Exploring WPDB in WordPress: Methods, Hooks, and Examples

WordPress is a powerful content management system that allows developers to interact with its underlying database using the wpdb class. Understanding wpdb is crucial for performing advanced database operations within WordPress plugins or themes. In this technical blog, we will delve into the various methods and hooks provided by wpdb, along with practical examples to demonstrate their usage.

Introduction to WPDB

The wpdb class in WordPress is a database access abstraction layer that provides a set of methods to interact with the WordPress database. It offers a secure and reliable way to execute SQL queries without directly manipulating the database.

Connecting to the Database

Before using wpdb, you need to establish a connection to the WordPress database. This is typically done by accessing the global $wpdb object, which is an instance of the wpdb class.

global $wpdb;

Basic Methods

1. get_results()

The get_results() method retrieves an array of rows from the database based on a SQL query.

$results = $wpdb->get_results( "SELECT * FROM {$wpdb->posts} WHERE post_type = 'post'" );

2. get_var()

The get_var() method fetches a single value from the database.

$count = $wpdb->get_var( "SELECT COUNT(*) FROM {$wpdb->users}" );

3. query()

The query() method executes a custom SQL query.

$wpdb->query( "DELETE FROM {$wpdb->options} WHERE option_name = 'transient_name'" );

4. prepare()

The prepare() method is used to prepare SQL queries with placeholders for data sanitization.

$name = 'John';
$age = 30;
$query = $wpdb->prepare( "SELECT * FROM {$wpdb->users} WHERE user_login = %s AND user_age > %d", $name, $age );
$results = $wpdb->get_results( $query );

Transaction Support

WordPress wpdb also supports transactions for executing multiple queries as a single unit of work.

$wpdb->query( 'START TRANSACTION' );
// Perform multiple queries
$wpdb->query( 'COMMIT' );
// or $wpdb->query( 'ROLLBACK' ); in case of failure


WordPress provides hooks that allow developers to modify wpdb behavior or add custom functionality at different stages of database operations.

1. query

The query hook allows you to modify or log SQL queries before execution.

add_filter( 'query', function( $query ) {
    error_log( $query );
    return $query;

2. query_result

The query_result hook enables you to modify query results before returning them.

add_filter( 'query_result', function( $result, $query ) {
    // Modify $result based on $query
    return $result;
}, 10, 2 );

3. query_cache

The query_cache hook allows you to manipulate the cache behavior of wpdb queries.

add_filter( 'query_cache', function( $cache, $query ) {
    // Manipulate $cache based on $query
    return $cache;
}, 10, 2 );


Let's put everything together with a practical example of using wpdb in a WordPress plugin.

// Define a custom table name
$table_name = $wpdb->prefix . 'custom_table';

// Create a custom table if it doesn't exist
if ( $wpdb->get_var( "SHOW TABLES LIKE '$table_name'" ) != $table_name ) {
    $sql = "CREATE TABLE $table_name (
        id mediumint(9) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
        name varchar(50) NOT NULL,
        email varchar(100) NOT NULL,
        PRIMARY KEY  (id)
    require_once( ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/upgrade.php' );
    dbDelta( $sql );

// Insert data into the custom table
        'name' => 'John Doe',
        'email' => 'john.doe@example.com'

// Retrieve data from the custom table
$results = $wpdb->get_results( "SELECT * FROM $table_name" );

// Display the results
foreach ( $results as $result ) {
    echo "Name: {$result->name}, Email: {$result->email}<br>";

In this example, we create a custom table, insert data into it, retrieve the data, and then display it using wpdb.


The wpdb class in WordPress is a versatile tool for interacting with the database, offering a wide range of methods and hooks for performing database operations securely. By understanding wpdb and its capabilities, developers can create robust plugins and themes that leverage the power of WordPress databases effectively.

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