MySQL 8.0: Persisted Variables

MySQL 8.0 introduced a new feature that allows you to persist configuration changes from inside MySQL. Previously you could execute SET GLOBAL to change the configuration at runtime, but you needed to update your MySQL configuration file in order to persist the change. In MySQL 8.0 you can skip the second step. This blog discuss how this works and how to backup and restore the configuration.

Using SET PERSIST to set a variable and the persisted_variables table in the Performance Schema to get a list of persisted variables.
Using SET PERSIST to set a variable and the persisted_variables table in the Performance Schema to get a list of persisted variables.

Persisting Variables

You persist changes with either the SET PERSIST or SET PERSIST_ONLY statement. The different is that SET PERSIST_ONLY only updates the configuration whereas SET PERSIST essentially combines SET GLOBAL and SET PERSIST_ONLY.

Note: Some variables such as innodb_buffer_pool_instances can only use PERSIST_ONLY, i.e. it requires a restart to make the changes take effect. Still others, such as datadir can currently not be persisted.

mysqld-auto.cnf and variables_info

The persisted variables are stored in the file mysqld-auto.cnf located in the data directory using the JSON format. It includes more information than just the persisted value. It also includes information such as who made the change and when. An example file is:

Since it is JSON, it is easy to reformat to make easier to read, for example:

This information is also available from the performance_schema.variables_info table:

Notice that the source for join_buffer_size is DYNAMIC whereas the two other variables have the source set to PERSISTED. Why? After all they all three existed in the mysqld-auto.cnf file. DYNAMIC means that the variable was changes since the last restart either using SET GLOBAL or SET PERSIST. Another thing to be aware of is that variables changed with SET PERSIST_ONLY will not show up in variables_info until after the next restart. I will soon get back to show a way to get the variables that have been persisted in one way or another.

Backup and Restore

As a simple way to back up the configuration is simply copy the mysqld-auto.cnf file to a safe location. Similarly, you can restore the configuration by copying it back.

However, what if you want most of the configuration but not everything or you want to edit some of the values? In that case you need another way of exporting the configuration as you should not manually edit mysqld-auto.cnf.

Warning: Do not edit the mysqld-auto.cnf file manually. It should only be changed with SET PERSIST and SET PERSIST_ONLY. If there are any errors in the file, MySQL will refuse to start.

Fortunately as it turns out, it is easy to export all persisted variables. The table performance_schema.persisted_variables includes all variables that has either been read from mysqld-auto.cnf or has been changed with SET PERSIST or SET PERSIST_ONLY since the last restart. The table include the persisted values. For example:

This can be used to create SET statements that can be used to recreate the configuration on another instance. For example:

Using the mysql command-line client, you can avoid the column names and table format by using the --skip-column-names and --batch options:

Note: On Microsoft Windows ensure everything is on one line and the backslashes are removed.

Now the file config.sql contains an export of the persisted variables:

This example creates SET PERSIST_ONLY statement as those will work with all persistable variables. When you replay the SET statements, it will require a restart of MySQL for the changes to take effect. If you want to use SET PERSIST where possible, then you need to take into consideration whether the variable support SET PERSIST.  A list of variables that require SET PERSIST_ONLY are included at the end.

The configuration can now be restored as:


As promised, I will conclude with a list of persistable variables that only supports SET PERSIST_ONLY. As of MySQL 8.0.12 without any plugins installed, the variables are:


Changes to Options and Variables in MySQL 5.6

With MySQL 5.6 just gone GA, I thought it would be good to take a look at the changes in options and variables that comes with the new release.

First of all, several of the existing options have get new default values. As James Day already have written a good post about that in his blog, I will refer to that instead of going through the changes. For a general overview of the new features and improvements, the recent blogs by Rob Young and Peter Saitsev are good starting points together with the What is New in MySQL 5.6 page in the Reference Manual are good places to start.

Instead I will focus a little on the new options that has been introduced. The first thing to note is that a in the current 5.5. release (5.5.30) there are 323 variables whereas 5.6 GA (5.6.10) returns 440 rows.

Note: this post is written using the Enterprise versions with the semi-synchronous replication plugins enabled in both versions plus the memcached and password validation plugins in 5.6.

Actually the number of new variables is not 117 but 129 as 12 variables have been removed in 5.6.

So what are all of these 129 new variables good for? Actually there is a good chance that you will never need to touch many of them as the default value is good enough, they simply have been added to provide the value of options already present in 5.5 but not exposed through SHOW GLOBAL VARIABLES, or that they are for features you are not using. If we try to group the new variables the distribution comes out as:

FeatureNew Variables
Global Transaction IDs5
Other Replication19
Memcached Plugin6
Validate Password Plugin6
Other Security Related5
Optimizer Traces5
Performance Schema15
Exposing Previously Existing Variables2

New Variables in MySQL 5.6

The 54 new InnoDB variables span a number of different changes and additions such as:

  • New adaptive flushing algorithm
  • Buffer Pool dumps to disk and restore
  • Support for additional checksum algorithms
  • Improvements for compression
  • Full text indexes
  • New monitoring options (the information_schema.metrics table)
  • Configurable page size
  • Persistent statistics
  • Undo logs improvements
  • And more …

For reference I have added a list of the new variables with the release they were introduced and the default value (additionally innodb_print_all_deadlocks is also new, but that was also added to 5.5.30):

Note that while the default values are for an installation on Linux, most will also apply to other platforms. See also the Reference Manual.

For good measure here is a list of the variables that have been removed in 5.6:

  • engine_condition_pushdown – deprecated in 5.5.3, use optimizer_switch instead.
  • have_csv – use SHOW ENGINES or information_schema.ENGINES instead.
  • have_innodb – use SHOW ENGINES or information_schema.ENGINES instead.
  • have_ndbcluster – use SHOW ENGINES or information_schema.ENGINES instead.
  • have_partitioning – use SHOW ENGINES or information_schema.ENGINES instead.
  • log – deprecated in 5.1.29, use general_log instead.
  • log_slow_queries – deprecated in 5.1.29, use slow_query_log instead.
  • max_long_data_size – deprecated in 5.5.11, is now automatically controlled by max_allowed_packet.
  • rpl_recovery_rank – previously unused.
  • sql_big_tables – hasn’t really been needed since 3.23.2.
  • sql_low_priority_updates – Use low_priority_updates instead.
  • sql_max_join_size