How to export/backup a MySQL/MariaDB database with mysqldump

Updated July 17, 2020・2 minute read Post By bobbyiliev
How to export/backup a MySQL/MariaDB database with mysqldump


There are many ways and tools on how to export or backup your MySQL databases. In my opinion, mysqldump is a great tool to accomplish this task.

The mysqldump tool can be used to dump a database or a collection of databases for backup or transfer to another database server (not necessarily MariaDB or MySQL). The dump typically contains SQL statements to create the table, populate it, or both.

One of the main benefits of mysqldump is that it is available out of the box on almost all shared hosting servers. So if you are hosting your database on a cPanel server that you don't have root access to, you could still use it to export larger databases.

Exporting a Database

In order to export/backup a database, all you need to do is run the following command:

mysqldump -u your_username -p your_database_name > your_database_name-$(date +%F).sql

Note that you need to change the your_database_name with the actual name of your database and the your_username with your actual MySQL username.

Rundown of the arguments:

  • -u : needs to be followed by your MySQL username
  • - p : indicates that you would be prompted for your MySQL password
  • > : indicates that the output of the command should be stored in the .sql file that you specify after that sign

By running the above command, you would create an export of your database, which you could later use as a backup or even transfer it to another server.

Exporting all databases

If you have root access to the server, you could use the --all-databases flag in order to export all of the databases hosted on the particular MySQL server. The downside of this approach is that this would create one single .sql export which would contain all of the databases.

Let's say that you would like to export each database into a separate .sql file. You could do that with the following script:


# Get a list of all databases except the system databases that are not needed
DATABASES=$(echo "show databases;" | mysql | grep -Ev "(Database|information_schema|mysql|performance_schema)")

DATE=$(date +%d%m%Y)
TIME=$(date +%s)

# Create Backup Directory

if [ ! -d ${BACKUP_DIR} ]; then
  mkdir -p ${BACKUP_DIR} 

# Backup all databases

    mysqldump --single-transaction --skip-lock-tables $DB | gzip > ${BACKUP_DIR}/$DATE-$DB.sql.gz

The script would backup each database and would store the .sql dumps in the /home/your_user/backup folder. Make sure to adjust the path to your backup folder.

Automated backups

You can even set a cronjob to automate the backups above, that way you would have regular backups of your databases.

In order to do that you need to make sure that you have the following content in your .my.cnf file. The file should be stored at: 


You should make sure that it has secure permissions:

chmod 600 /home/your_user/.my.cnf

And you should add the following content:


Once you have your .my.cnf file configured, you set up a cronjob to trigger the mysqldump export of your database:

0 10,22 * * * /usr/bin/mysqldump -u your_username -p your_database_name > your_database_name-$(date +%F).sql

The above would run at 10AM and 10PM every day, so you will have 2 daily backups of your database.

You can even expand the logic and add a compression step so that the .sql dumps do not consume too much webspace.


The mysqldump is a great tool to easily and quickly backup your MySQL databases.

For more information, you could take a look at the official documentation here:

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