5.2.4. The Binary Log

The binary log contains “events” that describe database changes such as table creation operations or changes to table data. It also contains events for statements that potentially could have made changes (for example, a DELETE which matched no rows), unless row-based logging is used. The binary log also contains information about how long each statement took that updated data. The binary log has two important purposes:

  • For replication, the binary log is used on master replication servers as a record of the statements to be sent to slave servers. The master server sends the events contained in its binary log to its slaves, which execute those events to make the same data changes that were made on the master. See Section 17.2, “Replication Implementation”.

  • Certain data recovery operations require use of the binary log. After a backup has been restored, the events in the binary log that were recorded after the backup was made are re-executed. These events bring databases up to date from the point of the backup. See Section 6.5, “Point-in-Time (Incremental) Recovery Using the Binary Log”.

Running a server with binary logging enabled makes performance slightly slower. However, the benefits of the binary log in enabling you to set up replication and for restore operations generally outweigh this minor performance decrement.

For information about server options and variables affecting the operation of binary logging, see Section, “Binary Log Options and Variables”.

The binary log is not used for statements such as SELECT or SHOW that do not modify data. If you want to log all statements (for example, to identify a problem query), use the general query log. See Section 5.2.3, “The General Query Log”.

The binary log should be protected because logged statements might contain passwords. See Section, “Administrator Guidelines for Password Security”.

The format of the events recorded in the binary log is dependent on the binary logging format. Three format types are supported, row-based logging, statement-based logging and mixed-base logging. The binary logging format used depends on the MySQL version. For more information on logging formats, see Section, “Binary Logging Formats”.

For information about the format of the binary log itself, see http://forge.mysql.com/wiki/MySQL_Internals_Binary_Log.

To enable the binary log, start the server with the --log-bin[=base_name] option. If no base_name value is given, the default name is the value of the pid-file option (which by default is the name of host machine) followed by -bin. If the basename is given, the server writes the file in the data directory unless the basename is given with a leading absolute path name to specify a different directory. It is recommended that you specify a basename; see Section C.5.8, “Known Issues in MySQL”, for the reason.

If you supply an extension in the log name (for example, --log-bin=base_name.extension), the extension is silently removed and ignored.

mysqld appends a numeric extension to the binary log basename to generate binary log file names. The number increases each time the server creates a new log file, thus creating an ordered series of files. The server creates a new file in the series each time it starts or flushes the logs. The server also creates a new binary log file automatically after the current log's size reaches max_binlog_size. A binary log file may become larger than max_binlog_size if you are using large transactions because a transaction is written to the file in one piece, never split between files.

To keep track of which binary log files have been used, mysqld also creates a binary log index file that contains the names of all used binary log files. By default, this has the same basename as the binary log file, with the extension '.index'. You can change the name of the binary log index file with the --log-bin-index[=file_name] option. You should not manually edit this file while mysqld is running; doing so would confuse mysqld.

The term “binary log file” generally denotes an individual numbered file containing database events. The term “binary log” collectively denotes the set of numbered binary log files plus the index file.

The server evaluates the --binlog-do-db and --binlog-ignore-db options in the same way as it does the --replicate-do-db and --replicate-ignore-db options. For information about how this is done, see Section, “Evaluation of Database-Level Replication and Binary Logging Options”.

A replication slave server by default does not write to its own binary log any data modifications that are received from the replication master. To log these modifications, start the slave with the --log-slave-updates option in addition to the --log-bin option (see Section, “Replication Slave Options and Variables”). This is done when a slave is also to act as a master to other slaves in chained replication.

You can delete all binary log files with the RESET MASTER statement, or a subset of them with PURGE BINARY LOGS. See Section, “RESET Syntax”, and Section, “PURGE BINARY LOGS Syntax”.

If you are using replication, you should not delete old binary log files on the master until you are sure that no slave still needs to use them. For example, if your slaves never run more than three days behind, once a day you can execute mysqladmin flush-logs on the master and then remove any logs that are more than three days old. You can remove the files manually, but it is preferable to use PURGE BINARY LOGS, which also safely updates the binary log index file for you (and which can take a date argument). See Section, “PURGE BINARY LOGS Syntax”.

A client that has the SUPER privilege can disable binary logging of its own statements by using a SET sql_log_bin=0 statement. See Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

You can display the contents of binary log files with the mysqlbinlog utility. This can be useful when you want to reprocess statements in the log for a recovery operation. For example, you can update a MySQL server from the binary log as follows:

shell> mysqlbinlog log_file | mysql -h server_name

mysqlbinlog also can be used to display replication slave relay log file contents because they are written using the same format as binary log files. For more information on the mysqlbinlog utility and how to use it, see Section 4.6.7, “mysqlbinlog — Utility for Processing Binary Log Files”. For more information about the binary log and recovery operations, see Section 6.5, “Point-in-Time (Incremental) Recovery Using the Binary Log”.

Binary logging is done immediately after a statement completes but before any locks are released or any commit is done. This ensures that the log is logged in execution order.

Updates to nontransactional tables are stored in the binary log immediately after execution.

Within an uncommitted transaction, all updates (UPDATE, DELETE, or INSERT) that change transactional tables such as InnoDB tables are cached until a COMMIT statement is received by the server. At that point, mysqld writes the entire transaction to the binary log before the COMMIT is executed.

Modifications to nontransactional tables cannot be rolled back. If a transaction that is rolled back includes modifications to nontransactional tables, the entire transaction is logged with a ROLLBACK statement at the end to ensure that the modifications to those tables are replicated.

When a thread that handles the transaction starts, it allocates a buffer of binlog_cache_size to buffer statements. If a statement is bigger than this, the thread opens a temporary file to store the transaction. The temporary file is deleted when the thread ends.

The Binlog_cache_use status variable shows the number of transactions that used this buffer (and possibly a temporary file) for storing statements. The Binlog_cache_disk_use status variable shows how many of those transactions actually had to use a temporary file. These two variables can be used for tuning binlog_cache_size to a large enough value that avoids the use of temporary files.

The max_binlog_cache_size system variable (default 4GB, which is also the maximum) can be used to restrict the total size used to cache a multiple-statement transaction. If a transaction is larger than this many bytes, it fails and rolls back. The minimum value is 4096.

If you are using the binary log and row based logging, concurrent inserts are converted to normal inserts for CREATE ... SELECT or INSERT ... SELECT statement. This is done to ensure that you can re-create an exact copy of your tables by applying the log during a backup operation. If you are using statement-based logging, the original statement is written to the log.

The binary log format has some known limitations that can affect recovery from backups. See Section 17.4.1, “Replication Features and Issues”.

Binary logging for stored programs is done as described in Section 19.7, “Binary Logging of Stored Programs”.

Note that the binary log format differs in MySQL 5.5 from previous versions of MySQL, due to enhancements in replication. See Section 17.4.2, “Replication Compatibility Between MySQL Versions”.

Writes to the binary log file and binary log index file are handled in the same way as writes to MyISAM tables. See Section C.5.4.3, “How MySQL Handles a Full Disk”.

By default, the binary log is not synchronized to disk at each write. So if the operating system or machine (not only the MySQL server) crashes, there is a chance that the last statements of the binary log are lost. To prevent this, you can make the binary log be synchronized to disk after every N writes to the binary log, with the sync_binlog system variable. See Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”. 1 is the safest value for sync_binlog, but also the slowest. Even with sync_binlog set to 1, there is still the chance of an inconsistency between the table content and binary log content in case of a crash. For example, if you are using InnoDB tables and the MySQL server processes a COMMIT statement, it writes the whole transaction to the binary log and then commits this transaction into InnoDB. If the server crashes between those two operations, the transaction is rolled back by InnoDB at restart but still exists in the binary log. To resolve this, you should set --innodb_support_xa to 1. Although this option is related to the support of XA transactions in InnoDB, it also ensures that the binary log and InnoDB data files are synchronized.

For this option to provide a greater degree of safety, the MySQL server should also be configured to synchronize the binary log and the InnoDB logs to disk at every transaction. The InnoDB logs are synchronized by default, and sync_binlog=1 can be used to synchronize the binary log. The effect of this option is that at restart after a crash, after doing a rollback of transactions, the MySQL server cuts rolled back InnoDB transactions from the binary log. This ensures that the binary log reflects the exact data of InnoDB tables, and so, that the slave remains in synchrony with the master (not receiving a statement which has been rolled back).

If the MySQL server discovers at crash recovery that the binary log is shorter than it should have been, it lacks at least one successfully committed InnoDB transaction. This should not happen if sync_binlog=1 and the disk/file system do an actual sync when they are requested to (some do not), so the server prints an error message The binary log file_name is shorter than its expected size. In this case, this binary log is not correct and replication should be restarted from a fresh snapshot of the master's data.

For MySQL 5.1.20 and later (and MySQL 5.0.46 and later for backward compatibility), the session values of the following system variables are written to the binary log and honored by the replication slave when parsing the binary log:

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