I'm creating custom files in a plugin and adding them to the Media Library using the code provided in the Wordpress Codex for wp_insert_attachment. However, my plugin occasionally overwrites those files. I need to make sure that the files are not added again to the Media Library. Here is the current code:

$wp_filetype = wp_check_filetype(basename($filename), null );
$wp_upload_dir = wp_upload_dir();
$attachment = array(
   'guid' => $wp_upload_dir['baseurl'] . '/' . _wp_relative_upload_path( $filename ), 
   'post_mime_type' => $wp_filetype['type'],
   'post_title' => preg_replace('/\.[^.]+$/', '', basename($filename)),
   'post_content' => '',
   'post_status' => 'inherit'
$attach_id = wp_insert_attachment( $attachment, $filename);
// you must first include the image.php file
// for the function wp_generate_attachment_metadata() to work
require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/image.php');
$attach_data = wp_generate_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $filename );
wp_update_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $attach_data );

I just need to check whether or not the file is already a part of the Media Library, and update it if it is. I do not have a post_id to work with, just the permalink and the guid.

Thanks for your help.

6 Answers 6

global $wpdb;
$image_src = wp_upload_dir()['baseurl'] . '/' . _wp_relative_upload_path( $filename );
$query = "SELECT COUNT(*) FROM {$wpdb->posts} WHERE guid='$image_src'";
$count = intval($wpdb->get_var($query));

You can use this at the top of your code. Then check the value of $count. If it's 0, then you can continue adding the attachment


I have this method (thanks Mridul):

function MediaFileAlreadyExists($filename){
    global $wpdb;
    $query = "SELECT COUNT(*) FROM {$wpdb->postmeta} WHERE meta_value LIKE '%/$filename'";
    return ($wpdb->get_var($query)  > 0) ;

// MediaFileAlreadyExists("my-image.png");

I know this is a old question but I didn't like any of these answers so here is my solution.

This will check if the file exists. If so it will update the existing attachment; if not, it will create a new attachment.

// Get upload dir
$upload_dir    = wp_upload_dir();
$upload_folder = $upload_dir['path'];

// Set filename, incl path
$filename = "{$upload_folder}/myfile-{$id}.pdf";

// Check the type of file. We'll use this as the 'post_mime_type'.
$filetype = wp_check_filetype( basename( $filename ), null );

// Get file title
$title = preg_replace( '/\.[^.]+$/', '', basename( $filename ) );

// Prepare an array of post data for the attachment.
$attachment_data = array(
    'guid'           => $upload_dir['url'] . '/' . basename( $filename ),
    'post_mime_type' => $filetype['type'],
    'post_title'     => $title,
    'post_content'   => '',
    'post_status'    => 'inherit'

// Does the attachment already exist ?
if( post_exists( $title ) ){
  $attachment = get_page_by_title( $title, OBJECT, 'attachment');
  if( !empty( $attachment ) ){
    $attachment_data['ID'] = $attachment->ID;

// If no parent id is set, reset to default(0)
if( empty( $parent_id ) ){
  $parent_id = 0;

// Insert the attachment.
$attach_id = wp_insert_attachment( $attachment_data, $filename, $parent_id );

// Generate the metadata for the attachment, and update the database record.
$attach_data = wp_generate_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $filename );
wp_update_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $attach_data );

In the example above I'm using a .pdf in my $filename but you can replace this with any filename/filetype.


You can check if image exist with post_exists($filename) . If image exist you can update it also you can create it

 //if image exist update else create it
        if (post_exists($filename)){
                $page = get_page_by_title($filename, OBJECT, 'attachment');
                $attach_id = $page->ID;

                $attach_data = wp_generate_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $destination ); // Generate attachment data, filesize, height, width etc.

                wp_update_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $attach_data ); // Add the above meta data

                add_post_meta($attach_id, '_wp_attachment_image_alt', $filealt); // Add the alt text 

                $attach_id = wp_insert_attachment( $attachment, $destination, $post_id ); 

                $attach_data = wp_generate_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $destination ); 

                wp_update_attachment_metadata( $attach_id, $attach_data ); 

                add_post_meta($attach_id, '_wp_attachment_image_alt', $filealt); 

I haven't tried it out yet. But it should be as simple as that:

post_exists( $filename, '', '', 'attachment' );

Returns int Post ID if post exists, 0 otherwise.


this function takes as parameter the media file name, and returns the meta_id if it exisists, otherwise it returns (false).

function MediaFileAlreadyExists($filename){
    global $wpdb;
    $query = "SELECT meta_id FROM {$wpdb->postmeta} WHERE meta_value LIKE '%/$filename'";

    if ( $wpdb->get_var($query) ){
        return $wpdb->get_var($query);

    return false;
  • I like the use of the LIKE. When WordPress uploads a dupe, it appends a -x to the filename. Some plugins prepend a unique key to prevent dupes (Media Cloud). post_exists($filename) will miss this. Will modify yours to handle both prefix and suffix of $basename. Thanks. Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 12:05

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