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How to Connect PHP to MySQL Database: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting Point: The Basics of PHP to MySQL Connection

An Overview of MySQL

Let’s start with the basics. MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (DBMS) recognized for its efficiency and flexibility, marking its place as one of the most preferred DBMS worldwide. It integrates seamlessly with PHP via the server name, typically “localhost”, aiding in the construction of dynamic websites. MySQL is fantastic for storing, managing, and retrieving data. It provides straightforward procedures to create a MySQL table, implement a MySQL function, and follow practical MySQL examples. Notably, the connection details, including the server name and the database name, are crucial to creating a successful website interface.

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source: medium

Why Use MySQL with PHP?

Why pair MySQL with PHP? Well, when combined with PHP, MySQL provides a comprehensive, organized approach to data storage and retrieval. This pair forms a crucial block in the foundation of data-driven web applications, which involves a PHP function to interact with the database system. PHP, as a scripting language, is crucial in web development for dynamic web applications. Plus, MySQL stands as a popular option for many PHP developers due to its compatibility with a range of database management systems (DBMS). So, this duo is key to crafting robust, scalable web applications.

Connecting to MySQL: The Two Popular Approaches

Connect to PHP-MySQL with MySQL Improved Extension

Consider the MySQL Improved (MySQLi) extension, a PHP extension, to connect to a MySQL database. It supports numerous database functions and is a crucial step in achieving smooth interactivity with MySQL databases. For instance, within the PHP page, line no 5 should be coded as “$con = mysqli_connect(‘localhost’, ‘root’, ”,’db_connect’);” to ensure proper connection. After installation, such as with systems like WAMP or XAMPP, you’ll need to verify if your localhost is functioning appropriately. Also, it’s worth noting that server configuration, extended to the XAMPP installation folder and its htdocs subfolder (usually located at C:\xampp), ensures optimal database function. With these settings in place, your PHP page will execute seamlessly, and you can proceed to commence coding. Additional examples and insights regarding server configurations and database functions can be found in comprehensive database tutorials.

Connect to MySQL with PDO (PHP Data Objects)

  1. PDO (PHP Data Objects):
    • A versatile solution for database access, supporting various databases beyond MySQL.
    • Initiating PDO involves creating a new PDO object, requiring parameters like server name, database name, username, and password.
    • Enhanced security: PDO facilitates stringent access privileges, reducing vulnerability to unauthorized access.
    • Protective measures: PDO incorporates features like prepared statements to mitigate the risk of SQL injection attacks.
  2. Connection Details:
    • When creating a PDO object, provide server name, database name, username, and password as parameters.
    • Secure database access: The specified details enhance the security of the database connection.
  3. Error Handling:
    • Utilize the getMessage() method for error elucidation in case of connection hiccups.
    • Crystal clear error messages: This method helps provide detailed information about any issues encountered during the connection process.
  4. Database Name Verification:
    • Double-check the entered database name to prevent common issues.
    • Preventing ‘Unknown database’ issues: Ensure the entered database name corresponds to an existing one, avoiding problems caused by the PDOException.
  5. Troubleshooting:
    • Addressing the ‘Unknown database’ issue: Be cautious with database names, as discrepancies can lead to the PDOException.
    • Syntax error prevention: Ensure that the specified database name, such as ‘db_contact’ in the development directory, is recognized to avoid syntax errors.
  6. Hint for Development:
    • Reminder for developers: The database name, like ‘db_contact,’ might not be recognized, potentially causing syntax errors.
    • Syntax error prevention: Developers should be aware that certain database names may not be automatically recognized, leading to frustrating syntax errors.

Overall, adopting PDO for database operations not only broadens database compatibility but also enhances security through access control and protective measures like prepared statements. Thorough error handling and careful database name verification are crucial for a seamless connection experience.

Diving Deeper: Detailed Steps to Connect PHP to MySQL

Preparation: Gathering Credentials and Establishing Database

  • Database Preparation:
    • Set up credentials in the database, including the hostname (commonly ‘localhost’), database name (e.g., “mydb”), and user credentials.
    • Double-check the accuracy of these credentials, emphasizing the importance of verifying the hostname for the connection.
  • Working Folder Creation:
    • Create a working folder in your Xampp directory, typically within the htdocs folder (e.g., E:\xampp\htdocs).
    • This folder will serve as the location for your web development files.
  • Database Existence Check:
    • Ensure that the intended database exists in a robust Database Management System (DBMS).
  • Connection Establishment:
    • Create a web page within the working folder, naming it something like “contact.php.”
    • This page will serve as the entry point for establishing the database connection.
  • Troubleshooting:
    • If encountering issues with the localhost link or a configuration file (e.g., @config), troubleshoot accordingly.
    • For persistent issues, consider reaching out to your hosting provider for assistance.

By following these steps, you can effectively prepare for the establishment of a database connection. Verifying credentials, creating a designated working folder, ensuring the existence of the database in the DBMS, and troubleshooting any issues that arise contribute to a smooth setup process.

Creating a Database Connection File in PHP

Get ready for action! Create a new PHP file, “db_connection.php,” your go-to server configuration tool. Open it in your web browser, like Chrome or Firefox, and use it across PHP scripts for database connections and charset settings. This step is crucial for preventing future issues. Make sure to enable necessary PHP extensions like PDO for advanced data modeling and SQL editing. Access it all by typing “localhost/phpmyadmin” in your browser, solidifying the foundations for powerful PHP files.

Opening a DB-Connection to MySQL

Time to kick off the connection. We harness the power of either MySQLi or PDO method. Take note, if PHP code is displayed in your browser, it’s likely that you didn’t install PHP or any PHP environment like XAMPP or WAMP. Here’s how the MySQLi connection is done:


On successful connection, $con becomes more than just a line of code, it’s our browser into the world of the database.

Troubleshooting: Common Errors and Fixes

Unable to Connect to MySQL Server

What if you can’t connect? The error “Can’t connect to MySQL server” in MySQLi typically means the script isn’t communicating with your Apache server, and can often be attributed to an unrecognized $servername, or the incorrect server configuration, including misconfigured local socket. It could also be a result of faulty database hostname information. There’s no need to panic, most issues are solvable by tracing back your steps and verifying your server configurations. Always double-check the database connection credentials, including the hostname, username, password, and database name. For instance, you could use an echo function to verify the database hostname.

Incorrect Password Error

Seeing “Access denied (using password: YES)”? This may be due to mismatched passwords, or incorrect database details, between your PHP code and your database. Failing to correctly login, especially with your database username, can result in this error. Ensure they’re identical and that you’re connecting to the appropriate database, maybe ‘mydb’, to avoid a failed connection. It’s as simple as remembering your login details and accurately following your database credentials. With that, you’re good to go.

Checking Connectivity and Troubleshooting Common Errors

Connectivity or common errors disrupting your flow? Stay vigilant. Regularly check server configuration and test connectivity using an optimized SQL server database script containing mysqli_connect_error(). This script can help in identifying any failure and using the getMessage() method in the catch block, it will display the resultant error message. This way you can get an output for your records. Also, seek logs for insights into errors. Make sure that Apache is running properly. There’s a solution for most problems: it just takes a little investigation and a proper use of echo to view the output.

Taking Care of Your PHP to MySQL Connection

  • Closing Connections:
    • For MySQLi: Use mysqli_close($conn) to close the connection.
    • For PDO: Set $pdo to null to release engaged privileges.
    • Utilize PHP’s rich database functions for an efficient close.
    • Crucial for freeing up resources in database management.
  • Handling Connection Errors:
    • Wrap connection code in a try-catch block for effective error handling.
    • Acts as a safety net for exceptions during the connection process.
  • Setting Connection Attributes:
    • Use the setAttribute() method to configure additional options for error handling and connection attributes.
    • Fine-tune error handling to customize based on specific requirements.
  • Managing XAMPP Account Password:
    • Navigate to the Change Admin Password section after clicking on the Edit Privileges button.
    • Exercise caution when making changes to privileges.
    • Ensure a secure and controlled process when exiting.
  • Comprehensive Approach:
    • Closing connections efficiently and handling errors contribute to robust database management.
    • Use a combination of methods for a foolproof web development journey.

Optimization Tips for Better Performance

Want faster performance? Start by focusing on optimizing your database queries. Ensure you’re only retrieving data essential to your web application’s functioning, thereby keeping resource utilization and response times low. Implement strong indexes and reuse connections rather than establishing new ones every time. Pay unique attention to your configuration settings, especially on your web server, to ensure your web application and email services run efficiently. Tips like these not only aid in smoother operations but are crucial for developing efficient, data-driven applications.

Time to Practice: Exercises

Creating a MySQL Database

Ready for a little practice? Let’s rattle things up! In PHPMyAdmin, click ‘New’ to create your own ‘dbname’, or database. Set collation, name it as per your needs (e.g., ‘practice’ could be your sql server database), hit ‘Create’, and voila! What you have next is an empty space, nothing but a community database waiting for db tables and data.

Writing a PHP Script to Connect to MySQL

Ready to tap into your new DB? Jump right into HTML coding and write a PHP script to connect to your MySQL database. For example:


$server = 'localhost';

$username = 'root';

$password = '';

$db = 'practice';

$pdo = new PDO("mysql:host=$server;dbname=$db", $username, $password);

In this database example, we’re using the PHP function, PDO (PHP Data Objects), to establish a connection. This is a crucial part of the PHP and MySQL configuration. After all, connecting to a database is the first and most important step when working with more advanced scripts and configurations. Now that your connection is set up, you can dive into PHP and MySQL tutorials for further guidance on querying data from or inserting into the database!

Wrapping it all up: Final Thoughts

To wrap up, connecting PHP to MySQL isn’t so scary. Grasp the basics, follow the steps, practice, and you’re golden. Keep this guide handy as a go-to. With time and practice, you’ll ace it. You’ve got this!


Should I use MySQLi or PDO?

Choose MySQLi if you’re sticking to MySQL; it’s tailored for it. For diverse databases, go PDO with a consistent DSN. Prioritize security, set passwords for sensitive info. Use PHP’s PDOException for error handling. Both are solid; pick based on your needs.

How do I check whether MySQL is running?

To check if MySQL is running on Windows, navigate to Start → Control Panel → Administrative Tools → Services. Confirm MySQL’s presence for operational status. In MySQL Workbench, check the Session tab under the Information pane for server configuration verification. Ensure enabled PHP extensions, vital for Apache or web application usage, guaranteeing hostname integrity and optimal database connectivity in dynamic web development.

What is my localhost MySQL username and password?

Need to know your localhost MySQL username and password? By default, the username is ‘root’. The password for XAMPP is typically blank unless you’ve set one. To secure your MySQL for local development, add a password through PHPMyAdmin.

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