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Crash recovery

Unlike the standard MySQL replication, a PXC cluster acts like one logical entity, which controls the status and consistency of each node as well as the status of the whole cluster. This allows maintaining the data integrity more efficiently than with traditional asynchronous replication without losing safe writes on multiple nodes at the same time.

However, there are scenarios where the database service can stop with no node being able to serve requests.

Scenario 1: Node A is gracefully stopped

In a three node cluster (node A, Node B, node C), one node (node A, for example) is gracefully stopped: for the purpose of maintenance, configuration change, etc.

In this case, the other nodes receive a “good bye” message from the stopped node and the cluster size is reduced; some properties like quorum calculation or auto increment are automatically changed. As soon as node A is started again, it joins the cluster based on its wsrep_cluster_address variable in my.cnf.

If the writeset cache (gcache.size) on nodes B and/or C still has all the transactions executed while node A was down, joining is possible via IST. If IST is impossible due to missing transactions in donor’s gcache, the fallback decision is made by the donor and SST is started automatically.

Scenario 2: Two nodes are gracefully stopped

Similar to Scenario 1: Node A is gracefully stopped, the cluster size is reduced to 1 — even the single remaining node C forms the primary component and is able to serve client requests. To get the nodes back into the cluster, you just need to start them.

However, when a new node joins the cluster, node C will be switched to the “Donor/Desynced” state as it has to provide the state transfer at least to the first joining node. It is still possible to read/write to it during that process, but it may be much slower, which depends on how large amount of data should be sent during the state transfer. Also, some load balancers may consider the donor node as not operational and remove it from the pool. So, it is best to avoid the situation when only one node is up.

If you restart node A and then node B, you may want to make sure note B does not use node A as the state transfer donor: node A may not have all the needed writesets in its gcache. Specify node C node as the donor in your configuration file and start the mysql service:

$ systemctl start mysql

Scenario 3: All three nodes are gracefully stopped

The cluster is completely stopped and the problem is to initialize it again. It is important that a PXC node writes its last executed position to the grastate.dat file.

By comparing the seqno number in this file, you can see which is the most advanced node (most likely the last stopped). The cluster must be bootstrapped using this node, otherwise nodes that had a more advanced position will have to perform the full SST to join the cluster initialized from the less advanced one. As a result, some transactions will be lost). To bootstrap the first node, invoke the startup script like this:

$ systemctl start mysql@bootstrap.service


Even though you bootstrap from the most advanced node, the other nodes have a lower sequence number. They will still have to join via the full SST because the Galera Cache is not retained on restart.

For this reason, it is recommended to stop writes to the cluster before its full shutdown, so that all nodes can stop at the same position. See also pc.recovery.

Scenario 4: One node disappears from the cluster

This is the case when one node becomes unavailable due to power outage, hardware failure, kernel panic, mysqld crash, kill -9 on mysqld pid, etc.

Two remaining nodes notice the connection to node A is down and start trying to re-connect to it. After several timeouts, node A is removed from the cluster. The quorum is saved (2 out of 3 nodes are up), so no service disruption happens. After it is restarted, node A joins automatically (as described in Scenario 1: Node A is gracefully stopped).

Scenario 5: Two nodes disappear from the cluster

Two nodes are not available and the remaining node (node C) is not able to form the quorum alone. The cluster has to switch to a non-primary mode, where MySQL refuses to serve any SQL queries. In this state, the mysqld process on node C is still running and can be connected to but any statement related to data fails with an error

> SELECT * FROM test.sbtest1;
The error message
ERROR 1047 (08S01): WSREP has not yet prepared node for application use

Reads are possible until node C decides that it cannot access node A and node B. New writes are forbidden.

As soon as the other nodes become available, the cluster is formed again automatically. If node B and node C were just network-severed from node A, but they can still reach each other, they will keep functioning as they still form the quorum.

If node A and node B crashed, you need to enable the primary component on node C manually, before you can bring up node A and node B. The command to do this is:

> SET GLOBAL wsrep_provider_options='pc.bootstrap=true';

This approach only works if the other nodes are down before doing that! Otherwise, you end up with two clusters having different data.

Scenario 6: All nodes went down without a proper shutdown procedure

This scenario is possible in case of a datacenter power failure or when hitting a MySQL or Galera bug. Also, it may happen as a result of data consistency being compromised where the cluster detects that each node has different data. The grastate.dat file is not updated and does not contain a valid sequence number (seqno). It may look like this:

$ cat /var/lib/mysql/grastate.dat
# GALERA saved state
version: 2.1
uuid: 220dcdcb-1629-11e4-add3-aec059ad3734
seqno: -1
safe_to_bootstrap: 0

In this case, you cannot be sure that all nodes are consistent with each other. We cannot use safe_to_bootstrap variable to determine the node that has the last transaction committed as it is set to 0 for each node. An attempt to bootstrap from such a node will fail unless you start mysqld with the --wsrep-recover parameter:

$ mysqld --wsrep-recover

Search the output for the line that reports the recovered position after the node UUID (1122 in this case):

Expected output
... [Note] WSREP: Recovered position: 220dcdcb-1629-11e4-add3-aec059ad3734:1122

The node where the recovered position is marked by the greatest number is the best bootstrap candidate. In its grastate.dat file, set the safe_to_bootstrap variable to 1. Then, bootstrap from this node.


After a shutdown, you can boostrap from the node which is marked as safe in the grastate.dat file.

safe_to_bootstrap: 1

In recent Galera versions, the option pc.recovery (enabled by default) saves the cluster state into a file named gvwstate.dat on each member node. As the name of this option suggests (pc – primary component), it saves only a cluster being in the PRIMARY state. An example content of the file may look like this:

cat /var/lib/mysql/gvwstate.dat
my_uuid: 76de8ad9-2aac-11e4-8089-d27fd06893b9
view_id: 3 6c821ecc-2aac-11e4-85a5-56fe513c651f 3
bootstrap: 0
member: 6c821ecc-2aac-11e4-85a5-56fe513c651f 0
member: 6d80ec1b-2aac-11e4-8d1e-b2b2f6caf018 0
member: 76de8ad9-2aac-11e4-8089-d27fd06893b9 0

We can see a three node cluster with all members being up. Thanks to this new feature, the nodes will try to restore the primary component once all the members start to see each other. This makes the PXC cluster automatically recover from being powered down without any manual intervention! In the logs we will see:

Scenario 7: The cluster loses its primary state due to split brain

For the purpose of this example, let’s assume we have a cluster that consists of an even number of nodes: six, for example. Three of them are in one location while the other three are in another location and they lose network connectivity. It is best practice to avoid such topology: if you cannot have an odd number of real nodes, you can use an additional arbitrator (garbd) node or set a higher pc.weight to some nodes. But when the split brain happens any way, none of the separated groups can maintain the quorum: all nodes must stop serving requests and both parts of the cluster will be continuously trying to re-connect.

If you want to restore the service even before the network link is restored, you can make one of the groups primary again using the same command as described in Scenario 5: Two nodes disappear from the cluster

> SET GLOBAL wsrep_provider_options='pc.bootstrap=true';

After this, you are able to work on the manually restored part of the cluster, and the other half should be able to automatically re-join using IST as soon as the network link is restored.


If you set the bootstrap option on both the separated parts, you will end up with two living cluster instances, with data likely diverging away from each other. Restoring a network link in this case will not make them re-join until the nodes are restarted and members specified in configuration file are connected again.

Then, as the Galera replication model truly cares about data consistency: once the inconsistency is detected, nodes that cannot execute row change statement due to a data difference – an emergency shutdown will be performed and the only way to bring the nodes back to the cluster is via the full SST

Based on material from Percona Database Performance Blog

This article is based on the blog post Galera replication - how to recover a PXC cluster by Przemysław Malkowski:

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Last update: 2023-07-21