WordPress Tutorial

How to Perform Search and Replace in WordPress Database

Updating your database records can be time-consuming if you do it manually. Luckily, there’s a way to update your WordPress database records in bulk. In this article, we’ll cover the tutorial on how to perform a search and replace in WordPress database with a WordPress plugin and a MySQL query.

Reasons to Use Search and Replace On a WordPress Database

As your WordPress website depends heavily on its database, it’s essential to optimize your collection of data periodically.

Here are several reasons why you need to modify your WordPress database:

  • Renaming keywords — SEO is ever-changing and keywords that worked for your site a few months ago, might not anymore. Performing search and replace can easily solve this problem for you.
  • Misspelling and typos — this applies to data that contains typos and grammatical errors. They happen and searching endlessly is never fun.
  • Deleting characters — in some cases, WordPress updates can mess up your database by randomly adding weird characters or symbols to your data.

Regardless of the reason, the process of updating your database usually involves a large number of data tables. Image how tedious it would be to go through each table and modify the outdated data manually.

This is where the WordPress search and replace action comes in handy. It helps you find flawed data across database tables and modify them in no time.

Keep in mind that any changes made cannot be undone! You should consider backing up your WordPress site before making any changes in your database to prevent possible data loss.

How to Perform Search and Replace On a WordPress Database?

There are two ways to perform a search and replace on a WordPress database — using a plugin or a MySQL query. Just below, we’ll be covering both of the options.

Using a Plugin

This method is ideal for users with no programming experience. With a plugin, you get to run a search and replace operation as many times as needed without dealing with a single line of code.

In this tutorial, we’re going to use the Better Search Replace plugin. This migration plugin has plenty of useful features for managing your WordPress database. Its features besides search and replace include but are not limited to a backup creator, and database import features.

If you only need the search and replace function, the free version will do just fine. Should you need the rest of the features, you can upgrade to the Pro version at a starting price of $59 per year.

  1. From your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to the Plugins -> Add New section.
  2. Search for the Better Search Replace plugin, then select Install Now.
    How to install Better Search Replace plugin.
  3. Click on the Activate button to activate the plugin.
  4. From your WordPress admin dashboard, navigate to the Tools -> Better Search Replace section.
  5. In the Search/Replace section, you will need to enter all of the following:

Better Search and Replace plugin, fill in information on what to search

  • Search for should have the word or phrase that you want to change.
  • Replace with should hold the word or phrase that will replace the original.
  • Select tables function lets you choose which tables of your database you want to modify.
  • Replace GUIDs? lets you replace the modified data’s global unique identifier (GUID) number. If your site is already live, we advise against checking this box.
  • Tick the Run as dry run? box if you want to review the changes first before executing them.

If you want to select all the tables in the column, you can press CTRL+A. You can also select individual tables by holding CTRL and clicking one table at a time. If you want to perform a case-insensitive data search, make sure to tick the Case-Insensitive? box.

Once you’re done, click Run Search/Replace.

If you run the plugin without the dry run option, it will immediately make changes to your database.
This image shows you the confirmation message from Better Search Replace plugin you will get once you have successfully run a search and replace in WordPress database.

Using MySQL Query

It’s also possible to perform a search and replace in WordPress database using MySQL query via phpMyAdmin.

First, we’ll discuss how to identify your WordPress database name, which is worth reading if you have more than one database under your account. Then, we will uncover how to perform a search and replace in the database.

  1. From your hPanel dashboard, navigate to the Files -> File Manager section.
    This image shows you how to access File Manager from your hpanel dashboard.
  2. The wp-config.php file should be in the root directory of your website. In this case, you can find it in /public_html directory. Then, double-click the file to open it.
    This image shows you how to locate and access wp-config.php file from the File Manager.
  3. You can find the WordPress database name you’re looking for under the following line:
// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //

/** The name of the database for WordPress */

For more information about the wp-config.php file, feel free to check this article.

  1. From your hPanel dashboard, navigate to the Databases -> phpMyAdmin section.
    This image shows you how to access phpMyAdmin from your hpanel dashboard.
  2. Locate your WordPress database, then select Enter phpMyAdmin.
    This image shows you how to access your WordPress database via phpMyAdmin.
  3. In the phpMyAdmin page, navigate to the SQL tab at the top menu bar.
    This image shows you the location of SQL tab in phpMyAdmin.
  4. Add the following code snippet to the available space
update TABLE_NAME set FIELD_NAME = replace(FIELD_NAME, 'Text to search, 'Text to replace it with');

Be sure to replace the placeholder texts with the correct information:

    • TABLE_NAME represents the name of the table you want to modify.
    • FIELD_NAME represents the name of the field/column where the targeted data resides.
    • ‘Text to search’ contains the word or phrase that you wish to change.
    • ‘Text to replace it with’ contains the word or phrase that will replace the previous text.

Once you are done writing the query, click on the Go button to execute it.

Conclusion

To keep your WordPress website functional and up to date, you need to maintain its database periodically. The maintenance includes replacing outdated data. It’s much easier to tackle the job in bulk with the help of WordPress search and update operation.

There are two methods to perform a search and update in the WordPress database:

  1. Using the Better Search Replace plugin — suitable for users with no programming experience.
  2. Using MySQL query — ideal for users with moderate to advanced technical knowledge.

Which method would you prefer? Let us know in the comment section down below!

About the author

Gediminas B.

Gediminas was a passionate content writer and SEO geek at Hostinger. He started his journey at customer support and aims to use his gathered knowledge to create the most epic content the world has ever seen. From WordPress to server management, there's no topic he can't cover! He also likes cats.

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