Dev Null = Unlimited Scale

It occurred to me today while watching a discussion about MySQL vs. MongoDB that there needs to be more documentation about the performance of the Dev Null database, and its open source derivatives. MongoDB fanboys should be aware that it offers the following features:

  • 100% non-blocking
  • Unlimited horizontal scalability
  • Unlimited vertical scalability
  • Supports Sharding
  • Supports Clustering
  • Exceeds write performance of all other databases
  • Unparalleled concurrency support
  • Write-and-forget

Here is a chart that illustrates write latency and throughput with various different thread concurrency:

As you can see, as the number of concurrent writers increases, throughput increases proportionally. No matter how many threads run concurrently, latency remains at zero.

Support in MySQLMySQL Logo

You may be thrilled to know that this data storage system is fully supported in MySQL using the Blackhole Storage Engine written by Brian Aker. Anyone considering MongoDB should give this alternative some consideration, as it exhibits the same level of data loss for new data pending writes before a node failure. Plus, MySQL has been around for a long time, and this storage engine is the single most reliable storage engine that MySQL ever produced.

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  • Nicolas says:

    Do not forget its amazing security scheme – Once data is in, nobody can steal it!

  • Adrian Otto says:

    Absolutely! This is the write-only mode that’s built into the system. This is the default mode.

  • Tom-Eric says:

    Is it web scale?

  • Holger says:

    Don’t forget there is also a cloud DB variant of /dev/null

  • Daniel says:

    Dev Null is awesome! Now I use it as a backup of my production MySQL (since it accepts SQL statements just as well). Every night it loads a backup dump of our 230GB database in just under a minute!

  • Adrian Otto says:

    I love hearing Dev Null success stories like this one!!

  • Paulo says:

    It’s the storage efficiency that really persuaded our organisation to migrate from InnoDB to Dev Null.

  • bisho says:

    And it supports compression ratios up to infinite!!!

  • MC Rain says:

    It also indexes every key in constant time, sorts instantaneously, and hashes perfectly with no collisions.

  • Ganz says:

    While I have to admit that it’s very fast, I’m having trouble retrieving data from our nightly /dev/null backups. I noticed the security note above – how do I get read privileges?

    Our production site is down until I resolve this issue. Can you help me please?

  • Adrian Otto says:


    The Dell Null database is a write-only resource, sorry. If you are using Linux, you can consult the “null” man page with the “man null” CLI command.



  • Du Mass says:

    Does dev null support sharding?

  • Adrian Otto says:

    Du Mass,

    I’m so glad you asked!! Yes, it supports sharding! Plus, it’s totally automatic. Simply begin writing a fraction of your data to Dev Null on each of your cluster nodes. That’s it! You won’t find another sharding scheme that’s simpler than that.


  • SpittingCAML says:

    Excellent video! MONGO FANBOIS beware! :-)

  • A. D. Klerk says:

    Can anyone tell me if this will be a good replacement for our Microsoft SQL Servers? We need something faster for our county education databases.
    Also, what support options are available?

  • Adrian Otto says:

    As far as I know nobody is offering commercial support for /dev/null directly. If you learn of anyone offering support, please post the information back here. With that said, you can get support from Oracle/MySQL for the Blackhole Storage Engine. They also have consulting services available, so you might ask them if this is a good fit for replacing your Microsoft solution based on your individual needs.

  • Krish says:


    We starting a company to support thriving /dev/nullDB community, we are based in all major cities and from day 1 1024 employees strong. We offer silver/gold/platinum support, and we have our own version of /dev/null that contains quite a few bug fixes and performance enhancements.

    For more information call 1-985-655-2500 or visit


  • Adrian Otto says:

    I am so very thrilled to hear this! Your video is amazing. I love the theme song.

  • Mikal Jones says:

    Truly fantastic! I moved all my data over to /dev/null and it went soooo smooth! This is GREAT! I encourage everyone looking for an alternative to outdated bloated dinosaurs like MySQL to try this. Just move anything you want to store to /dev/null and you are good to go!

  • Marc Smoookler says:

    omg this is just like the db you designed at Fonality. so nice to see it finallly documented tho.
    misss uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

  • JamesD says:

    Whilst /dev/null is a great DB, I believe it was based on work done by IBM in the 60’s for Mainframe JCL. In those days (and I used it extensively then) it was called “DD DUMMY” this had massive advantages over other datasets as you didn’t need to pre-allocate space, worry about data structures or anything. Good to see that no matter how sophisticated programming techniques become, simple ideas, well implemented can still perform superbly.

  • Andrew says:

    The sarcasm here is so thick it’s almost palpable.

  • Anton says:

    Wondeful, you are my big hero, I am an apprentice programmer who want to do cool stuff like you when I grow up.

  • rcoli says:

    The WORN data access pattern truly shines at web scale. Write Once, Read Never!


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