MySQL Shell 8.0  /  MySQL InnoDB ReplicaSet  /  Forcing a New Primary Instance

9.7 Forcing a New Primary Instance

Unlike InnoDB Cluster, which supports automatic failover in the event of an unexpected failure of the primary, InnoDB ReplicaSet does not have automatic failure detection or a consensus-based protocol such as that provided by Group Replication. If the primary is not available, a manual failover is required. An InnoDB ReplicaSet which has lost its primary is effectively read-only, and for any write changes to be possible a new primary must be chosen. If you cannot connect to the primary, and you cannot use ReplicaSet.setPrimaryInstance() to safely perform a switchover to a new primary as described at Section 9.6, “Changing the Primary Instance”, use the ReplicaSet.forcePrimaryInstance() operation to perform a forced failover of the primary. This is a last resort operation that must only be used in a disaster type scenario where the current primary is unavailable and cannot be restored in any way.


A forced failover is a potentially destructive action and must be used with caution.

If a target instance is not reachable (or is null), the most up-to-date instance is automatically selected and promoted to be the new primary. If a target instance is reachable, it is promoted to be the new primary. Other reachable secondary instances replicate from this new primary. The target instance must have the most up-to-date GTID_EXECUTED set among reachable instances, otherwise the operation fails.

A failover is different from a planned primary change because it promotes a secondary instance without synchronizing with or updating the old primary. That has the following major consequences:

  • Any transactions that had not yet been applied by a secondary at the time the old primary failed are lost.

  • If the old primary is still running and processing transactions, there is a split-brain, and the datasets of the old and new primaries diverge.

If the last known primary is still reachable, the ReplicaSet.forcePrimaryInstance() operation fails, to reduce the risk of split-brain situations. But it is the administrator's responsibility to ensure that the old primary is not reachable by the other instances to prevent or minimize such scenarios.

After a forced failover, the old primary is considered invalid by the new primary and can no longer be part of the ReplicaSet. If you later find an instance that can be recovered, you must remove it from the ReplicaSet and add it as a new instance. A secondary instance is considered invalid if it cannot be switched to the new primary during the failover.

Data loss is possible after a failover because the old primary might have had transactions that were not yet replicated to the secondary being promoted. Moreover, if the instance that was presumed to have failed can still process transactions, for example because the network where it is located is still functioning but unreachable from MySQL Shell, it continues diverging from the promoted instances. Recovering once transaction sets on instances have diverged requires manual intervention and could not be possible in some situations, even if the failed instances can be recovered. Often, the fastest and simplest way to recover from a disaster that required a forced failover is by discarding such diverged transactions and re-provisioning a new instance from the newly promoted primary.