Setting Up Amazon RDS as a Slave to a self-managed MySQL server



Last week, we migrated our MySQL database server, which was running on an EC2 instance, to RDS. We hoped the migration process would be smooth.

As always, migrating a large database has its challenges. Business folks expect the minimum possible downtime.

The plan was simple.

  1. Launch an RDS instance
  2. Load a full dump into it
  3. Configure it to act as a slave of the self-managed server (current master)
  4. On the D-day, pull the website down and promote the RDS instance to take over as the new master

We soon discovered that RDS comes with curtailed root permissions. There are several commands that are disallowed. Some of these include “CHANGE MASTER TO….”

What do we do now?

One option was to carry out the migration in one go, while the website was offline. This meant the downtime would have been several hours, instead of minutes. Obviously, not an acceptable option at all.

Some R&D was all it took to discover how to proceed with the original approach.

RDS comes with a bunch of stored procedures, which help you configure it as a slave. There is almost a one-to-one mapping of these stored procedures with the commands that are disallowed.

MySQL CommandCorrosponding Stored Proc
CHANGE MASTER TOmysql.rds_set_external_master
START SLAVEmysql.rds_start_replication
STOP SLAVEmysql.rds_stop_replication
RESET MASTERmysql.rds_reset_external_master

So, Using these stored procedures, you can now configure your RDS instance as a slave to your self-managed MySQL server

After loading a full dump to RDS, Call the stored procedure mysql.rds_set_external_master like this

CALL mysql.rds_set_external_master ('servername', port, 'user', 'password', 'binlog-file', binlog-offset, 0);


CALL mysql.rds_start_replication;

This will make RDS a slave of your self managed mysql server. You can run “SHOW SLAVE STATUS” to see its working.

When it is time to promote RDS to master. You call these stored procedures

CALL mysql.rds_stop_replication;

CALL mysql.rds_reset_external_master;

That’s it. Now point your applications to the RDS instance and take your site live.


For your RDS to work as a slave, it needs permissions to connect to port 3306 of your current master. Make sure you open this port for the RDS instance.

You can run the following command to find out the ip address of your rds instance

ping -c

Shireesh Jayashetty photo Shireesh Jayashetty
Shireesh heads technology at eLitmus. He is generally curious about things, especially technology. His curiosity almost cost him his first job when he hacked into a customer's system to gain unauthorized internet access (mid '90s). He was lucky, his employer saw this as a potential rather than a threat.