Backup MySql-Database using only FTP

We have just had the case of having ftp access to a site on a shared hosting LAMP webspace but needed also the database and mainly the database scheme to setup our own development-system for the app. This is actually very straight forward using the following snippet uploaded and executed on the webserver:

exec( 'mysqldump -h -u dboYYY -pZZZ dbYYY > dump.sql', $ret );

This is what you do:

  • Find the configuration with the db-credentials in the source of the application and replace
    • with the hostname,
    • dboYYY with the username,
    • ZZZ with the password (notice there is NO blank between the option -p and the password!),
    • dbYYY with the database you would like to backup.
  • Save the snippet as file with extension .php and copy it via ftp to the webspace.
  • Find the URL to execute the script.
  • If it worked, there should be a new file dump.sql in the same directory, download it, it contains the db-schema and all data.
  • Delete both files to wipe your traces.

If it does not work try something like “exec(‘ls -la’);”. If you see the contents of the directory you can use the exec-function and the problem is something else.

Happy hacking!