Taken from http://stackoverflow.com/a/409305/1089331
Timestamps in MySQL generally used to track changes to records, and are updated every time the record is changed. If you want to store a specific value you should use a datetime field.
If you meant that you want to decide between using a UNIX timestamp or a native MySQL datetime field, go with the native format. You can do calculations within MySQL that way
("SELECT DATE_ADD(my_datetime, INTERVAL 1 DAY)")and it is simple to change the format of the value to a UNIX timestamp
("SELECT UNIX_TIMESTAMP(my_datetime)")when you query the record if you want to operate on it with PHP.
- blivet, stackoverflow.com
An important difference is that
DATETIMErepresents a date (as found in a calendar) and a time (as can be observed on a wall clock), while
TIMESTAMPrepresents a well defined point in time. This could be very important if your application handles time zones. How long ago was '2010-09-01 16:31:00'? It depends on what timezone you're in. For me it was just a few seconds ago, for you it may represent a time in the future. If I say 1283351460 seconds since '1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC', you know exactly what point in time I talk about. (See Nir's excellent answer below). [Downside: valid range].
- MattBianco, stackoverflow.com
In MYSQL 5 and above, TIMESTAMP values are converted from the current time zone to UTC for storage, and converted back from UTC to the current time zone for retrieval. (This occurs only for the TIMESTAMP data type, and not for other types such as DATETIME.)
By default, the current time zone for each connection is the server's time. The time zone can be set on a per-connection basis, as described here: MySQL Server Time Zone Support
- Nir, stackoverflow.com
I always use DATETIME fields for anything other than row metadata (date created or modified).
As mentioned in the MySQL documentation: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'.You're quite likely to hit the lower limit on TIMESTAMPs in general use -- e.g. storing birthdate.
The TIMESTAMP data type has a range of '1970-01-01 00:00:01' UTC to '2038-01-09 03:14:07' UTC. It has varying properties, depending on the MySQL version and the SQL mode the server is running in.
- scronide, stackoverflow.com