Creating a read-only backup user for mysqldump

How to create a read-only user that can be used for MySQL backups with mysqldump

Written by Benjamin Cane on 2011-12-12 | 1 min read

Mysqldump is a great utility for backing up or exporting a database to a flat file. This flat file can then be used to import the database or databases into another mysql database or even another database server like postgre depending on the options you use.

To perform a very simple backup of the mysql database you can simply just setup a cronjob that runs mysqldump at whatever interval you want.

Example: Backup all databases

 # /usr/bin/mysqldump -uBACKUPUSER -pPASSWORD --all-databases > /path/to/flatfile.sql

The above example backs up all of the databases on the system (even the mysql internal database); if you have a specific database you want to backup you can simply specify it on the command line.

Example: Backup a specific database

 # /usr/bin/mysqldump -uBACKUPUSER -pPASSWORD DATABASE > /path/to/flatfile.sql

In regards to the user that you are using to backup the database you have two options. You can use a user that has read/write privileges on all of the databases (Less Secure) or setup a new user with read only access on all of the databases (More Secure).

Example: Creating a read only mysql user

 # /usr/bin/mysql -uroot -p
 Enter password:
 Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or g.
 Your MySQL connection id is 253404
 Server version: 5.1.54-1ubuntu4 (Ubuntu)

 Copyright (c) 2000, 2010, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
 This software comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. This is free software,
 and you are welcome to modify and redistribute it under the GPL v2 license

 Type 'help;' or 'h' for help. Type 'c' to clear the current input statement.

 Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

 mysql> flush privileges;
 Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

 mysql> Bye

If you only want the user to have permissions on a specific database you can just modify the command above to match the following.


Picture of Benjamin Cane

Benjamin's specialty is keeping the lights on for mission critical systems. He is currently building applications that enable high concurrency financial transactions.

Recently Benjamin published his first book; Red Hat Enterprise Linux Troubleshooting Guide. In addition to writing, he has several Open Source projects focused on making Ops easier. These projects include Automatron, a project enabling auto-healing infrastructure for the masses.


Identify, capture and resolve common issues faced by Red Hat Enterprise Linux administrators using best practices and advanced troubleshooting techniques

What people are saying:
Excellent, excellent resource for practical guidance on how to troubleshoot a wide variety of problems on Red Hat Linux. I particularly enjoyed how the author made sure to provide solid background and practical examples. I have a lot of experience on Red Hat but still came away with some great practical tools to add to my toolkit. - Amazon Review