Normally, a MySQL database can be exported and imported using these simple SSH commands:


mysqldump -u USERNAME -p DATABASE_NAME > filename.sql


mysql -u USERNAME -p DATABASE_NAME < filename.sql

But it's not that simple when it comes to WordPress. From what I see, additional parameters need to mentioned, such as --add-drop-table for instance.

The WordPress Codex does provide some info, but it looks cluttered and not clear enough.

It would be great if someone who uses command-line can share the proper commands to export and import a WordPress database, with some explanation (of any new parameters used).

Also, are there any reasons why it wouldn't be advisable to use command-line when dealing with database, and instead go with a GUI like phpMyAdmin?

3 Answers 3


It is that simple for Wordpress too. I use the following to back up my WP sites:

mysqldump -u USER -pPASSWORD --quick --extended-insert DBNAME > backup.sql

The mysqldump document gives the details on all the parameters.

--extended-insert is quicker when updating a DB from a dump file and makes the dump file smaller.

--quick makes the creation of the dump quicker.

You don't really need to use either of those, just makes things a bit quicker and writing an insert for each row just makes me feel happier - your original dump syntax would be just fine.

Don't forget though that there is domain-specific entries in the DB so if you are using this method to backup/restore then you are fine but if you want to move from one.com to two.com then you will need to edit entries in wp_options after you restore your dump.

  • 1
    But how about --add-drop-table and stuff like that mentioned on the codex page? codex.wordpress.org/… - are you sure they aren't necessary?
    – its_me
    Dec 6, 2012 at 11:56
  • 2
    It's not needed, with the options I use the dump files all have this before the create table and subsequent inserts: DROP TABLE IF EXISTS <wp_tablename>; so the tables are always dropped and then created, then data inserted into them Dec 6, 2012 at 21:18
  • 1
    Concurring with Steve, your original commands of mysqldump -u USERNAME -p PASSWORD DATABASE_NAME > filename.sql and mysql -u USERNAME -p PASSWORD DATABASE_NAME < filename.sql would work just fine. The only thing to be really wary of is running string replaces in between export and import if moving between domains.
    – neil_pie
    Dec 10, 2012 at 9:23
  • 1
    As an update regarding the options: this is from the mysqldump documentation: Some mysqldump options are shorthand for groups of other options: Use of --opt is the same as specifying --add-drop-table, --add-locks, --create-options, --disable-keys, --extended-insert, --lock-tables, --quick, and --set-charset. All of the options that --opt stands for also are on by default because --opt is on by default.
    – neil_pie
    Dec 10, 2012 at 9:30
  • also useful for migration is adding --compatible=mysql40
    – MAQ
    Jan 17, 2018 at 19:16

Having invested the time to learn the basics of the command line, I am using phpMyAdmin less and less now. However, I do find it easier when I need to browse or edit an entry (such as editing the wp_options entries, as Steve mentions above). I also used to go to the GUI when I wanted to exclude a particularly large table (such a plugin's logs) which didn't need backed up. But I've discovered you can just add

--ignore-table=my_db_name.my_table_name my_db_name

For copying a site to a new location.

use --add-drop-table during export, if you're importing to an empty database. omit --add-drop-table during export, if you're importing to merge the database.

Remember to update wp_options after import each time, since path is different. Also, update the .htaccess file with new path.

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