Faster MySQL dumps and loads with –tab and –use-threads

By default, mysqldump writes a series of sql DDL and inserts to standard out, that you can then pipe to another database server to recreate a given database.

The problem is that this is all serial, and if you’re having to do this task regularly (because you’re sharing databases between different development environments, for example), it’d be nice if this could be sped up, and it certainly can with the current 5.1.x versions of MySQL.

MySQL recently added two new features that help with this: mysqldump --tab=path and mysqlimport --use-threads=N.


Here’s how you’d dump multiple databases without –tab (assuming your ~/.my.cnf told mysqldump how to connect to your database server):

There are a bunch of caveats to using the --tab option:

  • The mysqldump command must be run on the database server, because mysqldump will invoke SELECT INTO OUTFILE on the server.
  • The FILE permission must be granted to the mysqldump user
  • The directory needs to be writeable by the mysqld euid
  • If you want to dump multiple databases, you’ll need to create a new directory per database so same-named tables won’t clobber eachother

In the interests of simplicity, I used globally-read-write permissions here. If untrusted users had access to these directories, these permissions would be unacceptable, of course.


Loading from a .sql.gz file is trivial — just pipe it to mysql and call it a day:

Loading from tab files is a bit more work. Note that this NUKES AND PAVES your database with the content of the dump–including the mysql users, their passwords, and their permissions! You’ll also want to play with –use-threads, depending on the number of processors your machine hardware has.

Posted in Technical HOWTOs
  • Florent THOMAS


    I would like to know if you change something on the server config for using “use-threads” option?
    On my VPS or localhost, I didn’t succeed in making it works. I still have only one thread whether I  run it via PHP or via CLI.

    Thanks for your answer

  • Christopher Causer

    I think there’s a mistake:

    mkdir -m 777 $dbshould probably be
      mkdir -m 777 /tmp/$dir/$db 

  • Christopher Causer

    Ugh, this is what you get when there’s no preview button. Well, you get what I mean.

  • Excellent post, thanks !

    Just a minor correction :

    mysqldump –tab=/tmp/$dir/$db –opt –single-transaction –quick /tmp/$dir/$db

    Should be :

    mysqldump –tab=/tmp/$dir/$db –opt –single-transaction –quick $db

    That’s it really.

    Thanks again !

  • Javier

    Yep! i think the same, write at the end of the line $db or -d $db, since you want to specify the database to dump, if not you will get an “Access denied” since the database doesnt exist.

  • mceachen

    Good catch. Fixed!

  • ostrokach

    cat abuse

  • ostrokach

    What does the --quick option do? Is it safe to use?