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how do people usually assign their IDs to primary keys in a table?

how do i reset the last_insert_id variable?

and let's say i have five rows in a table having auto_increment IDs ranging from 1 - 5. i deleted the row with ID = 4. now when i insert a new row, how do i get it to assign an ID = 4 instead of ID = 5? as in, how do i search through the column and determine and unused number so that i can use it? is there a built in function for that?

cheers, joannou.

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