Setting up MySQL replication without the downtime

I clearly don’t need to expound on the benefits of master-slave replication for your MySQL database. It’s simply a good idea; one nicety I looked forward to was the ability to run backups from the slave without impacting the performance of our production database. But the benefits abound.

Most tutorials on master-slave replication use a read lock to accomplish a consistent copy during initial setup. Barbaric! With our users sending thousands of cards and gifts at all hours of the night, I wanted to find a way to accomplish the migration without any downtime.

@pQd via ServerFault suggests enabling bin-logging and taking a non-locking dump with the binlog position included. In effect, you’re creating a copy of the db marked with a timestamp, which allows the slave to catch up once you’ve migrated the data over. This seems like the best way to set up a MySQL slave with no downtime, so I figured I’d document the step-by-step here, in case it proves helpful for others.

First, you’ll need to configure the master’s /etc/mysql/my.cnf by adding these lines in the [mysqld] section:

binlog-format   = mixed

Restart the master mysql server and create a replication user that your slave server will use to connect to the master:

CREATE USER replicant@<<slave-server-ip>>;
GRANT REPLICATION SLAVE ON *.* TO replicant@<<slave-server-ip>> IDENTIFIED BY '<<choose-a-good-password>>';

Note: Mysql allows for passwords up to 32 characters for replication users.

Next, create the backup file with the binlog position. It will affect the performance of your database server, but won’t lock your tables:

mysqldump --skip-lock-tables --single-transaction --flush-logs --hex-blob --master-data=2 -A  > ~/dump.sql

Now, examine the head of the file and jot down the values for MASTER_LOG_FILE and MASTER_LOG_POS. You will need them later:

head dump.sql -n80 | grep "MASTER_LOG_POS"

Because this file for me was huge, I gzip'ed it before transferring it to the slave, but that’s optional:

gzip ~/dump.sql

Now we need to transfer the dump file to our slave server (if you didn’t gzip first, remove the .gz bit):

scp ~/dump.sql.gz mysql-user@<<slave-server-ip>>:~/

While that’s running, you should log into your slave server, and edit your /etc/mysql/my.cnf file to add the following lines:

server-id               = 101
binlog-format       = mixed
log_bin                 = mysql-bin
relay-log               = mysql-relay-bin
log-slave-updates = 1
read-only               = 1

Restart the mysql slave, and then import your dump file:

gunzip ~/dump.sql.gz
mysql -u root -p < ~/dump.sql

Log into your mysql console on your slave server and run the following commands to set up and start replication:

CHANGE MASTER TO MASTER_HOST='<<master-server-ip>>',MASTER_USER='replicant',MASTER_PASSWORD='<<slave-server-password>>', MASTER_LOG_FILE='<<value from above>>', MASTER_LOG_POS=<<value from above>>;

To check the progress of your slave:


If all is well, Last_Error will be blank, and Slave_IO_State will report “Waiting for master to send event”. Look for Seconds_Behind_Master which indicates how far behind it is. It took me a few hours to accomplish all of the above, but the slave caught up in a matter of minutes. YMMV.

And now you have a newly minted mysql slave server without experiencing any downtime!

A parting tip: Sometimes errors occur in replication. For example, if you accidentally change a row of data on your slave. If this happens, fix the data, then run:


Update: In following my own post when setting up another slave, I ran into an issue with authentication. The slave status showed an error of 1045 (credential error) even though I was able to directly connect using the replicant credentials. It turns out that MySQL allows passwords up to 32 characters in length for master-slave replication.


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