Question on having a MySQL 5.1 replicate from a MySQL 5.6 DB

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Question :

I have a question in regards of what potential issues that might happen with a MySQL 5.1 DB that replicates from a MySQL 5.6 DB.

I know the risks involved based on resources such as and also

However, this is a very special case because I am trying to replace the MySQL 5.1 DB with a 5.6 version, and the only way to have minimum downtime is to have a 5.6 DB set up first and then let it replicate from the 5.1 DB, which will in turn also replicate from the 5.6 DB to form a cyclic replication. The purpose of this is to ensure that during the switchover (when the 5.6 DB will be the active one receiving the live writes instead of the 5.1 ), no write data would be lost.

I was curious if anyone has ever had this kind of setup before with the 5.1 DB replicating from the 5.6 DB, and if there were any issues you encountered. I am not sure what SQL commands in the 5.6 DB could be problematic for the 5.1 DB during replication.

To be exact, the 5.6 version is 5.6.21 and the 5.1 version is 5.1.73


Answer :

Believe it or not, I once wrote a post about why you should not do that (How can I disable utf8mb4 entirely on MySQL 5.5?). However, in the spirit of my old post and the commentary in it from @ChristopherSchultz, I will go out on a limb and tell you how you can do it, then tell you why you should not.

I once wrote a post about the home position of any empty binary log:

Over the years in this forum, I learned from someone (I think it was either Aaron Brown or Morgan Tocker) that there is a universal position for all binary logs regardless of the MySQL Version: position 4.

I once put that in an answer (Mar 05, 2013 : MySQL Replication without stopping master). In Step 06 from my answer I wrote this:


I also used position 4 in these other posts

Rarely do I repeat this info in any other posts for a reason. Personally, I fear that binlog events might be represented differently from version to version in terms of the size (in bytes) of each event. Believe it or not, over the past two weeks I have been upgrading DB Servers from MySQL 5.5. to MySQL 5.6. Due to mixed mode binary logging, there have been rare events when replication breaks and you cannot reset it from binlog files and positions by standard replication techniques. I have had to hose binary logs on Master, copy data, and setup replication from scratch a few times (5 out 400 VMs, but it still happened 5 times). I am very sure that replicating from a new Master to an old Slave would cause many more problems along these lines.

Therefore, I can only say that you can do it theoretically and MySQL may not object, that is, until MySQL Replication encounters a binlog event that is in a format it does not recognize and cannot interpret.


UPDATE 2014-11-18 22:32 EST

Just for official reference, this example CHANGE MASTER TO command


appears in the MySQL 5.6 Documentation. It’s also in the MySQL 4.1 Documentation.

Thus, position 4 has always been known (I have only known a couple of years). Notwithstanding, I trust MySQL Replication from old Master to new Slave (but not on a permanent basis). I do not trust MySQL Replication from new Master to old Slave.

UPDATE 2014-11-19 17:47 EST

Please don’t go down the Circular Replication path as it just adds to the risk of lost binlog events due to different versions. You should always replicate one direction to a newer version. Then, just failover to the newer version.

I have successfully done 5.1 to 5.5 and 5.5 to 5.6 for short periods of time, as it looks like you plan to do. Could you do a stepped upgrade? That is, 5.1 to 5.5 to 5.6?

Some of the issues you could run into can be caused by things particular to your workload. I’ve used the pt-upgrade tool ( to run a batch of queries against an older version replicating to a newer version, for testing (on a separate pair of test servers with production-sized data).

The general rule is you do not replicate from a newer version into an older versions.

Replicating into a newer version is the exact upgrade path you should do. If you only have one slave then you would just promote that to master. You’ll want to be sure to retain the output of show master status before promotion so you can reconnect the old master as a slave.

If you have multiple slaves have only the new master replicating from the old master and then have the other slaves replicating from the to be new mater prior to promotion.

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