Zip MySQL database backup with PHP and send as email attachment

I was a happy user of MySQLDumper until a while ago, when my shared hosting upgraded to the cloud architecture and latest PHP version; with that, some modules for PERL went missing and I was left without a viable backup solution (MySQLDumper PHP approach uses a javascript reloading routine which is superslow and is not compatible with wget nor remote cronjobs like

So I found a couple of tutorials on the net (this, and this), mixed them together, especially improving David Walsh’s routine, blended them with some healthy bzip2 compression, and shipped to my webspace.

I stripped the part where you can select which tables to backup; I figured that any backup deserving this name should be “all-inclusive”; also I think that anyone with the special need to backup only selective tables should also be smart enough to change the code to suit his/her needs.

UPDATE 9/9/11: I just added a snippet of code to blacklist some tables from the backup, since I needed to trim the size or it gave a fatal error about the available memory being full; just fill the array with rows as you see fit

This is the result:

$creationstart=strtok(microtime()," ")+strtok(" ");


$subject="Backup DB";
$from_name="Your trustworthy website";

mysql_connect($dbhost, $dbuser, $dbpass);

$tables = array();
$result = mysql_query("SHOW TABLES");
while($row = mysql_fetch_row($result))
$tables[] = $row[0];
foreach($tables as $table) {
if (!isset($tablesblocklist[$table])) {
$result = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM $table");
$return.= "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS $table;";
$row2 = mysql_fetch_row(mysql_query("SHOW CREATE TABLE $table"));
$return.= "\n\n".$row2[1].";\n\n";
while($row = mysql_fetch_row($result)) {
$return.= "INSERT INTO $table VALUES(";
foreach ($row as $field)
$return.= implode(",",$fields).");\n";
$filename='db-backup-'.date("Y-m-d H.m.i").'.sql.bz2';

"From: ".$from_name." <".$from_mail.">\r\n".
"Reply-To: ".$replyto."\r\n".
"MIME-Version: 1.0\r\n".
"Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=\"".$uid."\"\r\n\r\n".
"This is a multi-part message in MIME format.\r\n".
"Content-type:text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1\r\n".
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit\r\n\r\n".
"Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name=\"".$filename."\"\r\n".
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64\r\n".
"Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=\"".$filename."\"\r\n\r\n".

$creationend=strtok(microtime()," ")+strtok(" ");
echo "Database backup compressed to bz2 and sent by email in $creationtime seconds";

(WordPress killed the indenting and I’ve no intention of fixing it manually)

The whole routine runs in roughly 7seconds on my not-so-bright hoster server, including bzip2’ing and mailing, while the original text-only output for David’s code took on the same server roughly 17seconds; probably it’s due to the removal of several redundant loops, and using the builtin mysql_real_escape_string() and implode() functions instead of David’s workarounds.

My sincere thanks go to the authors of the two guides, without whom I wouldn’t be writing this today 😉

4 thoughts on “Zip MySQL database backup with PHP and send as email attachment”

  1. Many thanks! Too bad I had to read through all the comments on David’s tutorial to figure out what wasn’t great about his script before finding your post, instead of your post showing up first in Google results. This is much easier for me to understand than David’s tutorial was, and seems to work awesome so far!

  2. Hi,

    for database backups I use bash scripts, for example:



    DBS=`mysql -u$DBUSER -h$DBHOST -p$DBPASS -e"show databases"`
    WEEKDAY=`date +%A`

    for DATABASE in dbnameone dbnametwo



    I wrote on my blog a backup tutorial where rsync is used for the file transport.

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