Sunday, 13 August 2017

How to have a higher chance of success when restoring a big MySQL database

Restoring a MySQL database is fast and easy when you just copy files in datadir when the server is shutdown, or if you use Percona xtrabackup.

But if you for some reason (AWS RDS) only have MySQL protocol available for backup, you usually can have a compressed mysqldump, that is quite slow to restore, not because of the compression or because the decompressed version is a text file that needs to be parsed, but because MySQL is slow to push it through it's disk pipeline, and because it needs to build data indexes while doing a restore.

I've spent multiple days babysitting the process of restoring a 7GB gzip compressed MySQL dump file, and these are results and tips that could help you save some time.

So, make sure that:
- you have enough IO available: For restoring a 66 GB datadir 315.6 GB was written to the drive (as measured with iostat), with a tuned MySQL configuration. For a DB of this size a mechanical drive doesn't cut it, and restore will take multiple days. Use a good SDD.

- your database TRIGGERS all have BEGIN/END statements (even though you can create them without and even thought the bug was supposed to be fixed,  it fails on restore, with all versions of MySQL 5.7/5.6 i tried

- you start with a really empty database in your datadir - DB I worked with had inconsistent data types on a foreign key, when the dependent table with an inconsistent key already exists MySQL will report a foreign key error (MariaDB will be more informative), but if it doesn't it will happily restore the database

- your max_allowed_packet conf value is big enough, or you'll get a MySQL server has gone away message from your client while restoring.

- your innodb_log_file_size is big enough ( - if you have large BLOB values in your DB, restore will fail if the value is lower than 10% of your blob field. This setting is important for quick restore too

- you have log-bin turned off in order to minimize your chance to run out of drive space and save IO (log-bin=Off doesn't mean that it's disabled just that the log bin files start with Off, the documentation can be confusing here :)  What worked for me is having all log-bin lines in the mysqld config section commented out

Finally, if you want it to finish quickly, use the fastest SSD you have available, and consider tuning MySQL configuration a bit. I'm also considering using a ramdisk, because it would help both with restore speed and when you need to do some DB transformations. MySQL defaults are not reasonable, especially for innodb_log_file_size, max_allowed_packet.

I used excellent pv for figuring out if the restore process will finish in reasonable time

pv db_dump.gz |gunzip -c |mysql -uroot database_name

Here's a full list of my MySQLd configuration variables that worked for me on my dev laptop

#my dev laptop is low on memory, for prod server you would use a lot more

#for saving disk IO, dont use on prod
innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit = 2

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