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Move MySQL back in time, decontaminate or un-split brain a MySQL server, restore it into replication chain.


Rewinding MySQL is a way to move MySQL back in time, so as to de-apply bad transactions, and set the server as a valid replica to some other server.

There are two use cases:

  • A replica accidentally contaminated by DML, e.g. some DELETE was executed directly on replica.
  • A split brain master: a scenario where a failover process demoted master A and promoted master B, even as demoted master A continued to receive some traffic. gh-mysql-rewind can un-split brain on server A and restore it as a healthy replica under B or any of its healthy replicas.

MySQL requirements

  • MySQL GTID replication (gtid_mode=ON)
  • binlog_format=ROW
  • binlog_row_image=FULL
  • Binary logs enabled
  • log_slave_updates enabled
  • Tested on MySQL 5.7, should work with 5.6, 8.0

Public use / requirements

gh-mysql-rewind is developed internally at GitHub and released to the public under the MIT license, and in slightly modified form (removing GitHub-specific code).

As an internal tool, it uses some of our existing infrastructure. Users of this tool should take a few steps before executing on their environments:

  • Install orchestrator, or alternatively replace all orchestrator-client commands with their own implementation.
  • Place the MariaDB mysqlbinlog binary, version 10.3.10 or above, on the server to be rewinded
  • Setup MySQL credentials for the tool to use
  • All required and suggested changes are indicated in the code. Look for IMPLEMENTATION.

General overview

gh-mysql-rewind is an implementation that utilizes two technologies:

  • Oracle/MySQL GTID
  • MariaDB's mysqlbinlog --flashback

With GTID, we are able to know what went wrong on a server by observing the errant transactions: GTID entries applied on a server but not on its master or would-be master. That is the general detection mechanism.

With mysqlbinlog --flashback we are able to generate the anti-chain-of-events in a binary log. Applying that onto a server effectively rewinds it back in time. Mostly.

The problem is that MariaDB is agnostic of MySQL-GTID. mysqlbinlog --flashback ignores any GTID info and generates no GTID info.

gh-mysql-rewind bridges the two technologies. It uses GTID to detect which binary logs contain the offending transactions, then uses flashback to de-apply those transactions, and finally does the math to fix executed_gtid_set, gtid_purged.


gh-mysql-rewind -m <[intermediate-]master-host> [-x] [-r]
  Rewind errant transactions on local server and rewire to replicate from master-host
  -m master-host, serves as GTID baseline
  -x execute (default is noop)
  -r auto-start replication upon rewiring
  • gh-mysql-rewind needs to run on the corrupted server.
  • Needs to be executed by a user with sudo privileges.
  • Needs orchestrator-client to be available.
  • master-host must be provided. This will be a "good" server in the same cluster as the corrupted server. Not necessarily a master. gh-mysql-rewind will use master-host to infer the errant transactions, and the operated box will end up replicating from master-host.
  • Sanity/protection checks:
    • Server must be read-only, to avoid running on an active master.
    • Must have no replicas (gh-mysql-rewind will issue a RESET MASTER).
    • Must not be actively replicating.
    • Must not use SQL_DELAY.
    • Must have some errant GTID

Deep dive

The tool needs to:

  • Identify which binary logs need to be reverted
  • Actually revert those binlogs
  • Keep accurate track of reverted GTID entries, reconfigure gtid_purged on server.

Flow breakdown:

  • Sanity checks.
  • Note down executed_gtid_set on server.
  • Note down executed_gtid_set on master.
  • Compute errant GTID on server.
  • Sanity check: there actually is errant GTID.
  • Identify which binary logs contain the errant GTID.
    • Will revert the last n (n >= 1) binary logs of the server. e.g. if binary logs are mysql-bin.001, mysql-bin.002, mysql-bin.003, mysql-bin.004, mysql-bin.005:
      • if mysql-bin.005 contains all errant transactions, then only mysql-bin.005 is reverted.
      • if mysql-bin.003 and mysql-bin.004 contain all errant transactions, then mysql-bin.005 is reverted, then mysql-bin.004, then mysql-bin.003.
    • Calculate the entire GTID set contained by those binary logs, by manually parsing the binary logs
  • Generate flashback for the relevant binary logs.
    • Inject dummy GTID statements into flashback output (which is originally ignorant of GTID)
  • Apply flashback onto MySQL
  • set global gtid_purged=?, by subtracting: original executed_gtid_set - reverted GTID set.
  • Clearing relay logs (existing relay logs are inconsistent with the position the server needs to replicate from).
  • Reconfigure replication.
  • Potentially resume replication (if -r is provided).


  • DDL DANGER: gh-mysql-rewind cannot undo DDLs. If a ALTER TABLE takes place, gh-mysql-rewind will rewind MySQL back to the past across said DDL, but will not actually de-apply the DDL. As result, once the server resumes replication it is likely to break on the DDL (e.g. it won't be able to drop an index because the index is already dropped). Some DDLs will possibly just NotWork™. Like a DROP COLUMN or ADD COLUMN closely coupled with operations on the table. There would be a mismatch in the number of columns when reverting events.

  • Does not support JSON, POINT data types and will break when trying to flashback a statement which includes tables with such columns.

  • gh-mysql-rewind operates on entire binlog files. This can be improved upon, but it simplifies the process. A complete binary log is the smallest amount of rewind. This means we probably rewind more than strictly necessary. The downside is that we spend time reverting events we don't need to revert, and then spend time reapplying those events.

  • The operated server must have no replicas: the operation ends up with a RESET MASTER. If multiple servers need to be rewinded, begin with leaf nodes and work your way up, one by one. Alternatively, rearrange the topology such that your operated server has no replicas (e.g. use .orc relocate-replicas <operated-server> below <some-other-server>)

Visual walkthrough

Let's assume the worst scenario, a split brain. Before trouble began, the topology looked like this:

+ r1
+ r2
  + r3
+ m-new
  + r4
    + r5
  + r6

A network partition caused a failover and a splitting of the topology into:

+ r1
+ r2
  + r3

+ r4
  + r5
+ r6

Production traffic has been directed to m-new, the newly promoted master, and to r4, r5, r6, its replicas.

Unfortunately m-old was receiving writes from local apps even after the failover. This leaves m-old, r1, r2, r3 in a split brain state.

  • We want to run gh-mysql-rewind on all four boxes.
  • We cannot immediately start with m-old nor with r2 because they have replicas. If we moved away their replicas then we'd be able to operate on them.
  • We can start with r1 and r3.
  • We can point them to any of m-new, r4, r5, r6 assuming, of course, there's log-bin=1 and log-slave-updates on those servers.
  • For example, we'd login to r3 and run: gh-mysql-rewind -m r5 -x -r. If all goes well, this will lead to:
+ r1
+ r2

+ r4
  + r5
    + r3
+ r6
  • For example, we can then login to r2 (which now does not have replicas) and run: gh-mysql-rewind -m m-new -x -r. If all goes well, this will lead to:
+ r1

+ r2
+ r4
  + r5
    + r3
+ r6
  • And so forth until we've rewinded all corrupted servers.

Rewinding concurrently

Back to the split brain state in the above:

+ r1
+ r2
  + r3
  • It's OK to rewind r1 and r3 concurrently. It's OK to point both to same master-host and it's OK to point them to different master hosts.
  • r2 cannot be rewinded as long as r3 is replicating from it.
  • You may .orc relocate r3 below m-old, to get:
    + r1
    + r2
    + r3
    and then it's OK to rewind all three r1, r2, r3 concurrently.


gh-mysql-rewind is tested internally at GitHub.

External links

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