversion of DATETIME values to numeric form (for example, by adding +0) results in a double value with a microseconds part of .000000:

mysql> SELECT NOW(), NOW()+0;
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| NOW()               | NOW()+0               |
+---------------------+-----------------------+
| 2007-04-23 14:21:52 | 20070423142152.000000 | 
+---------------------+-----------------------+

Before MySQL 5.0.8, the conversion results in an integer value with no microseconds part.

Illegal DATETIME, DATE, or TIMESTAMP values are converted to the “zero” value of the appropriate type ('0000-00-00 00:00:00' or '0000-00-00').

For values specified as strings that include date part delimiters, it is not necessary to specify two digits for month or day values that are less than 10. '1979-6-9' is the same as '1979-06-09'. Similarly, for values specified as strings that include time part delimiters, it is not necessary to specify two digits for hour, minute, or second values that are less than 10. '1979-10-30 1:2:3' is the same as '1979-10-30 01:02:03'.

Values specified as numbers should be 6, 8, 12, or 14 digits long. If a number is 8 or 14 digits long, it is assumed to be in YYYYMMDD or YYYYMMDDHHMMSS format and that the year is given by the first 4 digits. If the number is 6 or 12 digits long, it is assumed to be in YYMMDD or YYMMDDHHMMSS format and that the year is given by the first 2 digits. Numbers that are not one of these lengths are interpreted as though padded with leading zeros to the closest length.

Values specified as non-delimited strings are interpreted using their length as given. If the string is 8 or 14 characters long, the year is assumed to be given by the first 4 characters. Otherwise, the year is assumed to be given by the first 2 characters. The string is interpreted from left to right to find year, month, day, hour, minute, and second values, for as many parts as are present in the string. This means you should not use strings that have fewer than 6 characters. For example, if you specify '9903', thinking that represents March, 1999, MySQL inserts a “zero” date value into your table. This occurs because the year and month values are 99 and 03, but the day part is completely missing, so the value is not a legal date. However, you can explicitly specify a value of zero to represent missing month or day parts. For example, you can use '990300' to insert the value '1999-03-00'.

You can to some extent assign values of one date type to an object of a different date type. However, there may be some alteration of the value or loss of information:

  • If you assign a DATE value to a DATETIME or TIMESTAMP object, the time part of the resulting value is set to '00:00:00' because the DATE value contains no time information.

  • If you assign a DATETIME or TIMESTAMP value to a DATE object, the time part of the resulting value is deleted because the DATE type stores no time information.

  • Remember that although DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP values all can be specified using the same set of formats, the types do not all have the same range of values. For example, TIMESTAMP values cannot be earlier than 1970 or later than 2038. This means that a date such as '1968-01-01', while legal as a DATETIME or DATE value, is not valid as a TIMESTAMP value and is converted to 0.

Be aware of certain pitfalls when specifying date values:

  • The relaxed format allowed for values specified as strings can be deceiving. For example, a value such as '10:11:12' might look like a time value because of the ‘:’ delimiter, but if used in a date context is interpreted as the year '2010-11-12'. The value '10:45:15' is converted to '0000-00-00' because '45' is not a legal month.

  • As of 5.0.2, the server requires that month and day values be legal, and not merely in the range 1 to 12 and 1 to 31, respectively. With strict mode disabled, invalid dates such as '2004-04-31' are converted to '0000-00-00' and a warning is generated. With strict mode enabled, invalid dates generate an error. To allow such dates, enable ALLOW_INVALID_DATES. See Section 5.2.6, “SQL Modes”, for more information.

    Before MySQL 5.0.2, the MySQL server performs only basic checking on the validity of a date: The ranges for year, month, and day are 1000 to 9999, 00 to 12, and 00 to 31, respectively. Any date containing parts not within these ranges is subject to conversion to '0000-00-00'. Please note that this still allows you to store invalid dates such as '2002-04-31'. To ensure that a date is valid, you should perform a check in your application.

  • Dates containing two-digit year values are ambiguous because the century is unknown. MySQL interprets two-digit year values using the following rules:

    • Year values in the range 00-69 are converted to 2000-2069.

    • Year values in the range 70-99 are converted to 1970-1999.

11.3.1.1. TIMESTAMP Properties as of MySQL 4.1

Note: In older versions of MySQL (prior to 4.1), the properties of the TIMESTAMP data type differed significantly in many ways from what is described in this section. If you need to convert older TIMESTAMP data to work with MySQL 5.0, be sure to see the MySQL 3.23, 4.0, 4.1 Reference Manual for details.

TIMESTAMP columns are displayed in the same format as DATETIME columns. In other words, the display width is fixed at 19 characters, and the format is YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS.

The MySQL server can be also be run with the MAXDB SQL mode enabled. When the server runs with this mode enabled, TIMESTAMP is identical with DATETIME. That is, if this mode is enabled at the time that a table is created, TIMESTAMP columns are created as DATETIME columns. As a result, such columns use DATETIME display format, have the same range of values, and there is no automatic initialization or updating to the current date and time.

To enable MAXDB mode, set the server SQL mode to MAXDB at startup using the --sql-mode=MAXDB server option or by setting the global sql_mode variable at runtime:

mysql> SET GLOBAL sql_mode=MAXDB;

A client can cause the server to run in MAXDB mode for its own connection as follows:

mysql> SET SESSION sql_mode=MAXDB;

Note that the information in the following discussion applies to TIMESTAMP columns only for tables not created with MAXDB mode enabled, because such columns are created as DATETIME columns.

As of MySQL 5.0.2, MySQL does not accept timestamp values that include a zero in the day or month column or values that are not a valid date. The sole exception to this rule is the special value '0000-00-00 00:00:00'.

You have considerable flexibility in determining when automatic TIMESTAMP initialization and updating occur and which column should have those behaviors:

  • For one TIMESTAMP column in a table, you can assign the current timestamp as the default value and the auto-update value. It is possible to have the current timestamp be the default value for initializing the column, for the auto-update value, or both. It is not possible to have the current timestamp be the default value for one column and the auto-update value for another column.

  • You can specify which TIMESTAMP column to automatically initialize or update to the current date and time. This need not be the first TIMESTAMP column.

The following rules govern initialization and updating of TIMESTAMP columns:

  • If a DEFAULT value is specified for the first TIMESTAMP column in a table, it is not ignored. The default can be CURRENT_TIMESTAMP or a constant date and time value.

  • DEFAULT NULL is the same as DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP for the first TIMESTAMP column. For any other TIMESTAMP column, DEFAULT NULL is treated as DEFAULT 0.

  • Any single TIMESTAMP column in a table can be used as the one that is initialized to the current timestamp or updated automatically.

  • In a CREATE TABLE statement, the first TIMESTAMP column can be declared in any of the following ways:

    • With both DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP and ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clauses, the column has the current timestamp for its default value, and is automatically updated.

    • With neither DEFAULT nor ON UPDATE clauses, it is the same as DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP.

    • With a DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause and no ON UPDATE clause, the column has the current timestamp for its default value but is not automatically updated.

    • With no DEFAULT clause and with an ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause, the column has a default of 0 and is automatically updated.

    • With a constant DEFAULT value, the column has the given default. If the column has an ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP clause, it is automatically updated, otherwise not.

    In other words, you can use the current timestamp for both the initial value and the auto-update value, or either one, or neither. (For example, you can specify ON UPDATE to enable auto-update without also having the column auto-initialized.)

  • CURRENT_TIMESTAMP or any of its synonyms (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP(), NOW(), LOCALTIME, LOCALTIME(), LOCALTIMESTAMP, or LOCALTIMESTAMP()) can be used in the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE clauses. They all mean “the current timestamp.” (UTC_TIMESTAMP is not allowed. Its range of values does not align with those of the TIMESTAMP column anyway unless the current time zone is UTC.)

  • The order of the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE attributes does not matter. If both DEFAULT and ON UPDATE are specified for a TIMESTAMP column, either can precede the other. For example, these statements are equivalent:

    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP);
    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                                 ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
    CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                                 DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
  • To specify automatic default or updating for a TIMESTAMP column other than the first one, you must suppress the automatic initialization and update behaviors for the first TIMESTAMP column by explicitly assigning it a constant DEFAULT value (for example, DEFAULT 0 or DEFAULT '2003-01-01 00:00:00'). Then, for the other TIMESTAMP column, the rules are the same as for the first TIMESTAMP column, except that if you omit both of the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE clauses, no automatic initialization or updating occurs.

    Example. These statements are equivalent:

    CREATE TABLE t (
        ts1 TIMESTAMP DEFAULT 0,
        ts2 TIMESTAMP DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                      ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);
    CREATE TABLE t (
        ts1 TIMESTAMP DEFAULT 0,
        ts2 TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
                      DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

You can set the current time zone on a per-connection basis, as described in Section 5.10.8, “MySQL Server Time Zone Support”. TIMESTAMP values are stored in UTC, being converted from the current time zone for storage, and converted back to the current time zone upon retrieval. As long as the time zone setting remains constant, you get back the same value you store. If you store a TIMESTAMP value, and then change the time zone and retrieve the value, the retrieved value is different than the value you stored. This occurs because the same time zone was not used for conversion in both directions. The current time zone is available as the value of the time_zone system variable.

You can include the NULL attribute in the definition of a TIMESTAMP column to allow the column to contain NULL values. For example:

CREATE TABLE t
(
  ts1 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT NULL,
  ts2 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT 0,
  ts3 TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP
);

If the NULL attribute is not specified, setting the column to NULL sets it to the current timestamp. Note that a TIMESTAMP column which allows NULL values will not take on the current timestamp except under one of the following conditions:

  • Its default value is defined as CURRENT_TIMESTAMP

  • NOW() or CURRENT_TIMESTAMP is inserted into the column

In other words, a TIMESTAMP column defined as NULL will auto-initialize only if it is created using a definition such as the following:

CREATE TABLE t (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

Otherwise — that is, if the TIMESTAMP column is defined to allow NULL values but not using DEFAULT TIMESTAMP, as shown here…

CREATE TABLE t1 (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT NULL);
CREATE TABLE t2 (ts TIMESTAMP NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00');

…then you must explicitly insert a value corresponding to the current date and time. For example:

INSERT INTO t1 VALUES (NOW());
INSERT INTO t2 VALUES (CURRENT_TIMESTAMP);

Note that TIMESTAMP columns are NOT NULL by default.

11.3.2. The TIME Type

MySQL retrieves and displays TIME values in 'HH:MM:SS' format (or 'HHH:MM:SS' format for large hours values). TIME values may range from '-838:59:59' to '838:59:59'. The hours part may be so large because the TIME type can be used not only to represent a time of day (which must be less than 24 hours), but also elapsed time or a time interval between two events (which may be much greater than 24 hours, or even negative).

You can specify TIME values in a variety of formats:

  • As a string in 'D HH:MM:SS.fraction' format. You can also use one of the following “relaxed” syntaxes: 'HH:MM:SS.fraction', 'HH:MM:SS', 'HH:MM', 'D HH:MM:SS', 'D HH:MM', 'D HH', or 'SS'. Here D represents days and can have a value from 0 to 34. Note that MySQL does not store the fraction part.

  • As a string with no delimiters in 'HHMMSS' format, provided that it makes sense as a time. For example, '101112' is understood as '10:11:12', but '109712' is illegal (it has a nonsensical minute part) and becomes '00:00:00'.

  • As a number in HHMMSS format, provided that it makes sense as a time. For example, 101112 is understood as '10:11:12'. The following alternative formats are also understood: SS, MMSS, HHMMSS, HHMMSS.fraction. Note that MySQL does not store the fraction part.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a TIME context, such as CURRENT_TIME.

A trailing .uuuuuu microseconds part of TIME values is allowed under the same conditions as for other temporal values, as described in Section 11.3.1, “The DATETIME, DATE, and TIMESTAMP Types”. This includes the property that any microseconds part is discarded from values stored into TIME columns.

For TIME values specified as strings that include a time part delimiter, it is not necessary to specify two digits for hours, minutes, or seconds values that are less than 10. '8:3:2' is the same as '08:03:02'.

Be careful about assigning abbreviated values to a TIME column. Without colons, MySQL interprets values using the assumption that the two rightmost digits represent seconds. (MySQL interprets TIME values as elapsed time rather than as time of day.) For example, you might think of '1112' and 1112 as meaning '11:12:00' (12 minutes after 11 o'clock), but MySQL interprets them as '00:11:12' (11 minutes, 12 seconds). Similarly, '12' and 12 are interpreted as '00:00:12'. TIME values with colons, by contrast, are always treated as time of the day. That is, '11:12' mean '11:12:00', not '00:11:12'.

By default, values that lie outside the TIME range but are otherwise legal are clipped to the closest endpoint of the range. For example, '-850:00:00' and '850:00:00' are converted to '-838:59:59' and '838:59:59'. Illegal TIME values are converted to '00:00:00'. Note that because '00:00:00' is itself a legal TIME value, there is no way to tell, from a value of '00:00:00' stored in a table, whether the original value was specified as '00:00:00' or whether it was illegal.

For more restrictive treatment of invalid TIME values, enable strict SQL mode to cause errors to occur. See Section 5.2.6, “SQL Modes”.

11.3.3. The YEAR Type

The YEAR type is a one-byte type used for representing years.

MySQL retrieves and displays YEAR values in YYYY format. The range is 1901 to 2155.

You can specify YEAR values in a variety of formats:

  • As a four-digit string in the range '1901' to '2155'.

  • As a four-digit number in the range 1901 to 2155.

  • As a two-digit string in the range '00' to '99'. Values in the ranges '00' to '69' and '70' to '99' are converted to YEAR values in the ranges 2000 to 2069 and 1970 to 1999.

  • As a two-digit number in the range 1 to 99. Values in the ranges 1 to 69 and 70 to 99 are converted to YEAR values in the ranges 2001 to 2069 and 1970 to 1999. Note that the range for two-digit numbers is slightly different from the range for two-digit strings, because you cannot specify zero directly as a number and have it be interpreted as 2000. You must specify it as a string '0' or '00' or it is interpreted as 0000.

  • As the result of a function that returns a value that is acceptable in a YEAR context, such as NOW().

Illegal YEAR values are converted to 0000.

11.3.4. Year 2000 Issues and Date Types

MySQL Server itself has no problems with Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance:

  • MySQL Server uses Unix time functions that handle dates into the year 2038 for TIMESTAMP values. For DATE and DATETIME values, dates through the year 9999 are accepted.

  • All MySQL date functions are implemented in one source file, sql/time.cc, and are coded very carefully to be year 2000-safe.

  • In MySQL, the YEAR data type can store the years 0 and 1901 to 2155 in one byte and display them using two or four digits. All two-digit years are considered to be in the range 1970 to 2069, which means that if you store 01 in a YEAR column, MySQL Server treats it as 2001.

Although MySQL Server itself is Y2K-safe, you may run into problems if you use it with applications that are not Y2K-safe. For example, many old applications store or manipulate years using two-digit values (which are ambiguous) rather than four-digit values. This problem may be compounded by applications that use values such as 00 or 99 as “missing” value indicators. Unfortunately, these problems may be difficult to fix because different applications may be written by different programmers, each of whom may use a different set of conventions and date-handling functions.

Thus, even though MySQL Server has no Y2K problems, it is the application's responsibility to provide unambiguous input. Any value containing a two-digit year is ambiguous, because the century is unknown. Such values must be interpreted into four-digit form because MySQL stores years internally using four digits.

For DATETIME, DATE, TIMESTAMP, and YEAR types, MySQL interprets dates with ambiguous year values using the following rules:

  • Year values in the range 00-69 are converted to 2000-2069.

  • Year values in the range 70-99 are converted to 1970-1999.

Remember that these rules are only heuristics that provide reasonable guesses as to what your data values mean. If the rules used by MySQL do not produce the correct values, you should provide unambiguous input containing four-digit year values.

ORDER BY properly sorts YEAR values that have two-digit years.

Some functions like MIN() and MAX() convert a YEAR to a number. This means that a value with a two-digit year does not work properly with these functions. The fix in this case is to convert the TIMESTAMP or YEAR to four-digit year format.

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