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How to Upgrade MySQL 5.6 to 8 Version

To ensure database efficiency, it’s important to keep up with technological advancements,  particularly in the context of MySQL. As MySQL versions 5.6 and 5.7 have reached the end of life, upgrading to MySQL 8 is a clear-cut decision. 

Released in October 2018, MySQL 8 introduces many powerful features that enhance database performance. It comes with several advantages, including reduced downtime, which is a significant concern for 91% of businesses. What’s more, MySQL 8 also offers advanced security features and support for modern functionalities like window functions and common table expressions, enhancing efficiency, stability, and scalability. 

To help you upgrade MySQL 5.6 to 8, this guide will outline the steps you can take to upgrade successfully. But first, let’s delve into the changes between the versions.

What are the Main Changes in MySQL 8?

MySQL 5.6 is a well-established relational database management system (RDBMS) that was released in February 2013. It has served as a reliable backbone for many organizations, providing a strong foundation for various applications with its standard performance and security features.

MySQL 5.7 is a version released in October 2015, known for enhanced performance, JSON support, and better security compared to its predecessor, MySQL 5.6.

MySQL 8 is the latest iteration of this open-source database. The version 8 brings substantial changes from the previous versions. It offers enhanced performance through the InnoDB storage engine, reduced downtime with instant DDL, and improved security with the new default authentication method — caching_sha2_password. 

Additionally, it embraces advanced SQL functionalities like window functions and common table expressions, offering developers more flexibility and power in querying and managing data.

Key Changes in MySQL 8

MySQL 8 brings a comprehensive set of improvements, making it a compelling choice for businesses seeking a competitive edge. The notable changes include:

  • Transactional Data Dictionary: MySQL 8.0 replaces the nontransactional system used in earlier versions with a transactional data dictionary, which stores information about database objects more efficiently.
  • Advanced Security Features: It includes new security enhancements such as the caching_sha2_password authentication method, which replaces mysql_native_password as the default authentication method. This provides more secure password encryption and better performance.
  • Enhanced JSON Support: MySQL 8.0 introduces new JSON functions and improves performance for sorting and grouping JSON values. This includes extended syntax for ranges in JSON path expressions, JSON table functions, aggregation functions, merge functions, and improved sorting capabilities.
  • GIS and Spatial Reference System (SRS) Support: The version delivers comprehensive geography support, including metadata support for SRS, SRS-aware spatial datatypes, indexes, and functions. It ships with about 5000 SRIDs from the EPSG Geodetic Parameter Dataset, covering georeferenced ellipsoids and 2D projections.
  • Character Sets and Performance Improvements: The default character set has changed from latin1 to utf8mb4, and the default collation has also been updated. This change reflects a significant improvement in SQL performance for sorting UTF8MB4 strings.
  • Role-Based Access Control: MySQL 8.0 now supports roles, which are named collections of privileges that can be easily managed and assigned to user accounts.
  • New File Structure: The way physical files are handled has changed, with formats like .TRG, .FRM, .TRN, and .PAR no longer existing in MySQL 8.
  • Optimization and Performance Enhancements: MySQL 8.0 is designed to perform better and more efficiently, especially in read/write workloads compared to MySQL 5.7.
  • Common Table Expressions (CTEs) and Window Functions: These new features offer advanced query capabilities, allowing for more complex and efficient SQL operations.

MySQL upgrade 5.6 to 8 is designed to meet the evolving demands of modern applications. When you update MySQL 5.6 to 8 version, you make a strategic shift to a more resilient and feature-rich database environment.

Does it Make Sense to Upgrade MySQL 5.6 to 8?

Certainly. MySQL 5.6 to 8 upgrade is more than simply adopting the latest version. It is an investment in the longevity and efficiency of your data management system. Let’s explore the key reasons why this upgrade makes perfect sense:

Up to 2x Faster Performance

MySQL 8.0 outshines its predecessor with impressive speed improvements. Sysbench Performance Benchmarks highlight its efficiency in both read/write and read-only scenarios, setting new records with up to 1.8 million queries per second. This enhanced speed translates to quicker response times, ultimately improving the overall user experience.

Transactional Data Dictionary for Reliability

In MySQL 8.0, the Data Dictionary is stored in a single InnoDB tablespace, ensuring atomic and crash-safe DDL statements. This consolidation minimizes potential inconsistencies, enhancing the overall reliability of the database system.

Common Table Expressions for Productivity

The introduction of Common Table Expressions (CTEs) in MySQL 8.0 empowers developers with advanced tooling. CTEs, also known as WITH queries, create named temporary result sets, reducing code complexity and making queries more readable and maintainable.

Window Functions for Code Simplicity

MySQL 8.0 incorporates Window Functions, allowing developers to perform calculations on rows related to a specific query row. This functionality reduces code complexity and increases developer productivity by simplifying intricate data manipulations.

SQL Roles for Enhanced Security

MySQL 8.0 introduces SQL Roles, providing a named collection of privileges. This enhances security by allowing more granular control over access permissions. Roles can be granted, created, dropped, and applied during a session, offering a flexible and secure approach to managing user access.

Default to UTF8MB4 Character Set

MySQL 8.0 defaults to the utf8mb4 character set, ensuring richer support for mobile applications and international character sets. This is crucial in a diverse digital landscape where emojis and various character encodings coexist.

Additional reasons to make a MySQL upgrade 5.6 to 8 version include: 

  • Improved management of heated data rows
  • Improved safeguards against brute force attacks
  • MySQL now uses OpenSSL as the primary TLS/SSL library
  • Encrypted REDO & UNDO logs
  • Enhanced security with password rotation policy
  • Enhanced Geographic Information System (GIS) support for mobile apps
  • Improved efficiency and refinement of information schema
  • Enhanced group replication and InnoDB Cluster functionality
  • Introduced pluggable dynamic privileges for flexible access control
  • Improved out-of-the-box experience
  • Integrated upgrade checker utility

How to Upgrade from MySQL 5.6 to 8

Initiating an upgrade MySQL 5.6 to 8 comes with a significant performance advantage offered by the latest version. 

Note that upgrading to the latest release within a series is recommended before moving to the next version. For instance, upgrade to the latest MySQL 5.7 release before transitioning to MySQL 8.0. Direct MySQL 5.6 upgrade to 8 version is not supported. Once a release series reaches General Availability (GA) status, upgrading within that series is fully supported.

Note on Obsolete Elements in MySQL 5.6

When upgrading from MySQL 5.6, it’s also important to be aware of certain obsolete data types and features. Data types like YEAR(2), ENUM, TINYTEXT, MEDIUMTEXT, LONGTEXT, and clauses such as NATIONAL, CHARACTER SET, and COLLATE are considered outdated in MySQL 8. It’s advisable to use lookup tables with foreign keys instead of ENUM, and prefer VARCHAR or TEXT for text types. For character sets and collations, using the CHARACTER SET and COLLATE options within column or table definitions is recommended.

Now, here are the steps for upgrading from MySQL 5.6 to 8.

Step 1 – Create a Backup of Your Current Database

  • Stop the MySQL service to ensure a consistent backup.
  • Backup entire MySQL path. his precaution ensures a safety net for your data, allowing for a straightforward restoration in case of any issues during the upgrade.

Step 2 – Upgrade from Mysql 5.6 to 5.7 as an Intermediate Step

  • Ensure MySQL is stopped.
  • Disable deprecated query_cache_* configurations.
  • Download MySQL 5.7 from the installation wizard mirror and extract the files.
  • Install MySQL 5.7 binaries on your system.
  • Start MySQL.
  • Perform the upgrade process.
  • After the upgrade, restart the MySQL service.

Step 3 – MySQL 5.7 to 8.0 Upgrade

The upgrade between 5.7 and 8.0 follows a similar pattern.

  • Stop the MySQL service in preparation for the next upgrade.
  • Download MySQL 8.0 from the installation wizard mirror and extract the files.
  • Install MySQL 8.0 binaries on your system.
  • Initiate MySQL; the upgrade process will begin automatically. 
  • Monitor the progress using the relevant command.
  • Keep an eye on the upgrade progress, as it might take some time depending on the amount of data and system performance.

Step 4 – Tidy Up

  • If the upgrade completes successfully, clean up your system.
  • If there are no errors, safely remove the MySQL full backup directory.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully upgraded your MySQL database to version 8, unlocking a myriad of features to optimize performance and meet the evolving demands of today’s data management

Reverting in Case of Failure

In case of any issues during the upgrade, you can revert to the original MySQL service using the provided command in the installation wizard.

How ModLogix Can Help with Upgrading MySQL 5.6 to 8?

With over 2 decades of experience, over 100 professionals, and an average client engagement of 5 years, ModLogix is committed to bringing your software into the modern era. We believe in a granular approach to software modernization, ensuring practical and cost-effective solutions.

Our technical expertise with legacy system upgrade services extends to outdated technologies like .NET Framework to .NET Core Migration, AngularJS to Angular Migration, VB.NET App Modernization, and Visual FoxPro App Modernization.

We recently helped a global healthcare insurance provider to update their databases and manage financial data for healthcare facilities. Facing challenges from increasing data volumes and acquisition, the client aimed to diversify services but encountered integration and data issues.

To overcome these challenges, we conducted data migration and standardization, focusing on unifying systems and converting the database to Microsoft SQL Server 17. The result was a new data architecture built to meet current needs and support future growth. 

Contact us to get started on reviving your outdated applications with cutting-edge features and time-tested qualities.


MySQL 8 is a significant leap forward from MySQL 5.6, with improved performance, reliability, and security. It includes features like transactional data dictionary, advanced security, and enhanced SQL functionalities. Follow the outlined steps to seamlessly transition to MySQL 8.

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