How to Restore a MySQL Database with Command Line or Restore Tools

November 22nd, 2021

The article gives a deep insight into how to restore MySQL database from a backup file using the mysqldump utility and third-party backup and restore tools, such as dbForge Studio for MySQL, MySQL Workbench, and phpMyAdmin.


There may be situations when data gets lost or corrupted, for example, when users accidentally deleted or overwrote data. For these reasons, it is recommended to make a backup on a regular basis. Through this process, you can ensure data consistency in your databases and be sure that nothing critical happens to your data and it won’t be lost irrevocably. In addition, data backup helps keep data up-to-date and allows you to restore it at any time in the state you back it up before the data was damaged.

MySQL creates many files that are used to back up the data, structure, and indexes of MySQL databases. Some of them include the following:

  • my.cnf file that stores MySQL configuration settings.
  • .frm file that stores a schema and a definition of the table.
  • (for the MyISAM engine only) .myd file that stores table data.
  • (for the MyISAM engine only) .myi file that stores table indexes.
  • (for the InnoDB engine only) .ibd file stores table data and indexes.

So, to avoid data loss, the above-mentioned files should not be deleted.

Use the mysql command to restore a database from the command line

In MySQL, you can use the mysql command to restore the database from a dump file.

mysqldump is a command-line utility used to generate a MySQL logical database backup as a single .sql file with a set of SQL statements. The utility helps you dump MySQL tables, multiple databases, or their objects. Keep in mind that it is not possible to back up MySQL databases or data to separate .sql files with the mysqldump utility. For more information about how to back up MySQL databases and data, see Different Ways to Back up MySQL Databases and Tables.

Besides, you must have access to the running MySQL server to use the mysqldump and mysql commands.

Now, it is time to see how to restore the MySQL database. First, you need to create an empty MySQL database and then restore a MySQL dump file.

Step 1: Create the database

In the command prompt, connect to the MySQL server on which you want to create the database and run the mysql command:

Note: The database name should be the same as the database you want to restore.

mysql> create database sakila;

This will create the database into which you will be able to import database structure and data from the dump file.

Step 2: Restore the database

Now, we can restore the MySQL database from the dump file. The syntax for the command is as follows:

mysql -u [user name] –p [target_database_name] < [dumpfilename.sql]

The parameters include:

  • -u [user name]is a username to connect to a MySQL server.
  • -p is a password for the username you use to connect to the server.
  • target_database_name is the name of the empty database into which you want to load data from the backup file.
  • < is a parameter that refers to the process of a database restore.
  • [dumpfilename.sql] is the path to the dump file.

Thus, to restore the sakila database, execute the following command:

mysql --host=dbfmylast --user=root --port=3306 -p sakila < D:\sakila.sql

where dbfmylast is the target server with the empty database into which we’ll load data from the sakila.sql dump file.

To check the result, run the following:

mysql> use sakila;
mysql> show tables;

In the output, you will see the list of tables located in the sakila database.

View the list of tables

Restore all databases in MySQL from the dump file using mysqldump

With the mysqldump utility, you can restore not only a single database but all databases on the server in bulk.

The syntax to restore all MySQL databases from a dump file is as follows:

mysql -u root -p < alldatabases.sql

where alldatabases.sql is a path to the dump file containing a backup of all databases on the server.

For example, we are going to restore all MySQL databases from the backup_all_databases.sql dump file. For this, we are running the following command:

mysql -u root -p < D:\backup_all_databases.sql

Use mysqldump to restore one table from the dump file

Under some circumstances, it may be required to restore a specific MySQL table from the database – when someone dropped the table or overwrote its data.

For demo purposes, make a backup copy of the working_hours table from the sakila database by executing the mysqldump command. The backup_working_hours_table.sql file is the output file that will contain the backup of the table.

mysqldump --host=dbfmylast --user=root --port=3306 -p sakila working_hours > D:\backup_working_hours_table.sql

After the backup was created, drop the working_hours table with the DROP TABLE statement.

mysql> drop table working_hours;

Verify that the table was removed from the sakila database:

mysql> use sakila;
mysql> show tables;

The command lists MySQL tables available in the database. As you can see, there is no working_hours table.

View the list of tables excluding the dropped MySQL table in the database

Now, restore the backup of the working_hours table into the sakila database by executing the mysql command:

mysql --host=dbfmylast --user=root --port=3306 -p sakila < D:\backup_working_hours_table.sql

The table will be imported into the sakila database:

Retrieve the list of tables including the restored table in the sakila database

Restore a MySQL database from the .sql file using Workbench

This section explains how to restore a MySQL database from the .sql file using the MySQL Workbench tool. Prior to restoring the database, create an empty database on the server you want to connect to.

Open MySQL Workbench and click Data Import/Restore in Navigator.

Open MySQL Workbench to start restoring the database

In the Administration – Data Import/Restore document, select Import from the Self-Contained File and browse for the .sql file containing the backup of the sakila database. Then, under Default Schema to be Imported To, select the target database into which the backup of the source database with its structure and data will be loaded.

Select the backup file and the target database using MySQL Workbench

At the bottom of the document, select Dump Structure and Data from the drop-down list to restore the database structure and data.

Dump the database structure and data using MySQL Workbench

When all the parameters are set up, switch to the Import Progress tab and click Start Import. After the import is completed, you can close the tool.

After the import is completed, view the progress

Restore the database in MySQL using phpMyAdmin

If you got used to working with phpMyAdmin, you can easily recover the deleted table or copy a MySQL database to another server.

For MySQL database backup and restoration, you need to use the Export and Import tools respectively.

To restore a MySQL database, open phpMyAdmin and create an empty database to which the database will be exported. For this, switch to the Databases tab, enter the database name, select the same collation as in the backup database, and click Create.

Create a MySQL database using phpMyAdmin

The database will appear in the Navigation panel. Then, click the hamburger menu and select Import.

Select Import to start restoring the MySQL database using phpMyAdmin

On the Importing into the database “sakila” page, under File to Import:, click Choose File to select the file with the database backup. At the bottom of the page, click Go to start restoring the database.

Once done, the sakila database will be populated with the MySQL tables and other database objects.

View the sakila database in the Navigation panel

Back up and restore MySQL databases Easily with dbForge for MySQL

In the previous sections, we have already examined how to restore MySQL databases using the command line, MySQL Workbench, and phpMyAdmin. Now, it is time to go through the step-by-step process of database recovery with dbForge Studio for MySQL. It is the MySQL and MariaDB database development, administration, and management tool that allows you to perform multiple tasks in one IDE due to its cutting-edge features and capabilities.

dbForge Studio for MySQL provides the built-in MySQL backup tool to back up and restore MySQL databases using its automating features easily and quickly.

Back up the database

To back up the MySQL database, open dbForge Studio for MySQL and connect to the server on which you are going to make a backup of the database. In Database Explorer, right-click the database and select Backup and Restore > Backup Database.

Back up the database with dbForge Studio for MySQL

In the Database Backup Wizard, select the database, specify a path to the backup file, and enter the name of the output file.

Choose backup options in the Database Backup Wizard

Then, switch to the Backup Content page to select structure, data, and database objects to back up.

Select the database structure, data, and database objects in dbForge Studio for MySQL

If you want to set additional options or configure error handling behavior, switch to the corresponding pages in the wizard. To start the database backup, click Backup. After the backup is complete, the corresponding notification is displayed and you can close the wizard.

Besides, you can schedule MySQL daily backups through the command line. This will help you automate your daily operations and, thus, save your time and increase productivity.

Restore the database

To restore the database, first, you need to create an empty database into which the backup database will be imported. For this, right-click the connection on which you are going to restore the database backup and select New Database. In the document that opens, enter the name of the database, set charset and collation options, and save the changes.

In Database Explorer, right-click the server connection on which you want to restore the database and select Backup and Restore > Restore Database.

Open the Database Restore Wizard in dbForge Studio for MySQL

In the Database Restore Wizard, select the backup file and click Restore. If you are going to load the database to the target database with a distinctive name, enter its name in the Database field.

Select the SQL backup file to run the database restoration process in dbForge Studio for MySQL

As a result, you have restored the MySQL database without any errors. To close the wizard, click Finish.

Then, refresh Database Explorer to check that the database was restored.

The restored database is displayed in Database Explorer of dbForge Studio for MySQL


In the article, we have provided step-by-step procedures about how to restore MySQL databases and tables using the command line, MySQL Workbench, phpMyAdmin, and dbForge Studio for MySQL.

With dbForge Studio for MySQL, you can double your productivity and take your user experience to the next level, the best one. Having tried this top-notch dbForge Studio for MySQL tool, you will no longer want to return to other similar tools.

Download and install a 30-day free trial version to evaluate the features of dbForge Studio for MySQL. After it expires, consider the purchase of the full license of the tool to improve your productivity during the MySQL database backup/restoration and other database development and management operations. Also, you can watch this video tutorial:

Download a 30-day free trial version of dbForge Studio for MySQL

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