5.2. Replication Implementation Overview
MySQL replication is based on the master server keeping track of all changes to your databases (updates, deletes, and so on) in its binary logs. Therefore, to use replication, you must enable binary logging on the master server. See Section 4.12.3, "The Binary Log."
Each slave server receives from the master the saved updates that the master has recorded in its binary log, so that the slave can execute the same updates on its copy of the data.
It is extremely important to realize that the binary log is simply a record starting from the fixed point in time at which you enable binary logging. Any slaves that you set up need copies of the databases on your master as they existed at the moment you enabled binary logging on the master. If you start your slaves with databases that are not in the same state as those on the master when the binary log was started, your slaves are quite likely to fail.
One way to copy the master's data to the slave is to use the LOAD DATA FROM MASTER statement. However, LOAD DATA FROM MASTER works only if all the tables on the master use the MyISAM storage engine. In addition, this statement acquires a global read lock, so no updates on the master are possible while the tables are being transferred to the slave. When we implement lock-free hot table backup, this global read lock will no longer be necessary.
Due to these limitations, we recommend that at this point you use LOAD DATA FROM MASTER only if the dataset on the master is relatively small, or if a prolonged read lock on the master is acceptable. Although the actual speed of LOAD DATA FROM MASTER may vary from system to system, a good rule of thumb for how long it takes is 1 second per 1MB of data. This is a rough estimate, but you should find it fairly accurate if both master and slave are equivalent to 700MHz Pentium CPUs in performance and are connected through a 100Mbps network.
After the slave has been set up with a copy of the master's data, it connects to the master and waits for updates to process. If the master fails, or the slave loses connectivity with your master, the slave keeps trying to connect periodically until it is able to resume listening for updates. The --master-connect-retry option controls the retry interval. The default is 60 seconds.
Each slave keeps track of where it left off when it last read from its master server. The master has no knowledge of how many slaves it has or which ones are up to date at any given time.