Automatic MySQL Backups

4 May 2012 • 1 minute read

It’s really easy to set up automatic MySQL backups using mysqldump. First, you need to set up a user with SELECT and LOCK TABLES privileges. In this example the user doesn’t have a password.

CREATE USER 'autobackup'@'localhost';
GRANT SELECT, LOCK TABLES ON *.* TO 'autobackup'@'localhost';

Next create the cron job with crontab -e. This job is set to run every day at 5:20am.

20 5 * * * mysqldump --user=autobackup dbname | gzip -c > /var/backups/dbname-$(date +\%Y\%m\%d).sql.gz

Don’t forget to change dbname to the name of the database that you want to backup. And that’s it - you’re done! This cron job will create a backup of your database and save it to /var/backups with a filename based on the current date, e.g. /var/backups/dbname-20120503.sql.gz

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MySQL: Specified key was too long; max key length is 767 bytes

1 Apr 2012 • 1 minute read

MySQL has a prefix limitation of 767 bytes in InnoDB, and 1000 bytes in MYISAM. This has never been a problem for me, until I started using UTF-16 as the character set for one of my databases. UTF-16 can use up to 4 bytes per character which means that in an InnoDB table, you can’t have any keys longer than 191 characters. Take this CREATE statement for example:

  `username` varchar(32) NOT NULL,
  `password` varchar(64) NOT NULL,
  `email` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  UNIQUE KEY `UNIQ_8D93D649F85E0677` (`username`),
  UNIQUE KEY `UNIQ_8D93D649E7927C74` (`email`)

This will fail with an error like Specified key was too long; max key length is 767 bytes, because the UNIQUE INDEX on the email field requires at least 1020 bytes (255 * 4).

Unfortunately there is no real solution to this. Your only options are to either reduce the size of the column, use a different character set (like UTF-8), or use a different engine (like MYISAM). In this case I switched the character set to UTF-8 which raised the maximum key length to 255 characters.

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