mysqldump -u USER -p –single-transaction –quick –lock-tables=false DATABASE | gzip > OUTPUT.gz
The mysqldump reference at dev.mysql.com even says…
To dump large tables, you should combine the –single-transaction option with –quick.
Says nothing about that being dependent on the database being InnoDB, mine are myISAM and this worked beautifully for me. Server load was almost completely unaffected and my service ran like a Rolex during the entire process. If you have large databases and backing them up is affecting your end user… this IS the solution. 😉