Compare strings by case

Here’s one method of comparing strings by case in MySQL. You can use the md5 function to hash the string and compare to its lower case value.

This example is for checking for usernames that are not lower case in moodle.

select username, md5(username), md5(lower(username))
from mdl_user
where deleted = 0 and suspended = 0
and md5(username) != md5(lower(username));

If the md5 hash when the string is lower cased is different to the current md5 hash it will be returned and indicates a mismatch.

The md5 hash is also handy when comparing values that might have invisible characters in them.

Force Password Change

Force password change is set in the mdl_user_preferences table with the value auth_forcepasswordchange. A value of 0 means a password change is not required while a 1 means the user will be forced to change their password. This value will typically not exist at all until a user is forced to change their password at least once.

If you ever need to bulk-force password change across all users in the system (e.g. for security reasons), you can add the auth_forcepasswordchange option to the mdl_user_preferences with a value of 1 if it doesn't exist, or simply update it from 0 to 1 if it does. Remember this is only relevant to internal authentication methods such as the default manual authentication method.

Debug Values

The following is a list of the numeric values to set the value of the debug field (either through $CFG->debug in config.php or the debug value in the in the mdl_config table).

To change in the database, run the following SQL statement:

update mdl_config set value = {appropriate value} where name = 'debug';

This will usually also require a purge of the Moodle cache.

Unix Timestamps

As you start developing in Moodle you'll quickly find that Unix timestamps are used everywhere in fields like timemodified, timecreated etc.

It can be handy to know how to deal with these at the database level.

MySQL and MariaDB

To convert a standard date to unix timestamp format (note this won't include timezone)

select unix_timestamp('2019-01-01')

If you need the timezone (presuming your database is set to the correct timezone, otherwise you'll need to adjust SYSTEM to the relevant timezone).

select unix_timestamp(convert_tz('2019-01-01', '+00:00', 'SYSTEM'))

To convert a unix timestamp to standard date format (UTC timezone)

select from_unixtime(1546300800)

Remember this doesn't take into account the timezone and will return the timezone as UTC, so you might need to add/subtract your timezone offset in seconds. E.g. GMT+11 = 11 hours * 60 minutes in an hour * 60 seconds in a minute = 39,600 seconds.

select from_unixtime(1546300800-(11*60*60)

To get the current date only (no timestamp):

select unix_timestamp(curdate());

To get the current date and time

select unix_timestamp(now());


To convert a standard date to unix timestamp format (with timezone):

select extract(epoch from timestamp '2019-01-01')

To convert a unix timestamp to standard date format (with timezone):

select to_timestamp('1546300800');

To get the current date (no timestamp)

select trunc(extract(epoch from current_date));

To get the current date and time (this will include your timezone)

select trunc(extract(epoch from now()));

Query the Grade Scale Value

Grade scales are stored in the mdl_scale table, however they are stored as a comma-separated list in the scale column, which makes them quite difficult to query directly from the database. Because the grade is just a number (e.g. 1, 2, 3), it is far more useful to show the corresponding grade scale grade description.

For example, the grade scale might have the following value stored in the scale column (formatted for readability with index):

So a final grade of 2 would translate to Separate and connected if using this grade scale.

You can use the substring_index function in MySQL or MariaDB to perform a look up of the corresponding grade scale value (grade description) using the grade value.

    trim(substring_index(substring_index(scale, ',', 2), ',', -1))
	id = 1;

Simply, replace the index in the inner substring_index call with the appropriate grade value (e.g. 1, 2, or 3) for this scale and it will give you corresponding grade scale grade description.

Dates before Unix Epoch

If you use a custom user profile field with a date and want to store a date that falls before Unix Epoch (01/01/1970) (e.g. a date of birth), the data will be stored as a negative number.

For example, a date of birth of 20/11/1959 is stored as -319284000 which means 319,284,000 seconds before 01/01/1970.

In MySQL/MariaDB you can convert these with the following SQL which works for both scenarios (before and after epoch, 01/01/1970) making it ideal when you can have either case.

select date_add(from_unixtime(0), interval data second) 
from mdl_user_info_field
You will need to also add the relevant custom user profile field id that stores the date field you are working with.

If you just want the date without the timestamp:

select date(date_add(from_unixtime(0), interval data second)) 
from mdl_user_info_field

Disk Usage by Course

The following query provides a summary of the disk space usage (in bytes) and number of files used by each course in the system from the mdl_files meta table for the data directory / file store.

This is just for the space used in the data directory (not the database) but that is usually where most of the disk usage happens (e.g. multimedia resources associated with the course).

    c.fullname as course_full_name,
    c.shortname as course_short_name,
    sum(f.filesize) as size_in_bytes,
    sum(case when (f.filesize > 0) then 1 else 0 end) as number_of_files
    mdl_files f inner join mdl_context x
    on f.contextid =
    and x.contextlevel = 50
    inner join mdl_course c
    on = x.instanceid
group by 
    f.contextid, x.instanceid
order by 
    sum(filesize) desc
NOTE: context level 50 refers to courses.

Query Block Instances and Positions

The following query gives you an idea of all the moodle blocks that have been added to various pages on your site and where they are positioned:

select bi.*, bp.*, x.*
from mdl_block_instances bi inner join mdl_block_positions bp
on = bp.blockinstanceid
inner join mdl_context x
on = bp.contextid
order by bi.blockname;

Very handy if you have a block that is causing you problems e.g. not fully uninstalled or visible to users.

The pagetypepattern e.g. *, site_index, my-index, course-view-* tells you which page types the block will be shown on, while the pagetype gives you the specific instances where it appears.

The context information at the end can also tell you the contextlevel (e.g. 50 = course, 70 = module) and the instance of that context (e.g. x.instanceid = 2 means course id 2 if the contextlevel is 50 (course context).

Get a list of Site Administrators

The following SQL will help you see which users are site admins in a MySQL/MariaDB database using the find_in_set function to query the values listed in the mdl_config siteadmins key-value.

select u.* 
from mdl_user u
    find_in_set(, (select value from mdl_config where name = 'siteadmins'))

Note you need to use find_in_set instead of the in operator which doesn’t handle the commas returned to separate each siteadmin’s user ID.

Antelope to Barracuda File Format

During your upgrades or on the Server Environment Checks page, you might see a message like this:

unsupported_db_table_row_format if this test fails, it indicates a potential problem.
Your database has tables using Antelope as the file format. You are recommended to convert the tables to the Barracuda file format. See the documentation Administration via command line for details of a tool for converting InnoDB tables to Barracuda.

This message is advising you should move to the better InnoDB Barracuda format on MySQL and MariaDB.

From the MySQL documentation:

To perform the table upgrades, you use the Moodle CLI and run the following commands (prefix with sudo if required):

Script for detection of row size problems in MySQL InnoDB tables.

By default InnoDB storage table is using legacy Antelope file format
which has major restriction on database row size.
Use this script to detect and fix database tables with potential data
overflow problems.

-i, --info            Show database information
-l, --list            List problematic tables
-f, --fix             Attempt to fix all tables (requires SUPER privilege)
-s, --showsql         Print SQL statements for fixing of tables
-h, --help            Print out this help

First check for problematic tables:

php admin/cli/mysql_compressed_rows.php -l

The -l parameter lists tables that need compacting/compressing e.g.

mdl_data                        Compact     (needs fixing)
mdl_data_fields                 Compact     (needs fixing)
mdl_enrol_paypal                Compact     (needs fixing)
mdl_lti                         Compact     (needs fixing)
mdl_user                        Compact     (needs fixing)
mdl_user_info_field             Compact     (needs fixing)

To fix, run the command with the -f fix paramter.

NOTE: this can be database intensive so avoid running during high load periods or when there are a lot of active users on the site. Ideally you should do this during an outage in maintenance mode.
php admin/cli/mysql_compressed_rows.php -f

mdl_data                         ... Compressed
mdl_data_fields                  ... Compressed
mdl_enrol_paypal                 ... Compressed
mdl_lti                          ... Compressed
mdl_user                         ... Compressed
mdl_user_info_field              ... Compressed

To confirm all is well, run the list command again or check the environments page. There is also a handy -i parameter to check your database platform details:

php admin/cli/mysql_compressed_rows.php -i
Database version:      5.7.23-log
Database name:         moodle
Database engine:       InnoDB
innodb_file_per_table: ON
innodb_file_format:    Barracuda

Assigning Site Administrations through the Database

The following steps can be used to add your user as a siteadmin in the database if required.

Step 1: Find your moodle user ID

select id from mdl_user 
where username = '{username}';

Step 2: Get the list of current siteadmin IDs

select value from mdl_config where name = 'siteadmins';

This gives you a list of Moodle user ids in a list that are siteadmins. What you want to do is append your Moodle user ID to the end of the list (assuming it isn’t there already!).

Step 3: Add your moodle user id to the list

You can do this manually, simple add ',{your_moodle_userid}' to the text or you can use a query like this:

select concat(value, ',', (select id from mdl_user where username = '{username}'))
from mdl_config
where name = 'siteadmins';

Step 4: Update the siteadmin list

The following SQL does the deed of updating the list of siteadmins so be very careful. Ues the results from step 3 to perform this update. If anything goes wrong use the results from step 2 to revert the changes.

update mdl_config
set value = '{list_of_siteadmins_with_your_moodle_userid}'
where name = 'siteadmins';

Too Many Connections

When your Moodle database is overloaded you might see errors like this (MySQL/MariaDB) in your PHP error log and a similar message in your MySQL/MariaDB log.

mysqli::mysqli(): (HY000/1040): Too many connections in /lib/dml/mysqli_native_moodle_database.php on line 376
mysqli::mysqli(): (08004/1040): Too many connections in /lib/dml/mysqli_native_moodle_database.php on line 376

This indicates you have reached your max_connections settings.

Check in MySQL with an appropriately privileged account e.g. root.

mysql> SELECT @@max_connections;
| @@max_connections |
|               200 |

Also check how many are in use using:

mysql> SHOW STATUS LIKE 'max_used_connections';
| Variable_name        | Value |
| Max_used_connections | 16    |

This definied in your my.cnf configuration e.g. under /etc/my.cnf though it may not be set and you may need to add it as a setting.

max_connections                = 200
NOTE: you can set this in the mysql client while it is online if you don't want to do a DB restart e.g. SET GLOBAL max_connections = 200; but but aware this will be cleared next restart so make sure you also update my.cnf.

Repeating Rows in MySQL and MariaDB

You might come across a need to repeat a row a set number of times in your SQL. There's an easy way to do this but you first need to create a numbers table with just one column which is a count starting at 1 and up to whatever number you need. For this example I'll use 10, purely to save space but you would just increase this to any suitable value.

CREATE TABLE `numbers` (
  `count` int(2) DEFAULT NULL

INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (1);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (2);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (3);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (4);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (5);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (6);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (7);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (8);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (9);
INSERT INTO `numbers` VALUES (10);

Nopw we have a table we can join our rows against up to the count stored in the numbers table. Lets take a trivial example. Say I want to repeat the rows for a user in the user table 10 times. Here's how you would do this:

select * 
from mdl_user u join numbers n
on n.count <= 10
where = 2;

This will repeat the same row in the user table for the user with id equals 2 10 times.