Database dumps are handy when you want to create backups or restore an old database state in case something went wrong in your application. With the following commands, it should be easy.

Create dump

The syntax for creating a dump into a SQL file named dump.sql is following:

mysqldump -u [user] -p [dbname] > dump.sql

After you´ve entered your correct database password, you´ll get the dump. You can also set the password directly as an argument like this:

mysqldump -u [user] -p[password] [dbname] > dump.sql

Note, that there is no whitespace before the password!

However, it´s not recommended to pass the password directly with the command, because then it would be visible in the bash history or in ps aux.

Dynamic filename

To create a file with current date and time, you can execute this command:

mysqldump -u [user] -h [host] -p [dbname] > $(date +%Y-%m-%d-%H.%M).sql

Within cronjobs, you need to escape the % characters: $(date +\%Y-\%m-\%d-\%H.\%M).sql

Notes for cronjobs

If you want to create dumps periodically with a cronjob, it´s recommended to store the mysql credentials within a MySQL Option File. Usually this file is located at ~/.my.cnf. You can store your default username and password there without the need, to re-type it for every dump:

  1. Create / edit config:

    vi ~/.my.cnf
  2. Put default options for mysqldump into the file and save

    user = your_username
    password = your_password
  3. Change permissions for the config

    chmod 600 ~/.my.cnf

After you have done these steps, you don´t have to provide username and password all the time:

mysqldump your_db > dump.sql


To save some disk space, you can zip the dump before i´ts saved:

mysqldump your_db --lock-tables=false | gzip -9 > ~/backups/$(date +%Y-%m-%d-%H.%M).dump.sql.gz

Apply dump

To apply an existing dump, the syntax is nearly the same as for mysqldump, but this time the mysql command is required:

mysql -u [user] -p [dbname] < dump.sql

Sometimes you need a plain new database with no tables in it before you can apply the dump. To get that, simply drop and recreate the database:

mysql -u [user] -p -e 'drop database `dbname`;'
mysql -u [user] -p -e 'create database `dbname`;'

Encoding Problems?

If you experience encoding problems while importing / exporting dumps (and I´ sure at some point you will), maybe this tips might help:

Tip 1: Instead of mysqldump -u [user] -p [dbname] > dump.sql use the -r option:

mysqldump -u [user] -p [dbname] -r dump.sql

Tip 2: While importing, set the encoding flag:

mysql -u root -p [dbname] --default-character-set=utf8 < dump.sql

Good luck guys!

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Tom Raithel


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