Morpheus Lessons: Best Practices for Upgrading MySQL

By: Morpheus Data

TL;DR: Thinking about upgrading your MySQL database? When performing an upgrade, there are some factors you need to consider and some best practices that can be followed to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. You will need to consider if an upgrade is necessary, whether it is a minor or major upgrade, and changes to query syntax, results, and performance.

Do You Need to Upgrade?

The need to upgrade is based on the risk versus the reward. Any upgrade carries with it the risk of losing functionality (breaks something) or data (catastrophic loss). With that in mind, you may be running into bugs that are resolved in a later release, performance problems, or growing concerns about the security of the database as the current version continues to age. Any of these factors could cause an upgrade to be necessary, so you will need to follow some best practices to help mitigate as much risk as possible.

An example MySQL setup. Source: Programming Notes

Will the Upgrade be Minor or Major?

A minor upgrade is typically one where there is a small change in the third release number. For example, upgrading version 5.1.22 to 5.1.25 would be considered a minor upgrade. As long as the difference is relatively small, the risk to upgrade will be relatively low.

A major upgrade, on the other hand, involves a change in the second or the first number. For example, upgrading version 5.1.22 to 5.3.1 or 4.1.3 to 5.1.0 would usually be considered a major upgrade. In such cases, the risk becomes higher because more changes to the system have been implemented.

Consider the Changes

Before upgrading, it is best to examine the changes that have been made between the two versions. Changes to query syntax or the results of queries can cause your application to have erroneous data, errors, or even stop working. It is important to know what changes will need to be made in your queries to ensure that your system continues to function after the upgrade takes place.

Also, an upgrade could either cause increased or decreased performance, depending on what has changed and the system on which MySQL is running. If the upgrade could cause a decrease in performance, you will certainly want to consider if this is the right time to update.

Performance on a single thread comparison. Source: PERCONA

Performing the Upgrade

Typically, the best practice when upgrading is to follow this procedure:

  • Dump your user grant data
  • Dump your regular data
  • Restore your regular data in the new version
  • Restore your user grant data in the new version

Doing this, you significantly reduce your risk of losing data, since you will have backup dump files. In addition, since you are using the MySQL dump and restore, the restore process will use the format of the new MySQL version, which helps mitigate compatibility issues.

Easy Upgrades

If you want to upgrade even more easily, consider using a database as a service in the cloud. Such services make it easy to provision, replicate and archive your database, and make upgrading easier via the use of available tools.

One such service is Morpheus, which offers not only MySQL, but also lets you use MongoDB, ElasticSearch, or Redis. In addition, all databases are deployed on a high performance infrastructure with Solid State Drives and are automatically backed up, replicated, and archived. So, take a look at pricing information or open a free account today to begin taking advantage of this service!