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8.13. mysqldump — A Database Backup Program

The mysqldump client is a backup program originally written by Igor Romanenko. It can be used to dump a database or a collection of databases for backup or transfer to another SQL server (not necessarily a MySQL server). The dump typically contains SQL statements to create the table, populate it, or both. However, mysqldump can also be used to generate files in CSV, other delimited text, or XML format.

If you are doing a backup on the server and your tables all are MyISAM tables, consider using the mysqlhotcopy instead because it can accomplish faster backups and faster restores. See Section 8.14, “mysqlhotcopy — A Database Backup Program”.

There are three general ways to invoke mysqldump:

shell> mysqldump [options] db_name [tables]
shell> mysqldump [options] --databases db_name1 [db_name2 db_name3...]
shell> mysqldump [options] --all-databases

If you do not name any tables following db_name or if you use the --databases or --all-databases option, entire databases are dumped.

To get a list of the options your version of mysqldump supports, execute mysqldump --help.

Some mysqldump options are shorthand for groups of other options. --opt and --compact fall into this category. For example, use of --opt is the same as specifying --add-drop-table --add-locks --create-options --disable-keys --extended-insert --lock-tables --quick --set-charset. Note that all of the options that --opt stands for also are on by default because --opt is on by default.

To reverse the effect of a group option, uses its --skip-xxx form (--skip-opt or --skip-compact). It is also possible to select only part of the effect of a group option by following it with options that enable or disable specific features. Here are some examples:

When you selectively enable or disable the effect of a group option, order is important because options are processed first to last. For example, --disable-keys --lock-tables --skip-opt would not have the intended effect; it is the same as --skip-opt by itself.

mysqldump can retrieve and dump table contents row by row, or it can retrieve the entire content from a table and buffer it in memory before dumping it. Buffering in memory can be a problem if you are dumping large tables. To dump tables row by row, use the --quick option (or --opt, which enables --quick). --opt (and hence --quick) is enabled by default as of MySQL 5.0 to enable memory buffering, use --skip-quick.

If you are using a recent version of mysqldump to generate a dump to be reloaded into a very old MySQL server, you should not use the --opt or --extended-insert option. Use --skip-opt instead.

Before MySQL 4.1.2, out-of-range numeric values such as -inf and inf, as well as NaN (not-a-number) values are dumped by mysqldump as NULL. You can see this using the following sample table:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t (f DOUBLE);
mysql> INSERT INTO t VALUES(1e+111111111111111111111);
mysql> INSERT INTO t VALUES(-1e111111111111111111111);
mysql> SELECT f FROM t;
+------+
| f    |
+------+
|  inf |
| -inf |
+------+

For this table, mysqldump produces the following data output:

--
-- Dumping data for table `t`
--

INSERT INTO t VALUES (NULL);
INSERT INTO t VALUES (NULL);

The significance of this behavior is that if you dump and restore the table, the new table has contents that differ from the original contents. This problem is fixed as of MySQL 4.1.2; you cannot insert inf in the table, so this mysqldump behavior is only relevant when you deal with old servers.

mysqldump supports the following options:

You can also set the following variables by using --var_name=value syntax:

It is also possible to set variables by using --set-variable=var_name=value or -O var_name=value syntax. This syntax is deprecated.

The most common use of mysqldump is probably for making a backup of an entire database:

shell> mysqldump db_name > backup-file.sql

You can read the dump file back into the server like this:

shell> mysql db_name < backup-file.sql

Or like this:

shell> mysql -e "source /path-to-backup/backup-file.sql" db_name

mysqldump is also very useful for populating databases by copying data from one MySQL server to another:

shell> mysqldump --opt db_name | mysql --host=remote_host -C db_name

It is possible to dump several databases with one command:

shell> mysqldump --databases db_name1 [db_name2 ...] > my_databases.sql

To dump all databases, use the --all-databases option:

shell> mysqldump --all-databases > all_databases.sql

For InnoDB tables, mysqldump provides a way of making an online backup:

shell> mysqldump --all-databases --single-transaction > all_databases.sql

This backup just needs to acquire a global read lock on all tables (using FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK) at the beginning of the dump. As soon as this lock has been acquired, the binary log coordinates are read and the lock is released. If and only if one long updating statement is running when the FLUSH statement is issued, the MySQL server may get stalled until that long statement finishes, and then the dump becomes lock-free. If the update statements that the MySQL server receives are short (in terms of execution time), the initial lock period should not be noticeable, even with many updates.

For point-in-time recovery (also known as “roll-forward,” when you need to restore an old backup and replay the changes that happened since that backup), it is often useful to rotate the binary log (see Section 5.11.3, “The Binary Log”) or at least know the binary log coordinates to which the dump corresponds:

shell> mysqldump --all-databases --master-data=2 > all_databases.sql

Or:

shell> mysqldump --all-databases --flush-logs --master-data=2
              > all_databases.sql

The --master-data and --single-transaction options can be used simultaneously, which provides a convenient way to make an online backup suitable for point-in-time recovery if tables are stored using the InnoDB storage engine.

For more information on making backups, see Section 5.9.1, “Database Backups”, and Section 5.9.2, “Example Backup and Recovery Strategy”.

If you encounter problems backing up views, please read the section that covers restrictions on views which describes a workaround for backing up views when this fails due to insufficient privileges. See Section F.4, “Restrictions on Views”.

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