I'm working on a plugin. I've created an API that reads and writes to a custom table in the DB. This API can be called potentially from N clients simultaneously (and it really happens). I noticed that in this case problems arise. To give a specific example:

if (is_null($wpdb->get_var("SELECT column FROM my_table_name WHERE condition"))) {
    // branch 1
else {
    // branch 2

In the branch 1 I innocently assume that the variable obtained from the DB is NULL, but maybe this is no longer true because it has been changed by another thread. I need the guarantee that, at least until the end of branch 1, this condition has not changed.

What's the WordPress-way to solve this problem? Semaphores, file locking, MySQL LOCK TABLE? Or there are better solutions? I searched for a long time on the web, but I wasn't able to find anything definitive. How does WordPress itself do (or the main plugins) in a case like this?

  • 1
    It doesn't. :( I remember hearing some chatter about this, but essentially this is untypical and underdeveloped issue in WP.
    – Rarst
    Mar 11, 2015 at 20:34
  • So there are no solutions? But the WordPress core has to somehow support multithreading, otherwise how could manage concurrent requests?
    – User
    Mar 12, 2015 at 7:53
  • 1
    Have a look at stackoverflow.com/questions/4710869/…
    – KenB
    Mar 12, 2015 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


Is your plugin intended for use by others, or is it only going to be used on servers you control? If the latter, then there might be a few ways to achieve what you want. For instance, the Sync extension. With that, I think you could use a mutex or semaphore to set a flag, which you could then use in your read/write functions.

If you already have memcache available, then that might be a lightweight way to do the same thing, without needing to install a new extension.

Failing that, you might be able to use a db table lock, but that seems really heavy-handed, and I'd worry about the impact on database performance.

  • Thanks for your answer! The plugin is meant for distribution so it is not installed on my own servers. Then the only solution is the -awkward- MySQL TABLE LOCK? I'm shocked!
    – User
    Mar 12, 2015 at 7:57
  • Well, you could set a flag in the options table, probably using a Transient. codex.wordpress.org/Transients_API Mar 13, 2015 at 18:24
  • I'm not sure I understand. Could you explain what you mean?
    – User
    Mar 15, 2015 at 12:50

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