MySQL 5.7 Reference Manual Including MySQL NDB Cluster 7.5 and NDB Cluster 7.6

6.2.9 When Privilege Changes Take Effect

If the mysqld server is started without the --skip-grant-tables option, it reads all grant table contents into memory during its startup sequence. The in-memory tables become effective for access control at that point.

If you modify the grant tables indirectly using an account-management statement, the server notices these changes and loads the grant tables into memory again immediately. Account-management statements are described in Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”. Examples include GRANT, REVOKE, SET PASSWORD, and RENAME USER.

If you modify the grant tables directly using statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE (which is not recommended), the changes have no effect on privilege checking until you either tell the server to reload the tables or restart it. Thus, if you change the grant tables directly but forget to reload them, the changes have no effect until you restart the server. This may leave you wondering why your changes seem to make no difference!

To tell the server to reload the grant tables, perform a flush-privileges operation. This can be done by issuing a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or by executing a mysqladmin flush-privileges or mysqladmin reload command.

A grant table reload affects privileges for each existing client session as follows:

If the server is started with the --skip-grant-tables option, it does not read the grant tables or implement any access control. Any user can connect and perform any operation, which is insecure. To cause a server thus started to read the tables and enable access checking, flush the privileges.