After the Woocommerce dummy products are imported, I notice that in the database, there are different records in different tables but point to THE SAME photo attachment.

The question is why? What are the differences between those records? Is that a duplication/redundancy in data storing?

Let's take post_id=16 as below snapshot. We would see as below.

  1. In table wp_posts, the id=16 post has post_type=attachment and its guid points to T1_front_1.jpg image.

enter image description here

  1. In table wp_postmeta, the one with post_id=16 is also taking the meta_key as _wp_attachment_file and meta_value points to the same image T1_front_1.jpg.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


An attachment is a Post

The posts table contains information on the attachment post.

In WordPress every uploaded media has it's own post entry, where post_type is 'attachment' and post_status is 'inherit'.

In fact, you can get attachment post types using functions used to get other post types, like post, page or any CPT.

That includes WP_Query, get_posts() and get_post().

What's in posts table

For every attachment post

  • post_title column is used for attachment title
  • post_excerpt is used for attachment caption
  • post_content is used for attachment description

Note that attachment post type may have a post_parent that points to the ID of the post where the attachment was uploaded from.

For example:

get_posts( 'post_type=attachment&post_parent=10' );

Retrieve all the post objects for attachments loaded from the edit page of the post with ID 10;

An attachment is not only a Post

However, there is information for media (especially images) that simply doesn't fit the posts table.

All this information is stored in the postmeta table, where the post_id column refers to the attachment row in the posts table.

What's in postmeta table

For example, the "alt" attribute is stored in a meta field that has the key '_wp_attachment_image_alt'.

The meta field with key '_wp_attached_file' contains the relative path (to content folder) of the uploaded file.

That is used to build the attachment URL and path, in functions like wp_get_attachment_url(), wp_get_attachment_image_src(), get_attached_file() and so on.

Finally, the field '_wp_attachment_metadata' contains different information (in a serialized array in the database):

  • The image size (under keys 'width' and 'height')
  • Information about intermediate sizes

Intermediate sizes

In fact, every time an image is uploaded, WordPress creates different copies of the image in different sizes.

Please read this answer for more details.

The key "sizes" in the '_wp_attachment_metadata' field contain an array with information on all generated images: the file created, the size (width and height) and so on.

Note that the preferred way to get information from '_wp_attachment_metadata' is not using the common get_post_meta() but the specific wp_get_attachment_metadata(), as it triggers a filter.

If you are interested in the information about a specific generated image, the function image_get_intermediate_size() will be handy.

Use specific functions

Generally speaking, if you need information on an attachment, use the specific functions and avoid pulling data from the database; it is harder and does not triggers hooks, possibly breaking core, theme and plugins compatibility.

There are a lot of functions in WordPress to work with attachments, this should give you an idea...

However, main functions are all listed in this answer.

  • Thanks for your explaination in full. In brief may you tell the differences again please. I'm messed up.
    – Nam G VU
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 11:16
  • The 2 tables contain different information. Post table contains some info, postmeta table contains some other info. To know the full story about an attachment you need information from both tables.
    – gmazzap
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 18:10

First is showing the attachment file path, second is file attributes size, type, height, width etc.


attachment in wp_post shows the attachment basic details title, time, author etc.

wp_postmeta shows attachment all other details for example attachment would be text, pdf, image etc so it having different meta data for different types of posts.


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