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Fixing "MySQL server has gone away" Errors in C

I ran across an old question on Stack Overflow the other day in which a user was having issues maintaining his connection to MySQL from C. I left a brief answer there for anyone else who might stumble across the same problem in the future, but I felt it was worth expanding on a bit more.

The error "MySQL server has gone away" means the client's connection to the MySQL server was lost. This could be because of many reasons; perhaps MySQL isn't running, perhaps there's network problems, or perhaps there was no activity after a certain amount of time and the server closed the connection. Detailed information on the error is available in the MySQL documentation.

It's possible for the client to attempt to re-connect to the server when it's "gone away" although it won't try to by default. To enable the reconnecting behavior, you need to set the MYSQL_OPT_RECONNECT option to 1 using the mysql_options() function. It should be set after mysql_init() is called and before calling mysql_real_connect(). This should solve the problem if the connection was closed by the server because of a time-out.

The MySQL documentation that discusses the reconnect behavior points out that only one re-connect attempt will be made, which means the query can still fail if the server is stopped or inaccessible. I ran across this problem myself while writing a daemon in C that would periodically pull data from MySQL. The daemon was polling at set intervals far less than the time-out period, so any such errors were the result of an unreachable or stopped server. I simply jumped execution to just prior to my work loop's sleep() call and the daemon would periodically try to re-connect until the server came back up.

#define DBHOSTNAME localhost
#define DBHOSTNAME dbuser
...

MYSQL *db = mysql_init(NULL);
if (db == NULL) {
    fprintf(stderr, "Insufficient memory to allocate MYSQL object.");
    exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
}

/* enable re-connect behavior */
my_bool reconnect = 1;
int success = mysql_options(db, MYSQL_OPT_RECONNECT, &reconnect);
assert(success == 0);

if (mysql_real_connect(db, DBHOSTNAME, DBUSERNAME, DBPASSWORD, DBDATABASE,
    0, NULL, 0) == NULL) {
    fprintf(stderr, "Connection attempt failed: %s\n", mysql_error(db));
    exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
}

for (;;) {
    success = mysql_query(db, "<MYSQL QUERY HERE>");
    if (success != 0) {
        /* The error is most likely "gone away" since the query is
         * hard-coded, doesn't return much data, and the result is
         * managed properly. */
        fprintf(stderr, "Unable to query: %s\n", mysql_error(db));
        goto SLEEP;
    }

    /* call mysql_use_result() and do something with data */
    ...

    SLEEP:
    sleep(SLEEP_SECONDS);
}

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