Awhile back I had to insert tons of data into a MySQL database. The app had already been built and using a different database was not an option. The dataset I was creating was massive. I needed to create 100k or more records.

I attempted to do this with a nice clean ActiveRecord statement:

100000.times do |record|
    attribute_1: "attribute 1",
    attribute_2: "attribute 2",
    attribute_20: "attribute_20"

The results were not pretty. Although I didn't hit any timeouts, the query was taking HOURS - and likely would have timed out on a server that had less memory than my VM. This was not going to work because this was just one part of a module I was writing that needed to run.

I spent a lot of time researching creating lots of records at once and decided there was only one conclusion — the solution was MySQL batch insert. Note: this method will not work if you have complicated callbacks that need to run after each record is created. Here's how I handled the situation:

# setup the array to hold the values for the batch insert
record_values = []

# for this case we will pretend we have an array that needs to be sorted into readable data
record_data.each do |record|
  record_values << "('#{record.something}','#{record.something_else}','#{}'...'#{record.attribute_20})"

# set the number of records you want MySQL to handle at once. Too many records and MySQL will run out of memory
batch_size = 20000

# create a while loop to batch insert the records
while !record_values.empty?
  # use shift to move down the array based on batch size
  record_values_shitfted = record_values.shift(batch_size)
  # create the required sql string
  record_values_sql = "INSERT INTO records(attribute_1, attribute_2, attribute_3...attribute_20) VALUES#{record_values_shifted.join(", ")}"
  # execute sql

This was infinitely faster than ActiveRecord could be and unfortunately it doesn't have a way to do a batch insert. Sometimes straight up MySQL is faster and better than ActiveRecord.