[C#] Easily Convert All MySQL Databases & Tables to utf8mb4

A C# console program that will convert default character set of all database and tables to utf8mb4 and collation of utf8mb4_general_ci.

Download: Convert-MySQL-Table-Charset-utf8mb4.zip

Github project link: https://github.com/adriancs2/Convert-MySQL-To-utf8mb4

Read more on default MySQL charset and collation: https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/8.0/en/charset.html

I have written this project for easily convert old (legacy) MySQL databases & tables to utf8mb4.

Why this project?

utf8mb4 is the default character set started in MySQL 8. It has the best support for all the language characters of the world, including emoji characters etc. Thus, using utf8mb4 has the best compatible if your application uses variety of unicode characters.

The aim of this small project is to provide a quick and simple solution that can perform a batch conversion throughout all the databases and tables from old projects at once.

Here is what it does:

The idea is basically get the list of databases, then loop through the database and get the tables. Perform a loop on all tables and check it’s default character set, if it is not utf8mb4, then convert it one by one.

This SQL statement will get the list of databases available in MySQL server:

SELECT * FROM information_schema.SCHEMATA;

In C#,

using (MySqlConnection conn = new MySqlConnection(constr))
    using (MySqlCommand cmd = new MySqlCommand())
        cmd.Connection = conn;

        DataTable dtDatabase = new DataTable();

        cmd.CommandText = "SELECT * FROM information_schema.SCHEMATA;";
        MySqlDataAdapter da1 = new MySqlDataAdapter(cmd);


This will return a table that has the following column details:


Here, character set can be checked. If it is not set to utf8mb4, then it will be modified.

But first, the following databases are needed to be ignored, as they are MySQL readonly specific info:

  • information_schema
  • mysql
  • performance_schema
  • sys

The SQL statement for conversion of database character set:

ALTER DATABASE `{database name}` CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_general_ci; 

In C#,

foreach (DataRow dr in dtDatabase.Rows)
    string database = dr["SCHEMA_NAME"] + "";

    // ignore
    switch (database)
        case "information_schema":
        case "mysql":
        case "performance_schema":
        case "sys":

    string db_charset = dr["DEFAULT_CHARACTER_SET_NAME"] + "";
    string db_collation = dr["DEFAULT_COLLATION_NAME"] + "";

    if (db_charset == "utf8mb4" && db_collation == "utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci")
        // do nothing
        cmd.CommandText = $"ALTER DATABASE `{database}` CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci;";

Next, is to obtain the list of tables with the following SQL statement:

show table status; 

In C#,

cmd.CommandText = $"use `{database}`";

DataTable dtTables = new DataTable();

cmd.CommandText = "show table status;";
MySqlDataAdapter da2 = new MySqlDataAdapter(cmd);

Then, loop through each table to obtain the following column value:

  • Name = the table’s name
  • Collation = the collation character set

The SQL statement for conversion of table’s character set:

ALTER TABLE `{tablename}` CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci; 

In C#,

foreach (DataRow dr2 in dtTables.Rows)
    string tablename = dr2["Name"] + "";
    string tableCollation = dr2["Collation"] + "";

    if (tableCollation != "utf8mb4_general_ci")
            cmd.CommandText = $"ALTER TABLE `{tablename}` CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci;";
        catch (Exception ex)
            // log the error