Handling BLOB in PHP and MySQL

By: Andi, Stig and Derick Emailed: 1590 times Printed: 2041 times    

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BLOB stands for Binary Large OBject and refers to binary data, such as JPEG images stored in the database.

Inserting BLOB Data Previously, with the mysql PHP extension, BLOB data was inserted into the database directly as part of the query. You can still do this with mysqli, but when you insert several kilobytes or more, a more efficient method is to use the mysqli_stmt_send_long_data() function or the send_long_data() method of the stmt class.

Here is an example:


$conn = mysqli_connect("localhost", "test", "", "test");


"data BLOB)");

$stmt = $conn->prepare("INSERT INTO files VALUES(NULL, ?)");

$stmt->bind_param("s", $data);

$file = "test.jpg";

$fp = fopen($file, "r");

$size = 0;

while ($data = fread($fp, 1024)) {

$size += strlen($data);

$stmt->send_long_data(0, $data);


//$data = file_get_contents("test.jpg");

if ($stmt->execute()) {

print "$file ($size bytes) was added to the files table\n";

} else {



In this example, the test.jpg file is inserted into the file’s table by transferring 1,024 bytes at a time to the MySQL server with the send_long_data() method. This technique does not require PHP to buffer the entire BLOB in memory before sending it to MySQL.

Retrieving BLOB Data

Retrieving BLOB data is the same as retrieving regular data. Use any of the fetch function/method variants as you see fit. Here is an example:


$conn = mysqli_connect("localhost", "test", "", "test");

if (empty($_GET['id'])) {

$result = $conn->query("SELECT id, length(data) FROM files LIMIT 20");

if ($result->num_rows == 0) {

print "No images!\n";

print "<a href=\"mysqli_blob1.php\">Click here to add one<a>\n";



while ($row = $result->fetch_row()) {

print "<a href=\"$_SERVER[PHP_SELF]?id=$row[0]\">";

print "image $row[0] ($row[1] bytes)</a><br />\n";




$stmt = $conn->prepare("SELECT data FROM files WHERE id = ?");

$stmt->bind_param("i", $_GET['id']);


$data = null;


if (!$stmt->fetch()) {

die("No such image!");


header("Content-type: image/jpeg");

print $data;

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1. View Comment

Hi Andi, Stig and Derick!

Nice turorial! However, I think you are using a wrong argument in "$stmt->bind_param("s", $data);"

Using s (string), I cannot get this command working, however, by using "b" for blob (see PHP manual: http://php.net/manual/en/mysqli-stmt.bind-param.php ) the script is perfectly working.

My MySQL and PHP versions:

PHP 5.3.2
MySQL 5.1.45

View Tutorial          By: Lasse Christiansen at 2010-05-01 01:58:14
2. View Comment

I'm working on an intranet site/web application. We have a table for file storage (MySQL 4.1.22/InnoDB engine), with a field defined as LONGBLOB. MySQL specifies this type to be able to handle just over 4GB. While we will never be pushing this much data to a record, we do have a few instances of BLOBS up to 32MB, which is too much for the MEDIUMBLOB type.

However, I am using the mysql_query() method of inserting. This works well for data as long as 10MB, but the call hangs (no exceptions, timeouts, etc...just simply hangs as if in an infinite loop) for several hours. I have temporarily unlimited all PHP timeouts, as well as insured the max_allowed_packet on our MySQL instance is at 200MB (a little overkill, just to be sure). I even went so far as to set the net_write_timeout value to 120 seconds and the net_read_timeout to 240 seconds. Both the web and db servers are on our LAN (100Mb), so there is optimal communication between the 2 machines.

Are there any other settings I should be aware of to check? Also, is it possible that this is a limitation of the mysql_query() method, and that I need to switch up and use the mysqli interface?

I'm really at a loss here. My background comes from MS SQL, so I am still learning my way around MySQL.

Thanks in advance!

View Tutorial          By: Tony Gingrich at 2011-10-23 21:22:31
3. View Comment

great tutorial but for me blob handling is still sucks

View Tutorial          By: Sarcina Saptamani at 2011-11-10 09:15:07
4. View Comment

Good tutorial sir

View Tutorial          By: vinay at 2012-01-28 12:38:30
5. View Comment

I like this tutorial, it is self explaining. good work :)

View Tutorial          By: Nikia at 2013-01-25 20:04:30

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