Accessing your MySQL database from outside PythonAnywhere

Warning -- this will only work in paid accounts

If you have a paid PythonAnywhere account, you can access your MySQL database from outside PythonAnywhere using one of several techniques, depending on what you want to do.

MySQL Workbench

If you're running MySQL Workbench, you can configure it to connect using SSH directly with settings like this:

Setting Value
SSH Hostname:
SSH Username: your PythonAnywhere username
SSH Password: the password you use to log in to the PythonAnywhere website
SSH Key file: should not be necessary when you specify the password
MySQL Hostname: your PythonAnywhere database hostname, eg.
MySQL Server Port: 3306
Username: your PythonAnywhere username
Password: your PythonAnywhere database password
Default Schema: your database name, eg yourusername$mydatabase
  • You may also need to allow ssh login based management as one of the mysql workbench options under server connections -> remote management.

  • It's also a good idea to set the Edit -> Preferences -> SQL Editor -> DBMS_Connection keep alive interval setting to 200, to avoid any "lost connection" issues due to our 5-minute connection timeout.

From Python code

If you're running Python code on your local machine, and you want it to access your MySQL database, you can install the sshtunnel package and then use code like this:

import mysql.connector
import sshtunnel

sshtunnel.SSH_TIMEOUT = 5.0
sshtunnel.TUNNEL_TIMEOUT = 5.0

with sshtunnel.SSHTunnelForwarder(
    ssh_username='your PythonAnywhere username', ssh_password='the password you use to log in to the PythonAnywhere website',
    remote_bind_address=('your PythonAnywhere database hostname, eg.', 3306)
) as tunnel:
    connection = mysql.connector.connect(
        user='your PythonAnywhere username', password='your PythonAnywhere database password',
        host='', port=tunnel.local_bind_port,
        database='your database name, eg yourusername$mydatabase',
    # Do stuff

This example uses the mysql-connector library, but you can use any MySQL library you like.

Manual SSH tunnelling

For other tools, you can set up a tunnel that pretends to be a MySQL server running on your machine but actually sends data over SSH to your PythonAnywhere MySQL instance. If you're using a Mac or Linux, you probably already have the right tools installed.

As long as you're not running a MySQL instance locally, just invoke SSH locally (that is, on your own machine -- not on PythonAnywhere) like this (replacing username with your PythonAnywhere username):

ssh -L

That -L option means "forward LOCAL port 3306 to REMOTE host port 3306" (the port numbers can be different, but in this case the standard MySQL port would be easiest). You can also use -R to cause remote connections to be forwarded back to you, but that's a pretty unusual thing to do for most people.

REMEMBER that you need to keep your this process open at all times while you're accessing your PythonAnywhere MySQL server from your local machine! As soon as that closes, your forwarded connection is also lost.

At this point, you should be able to run code that connects to MySQL as normal. One thing to watch out for, however -- many MySQL clients treat the hostname localhost as special, meaning "connect to the local server over a domain socket". What you want to do is force it to connect to your local machine on port 3306, and you can do this by specifying for the host instead of localhost. For example, to use the command-line mysql client you'd invoke it like this:

mysql -h -u username -p

Finally, if you are running a MySQL server locally and hence port 3306 is already in use, you can modify your SSH invocation to use any other port:

ssh -L

However, you'd then need to configure your MySQL client to use this other port, as this is not the default for MySQL. For example:

mysql -h --port 3333 -u username -p

You can also use this technique to give Python code access to the database instead of using the the sshtunnel technique.

Many thanks to user Cartroo for the first version of this guide!