How to see log files in MySQL?

I’ve read that Mysql server creates a log file where it keeps a record of all activities – like when and what queries execute.

Can anybody tell me where it exists in my system? How can I read it?

Basically, I need to back up the database with different input [backup between two dates] so I think I need to use log file here, that’s why I want to do it…

I think this log must be secured somehow because sensitive information such as usernames and password may be logged [if any query require this]; so may it be secured, not easily able to be seen?

I have root access to the system, how can I see the log?

When I try to open /var/log/mysql.log it is empty.

This is my config file:

port        = 3306
socket      = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

socket      = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
nice        = 0

log = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log 

user        = mysql
socket      = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
port        = 3306
basedir     = /usr
datadir     = /var/lib/mysql
tmpdir      = /tmp

bind-address        =
# * Fine Tuning
key_buffer      = 16M
max_allowed_packet  = 16M
thread_stack        = 192K
thread_cache_size       = 8

general_log_file        = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log
general_log             = 1


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

Here is a simple way to enable them. In mysql we need to see often 3 logs which are mostly needed during any project development.

  • The Error Log. It contains information about errors that occur while
    the server is running (also server start and stop)
  • The General Query Log. This is a general record of what mysqld is
    doing (connect, disconnect, queries)
  • The Slow Query Log. Ιt consists of “slow” SQL statements (as
    indicated by its name).

By default no log files are enabled in MYSQL. All errors will be shown in the syslog (/var/log/syslog).

To Enable them just follow below steps:

step1: Go to this file (/etc/mysql/conf.d/mysqld_safe_syslog.cnf) and remove or comment those line.

step2: Go to mysql conf file (/etc/mysql/my.cnf) and add following lines

To enable error log add following



To enable general query log add following

general_log_file        = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log
general_log             = 1

To enable Slow Query Log add following

log_slow_queries       = /var/log/mysql/mysql-slow.log
long_query_time = 2

step3: save the file and restart mysql using following commands

service mysql restart

To enable logs at runtime, login to mysql client (mysql -u root -p) and give:

SET GLOBAL general_log = 'ON';
SET GLOBAL slow_query_log = 'ON';

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Method 2

The MySQL logs are determined by the global variables such as:

To see the settings and their location, run this shell command:

mysql -se "SHOW VARIABLES" | grep -e log_error -e general_log -e slow_query_log

To print the value of error log, run this command in the terminal:

mysql -e "SELECT @@GLOBAL.log_error"

To read content of the error log file in real time, run:

sudo tail -f $(mysql -Nse "SELECT @@GLOBAL.log_error")

Note: Hit ControlC when finish

When general log is enabled, try:

sudo tail -f $(mysql -Nse "SELECT CONCAT(@@datadir, @@general_log_file)")

To use mysql with the password access, add -p or -pMYPASS parameter. To to keep it remembered, you can configure it in your ~/.my.cnf, e.g.


So it’ll be remembered for the next time.

Method 3

You have to activate the query logging in mysql.

  1. edit /etc/my.cnf
  2. restart the computer or the mysqld service
    service mysqld restart
  3. open phpmyadmin/any application that uses mysql/mysql console and run a query
  4. cat /tmp/mysql.log ( you should see the query )

Method 4

From the MySQL reference manual:

By default, all log files are created in the data directory.

Check /var/lib/mysql folder.

Method 5

In my (I have LAMP installed) /etc/mysql/my.cnf file I found following, commented lines in [mysqld] section:

general_log_file        = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log
general_log             = 1

I had to open this file as superuser, with terminal:

sudo geany /etc/mysql/my.cnf

(I prefer to use Geany instead of gedit or VI, it doesn’t matter)

I just uncommented them & save the file then restart MySQL with

sudo service MySQL restart

Run several queries, open the above file (/var/log/mysql/mysql.log) and the log was there 🙂

Method 6

In addition to the answers above you can pass in command line parameters to the mysqld process for logging options instead of manually editing your conf file. For example, to enable general logging and specifiy a file:

mysqld --general-log --general-log-file=/var/log/mysql.general.log

Confirming other answers above, mysqld --help --verbose gives you the values from the conf file (so running with command line options general-log is FALSE); whereas mysql -se "SHOW VARIABLES" | grep -e log_error -e general_log gives:

general_log     ON
general_log_file        /var/log/mysql.general.log

Use slightly more compact syntax for the error log:

mysqld --general-log --general-log-file=/var/log/mysql.general.log --log-error=/var/log/mysql.error.log

Method 7

To complement loyola‘s answer it is worth mentioning that as of MySQL 5.1 log_slow_queries is deprecated and is replaced with slow-query-log

Using log_slow_queries will cause your service mysql restart or service mysql start to fail

Method 8

shell> mysqladmin flush-logs

shell> mv host_name.err-old backup-directory

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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