WordPress is an open-source content management system based on PHP. Its main use is to publish websites and blogs on the internet.
WordPress centers around a database that contains all the content for the site or blog. After running a WordPress site for some time the database starts to expand in size.
A lot of obsolete information gets left behind in it. So at regular intervals, it may be necessary to reset the database to its initial state.
This article will describe how to carry out a WordPress database reset. It is easier than it may sound.
What is a WordPress Database?
In its broadest sense, a database is a structured set of data. When applied to the IT field, a database management system (DBMS) is a piece of software that interacts with a user.
It stores and retrieves data as commanded. It is the website version of the pictures or videos saved on a personal computer.
Or, in an analogous way, an old-fashioned business card binder.
It can also be thought of as a large bookcase with books. The books are the tables.
Each book, or table, contains specified information, like settings or comments. Each entry in the book is a specific value, such as a username or an email.
A WordPress website runs with a database behind it. It is the very foundation of how it works.
Without it, the website would not work. It enables the site to run and load and it stores information like posts and comments.
It also records any changes that you or the visitors make.
More specifically, WordPress uses a database management system called MySQL. It uses a familiar arrangement in tables, rows, and columns to store the information.
The WordPress database is dynamic. So with the right administrative access privileges, users can add, delete, and modify the information.
MySQL is a very common open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Something that many users are not familiar with is the language that it uses.
It codes in the Structured Query Language (SQL), which is quite common for databases. It works best with other open-source programs, such as Apache web server, Linux, PHP, and WordPress.
Why Reset a WordPress Database?
Is it smart to reset a WordPress database? After all, it contains a lot of important information.
It contains login information, comments, pages, and posts. Plus there is information that no one ever sees but that is vital.
It makes the website work, so why reset it? But resetting a WordPress site is essential for any website owner.
From time to time a developer must test new features or designs. If it is a new website it may be ok to do that.
But it is not advisable to use an online website for that. It would interfere with the usual flow of traffic.
To test any large changes, many web developers use a cloned website. This is so that the actual live website is not affected and to avoid downtime.
After testing, it is a good idea to reset the cloned website’s database. This leaves it new and fresh for the next website test.
Testing of plugins and themes on a clean WordPress site is time-consuming. Creating the local installation and manually installing everything is a tedious job too.
So why do it if there is an easier and faster method?
Over time, and with the use of various plugins and themes, a database grows bigger and bigger.
Some WordPress database reset plugins allow the user to specify the obsolete tables. This slims down the database to a healthy size.
The most important result is that the website will continue to function optimally.
To return a WordPress database to the original setting, resetting it is the right thing to do. However, if the database is very slow and has a lot of information stored in it, it is usually best to first do a cleanup.
After working on a test or staging site on a local server, the recommendation is to reset the site and start fresh. This removes all the WordPress data but leaves all files intact on the hosting server.
It is very important to mention that after resetting, all data will be gone forever. This is something that cannot be undone.
It would be prudent to make a complete WordPress backup before resetting anything. As another option, make a backup of only the database.
How to Reset a WordPress Database
One of the most straightforward ways to do a WordPress database reset is by using a plugin. This article explains the use of the free WP Database Reset plugin.
The WP Database Reset plugin resets the database to its default settings. It also allows the user to reset only specified tables.
It obviates the five-minute installation of WordPress or the modification of any file.
WP Database Reset does not delete and reinstall the WordPress installation. It only deletes the data from the database.
The plugin gives the user control over certain reset settings. It allows the user to delete specific database tables, which is useful for cleaning up an oversized database.
This tool cleans blog posts, store products, and user and portfolio items. It also removes anything else that was later added to the WordPress installation.
This would include media and comments. It does not remove plugins and themes, but it will deactivate them.
What is the procedure? First of all, install and activate the WordPress Database Reset plugin.
After activation, go to the Database Reset page, located under Tools. Here, select the obsolete tables, or click Select All Tables to reset all tables.
After selecting the tables to be reset, it is possible to reactivate the current WordPress theme and active plugins. Also, WP Database Reset preserves the active WordPress user account.
As the final step, confirm the reset. This requires entering a security code in the text box and clicking Reset Tables.
A popup screen will appear confirming that the resetting procedure is about to start. Click OK to continue.
With the WordPress database reset complete, a success message will show on the plugin’s Settings page.
After a few seconds, the plugin will close the WordPress administrator area. After that, log in with the usual username and password and you can continue working.
Please note that the plugin does not create backups.
This plugin is an excellent tool when working in test environments. Under those circumstances, starting over is a constant need.
At this moment WP Database Reset does not support multisite installations. It works well on single installations and expedites the testing and retesting process.
Ending thoughts on WordPress database reset
WordPress and Databases are an inseparable duo. They work together to make a website work.
The database works behind the scenes to ensure that all data is correctly managed.
Everyone who manages a WordPress site will have to perform a database reset at some point. This is because, at times, a database gets too big to function well.
For developers too, this is a necessary skill when testing out new ideas and designs.
If you enjoyed reading this article on doing a WordPress database reset, you should read this one on how to scan the WordPress database for malware.
We also wrote about a few related subjects like the WordPress database schema, WordPress database plugins, doing a WordPress database cleanup, or how to find and replace an URL in a WordPress database.