Feature preview: Compact backups in Percona XtraBackup

Percona XtraBackupWe continue to improve Percona XtraBackup, and today I would like to give a preview for one feature which comes in next Percona XtraBackup 2.1 release.

This feature is “Compact backups”, and let me explain what it does.
As you may know InnoDB PK (Primary Key) contains all data, and all secondary indexes are only subset of columns of Primary Key. So in theory we can store only PK, and re-build secondary indexes as we need. Well, now it is possible not only in theory.

To create a compact backup you should use
innobackupex --compact
and it will create a backup where all InnoDB tables contain only Primary Keys and not secondary.
It allows to safe some space on a backup storage. How much? Well, it depends on how many indexes you have.
For example for table order_line from tpcc benchmark, 100W.
Original size: 3140M,
Size in compact backup: 2228M.

You may suspect that there is a catch somewhere, and yes, there is.
To recovery a usable database, we need to rebuild indexes, and it is done on prepare stage,
and it takes time.
The command to prepare is:

innobackupex --apply-log --rebuild-indexes /data/backup

As a bonus, secondary indexes are created by sorting, that in general gives much less fragmented indexes, so it may result in an additional space saving.

In fact this --rebuild-indexes can be used on a full backup, and it will result in rebuilt de-fragmented indexes.

I encourage you to try this feature and report your experience.
Right now it is available only in source code from https://code.launchpad.net/~percona-core/percona-xtrabackup/2.1,
but preview binaries should be available soon.

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Comments (11)

  • marc castrovinci

    I’m not sure if this is the forum for this question, but what do you suspect is the max size for a database when XtraBackup becomes an unusable option?

    We have a server that is 150GB and XtraBackup is now taking up to 40 minutes for an incremental ( which we do hourly ). So out of an hour, the slave server gets 20 minutes rest. I’m in the process of changing the backup scheme to use ec2-consistent-snapshot.

    I havent tried the newer XtraDB which utilizes changed page mapping, but even that will only delay the inevitable of taking a full hour and running into the next incremental.

    January 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm
  • Vadim Tkachenko


    the max size for a database is defined by your workload and your storage, and also how long backup procedure
    you want to tolerate.

    I.e. for light read-only workload on SSD storage even huge databases may be backup fast.

    As for incremental backups – we have another feature coming, “Bitmap-based backup”, which should
    make incremental backups much faster, stay tuned.

    January 29, 2013 at 4:50 pm
  • Frederic Descamps

    Hi Vadim,

    Does it mean that taking a backup will become slower as the table space is not “copied” directly from the file system ?

    January 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm
  • Vadim Tkachenko


    Not necessary. We still copy from the file system, but we skip pages used by secondary keys…

    January 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm
  • marc castrovinci


    Thanks for the info. Looking forward to the updates. As a DBA, I still prefer to have atleast a few backups that I can manage and move around unlike an EC2 snapshot which DevOps owns.

    January 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm
  • Peter Zaitsev


    Nice. I assume this feature works with compression too right ? Did we do any measurements about it ? I guess data and indexes would normally compress at different size.

    Also regarding rebuilding indexes is it done sequentially or is there some level of parallel index build (for same or different table) ?

    January 30, 2013 at 10:39 am
  • Vadim Tkachenko


    This works with compression, but I do not have numbers.

    Right now indexes are rebuilt sequentially, but to make it in parallel should be next improvement.

    January 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm
  • Mark Callaghan

    Nice feature. Thanks for advancing the state of the art.

    February 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm
  • Franck

    @ Marc castrovinci
    40 min for 150GB, it seems to me you’re doing a full backup.
    I thought incremental backup would be backing up the binary logs?

    February 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm
  • shawn

    i used this new feature ,but i found a question , if i dont use –rebuild-index option, as i think, it only apply data to datafile , the space of secondary index won’t be allocted, so the dadafile files could be used . Actually, when i dont use rebulid option, Xbackup also add some vacnt pages to the exist space file , this monment ,the space file was useless。

    should it be as i think, if dont use index rebuild, the space only contain primary key could be used correctly?

    March 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm
  • Alexey Kopytov

    @shawn As answered elsewhere, no, it is impossible to use datafiles without rebuilding indexes.

    March 8, 2013 at 1:18 am

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