Recovery deleted ibdata1

Recently I had a case when a customer deleted the InnoDB main table space – ibdata1 – and redo logs – ib_logfile*.

MySQL keeps InnoDB files open all the time. The following recovery technique is based on this fact and it allowed to salvage the database.

Actually, the files were deleted long time ago – 6 months or so. As long as file is open physically it still exits in the file system and reachable to processes which have opened it.

Thus, from user perspective nothing has changed after the deletion. By the way, this is a good reason to monitor existence of these files!
But after the restart InnoDB will detect that there is neither system table space nor log files, so it will create empty ones. The InnoDB dictionary will be empty and InnoDB won’t be able to use a bunch of existing ibd files. This situation will be a job for ibdconnect, but as long as MySQL isn’t restarted it is possible to recover database fast. Let me illustrate how.

Let’s simulate the accident. For that I will delete /var/lib/mysql/ib* files, while sysbench generates read/write activity:



Now the files have gone, but MySQL is still running. They don’t exist in /var/lib/mysql, but can be reachable in /proc file system:

where 14101 is the PID of mysqld process.

However, we can’t copy them back because at any given point of time, there are modified pages in the buffer pool. Those pages are not written on disk and will be lost if the changes are not permanently written. This can lead to corruption and data loss.

For the same reason we can’t make MySQL backup by just copying the files.

So, we have to make sure all modifications are written to the disk.

For that we have to stop any further writes and wait until InnoDB flushes all pages.

To stop write activity we can either stop application or lock tables:

Now let’s wait until all dirty pages are flushed on disk. For that we will monitor checkpoint age. The checkpoint age is a difference between current log sequence number and last checkpoint in “SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS” output. If checkpoint age is zero, all pages are flushed:

To speed up flushing we can set dirty pages percentage to zero:

It is also important to ensure all other background processes have finished their work.
One of them is the insert buffer thread. Its size should be not more than 1(it’s never less than 1):

Another thread writing in background is the purge thread.
It should purge all transactions up to very last

But if the last transaction wasn’t something that requires a purge operation (SELECT for example) Trx id counter will be bigger.
In that case at least ensure InnoDB isn’t doing any writes:

When all modified pages are flushed it is safe now to copy InnoDB files back:

Let’s fix the owner:

And restart MySQL:

After the restart all InnoDB tables are reachable:


  • Add to your monitoring system checks that InnoDB files ibdata and ib_logfil