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How to Change the WordPress Database Prefix to Improve Security

WordPress Database is like a brain for your entire WordPress site because every single information is stored in there thus making it hacker’s favorite target. Spammers and hackers run automated codes for SQL injections. Well, unfortunately many people forget to change the database prefix while they install WordPress. This makes it easier for hackers to plan a mass attack by targeting the default prefix wp_. The smartest way you can protect your database is by changing the database prefix which is really easy to do on a site that you are setting up. But it takes a few steps to change the WordPress database prefix properly for your established site without completely messing it up.

Video Tutorial

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If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Preparation

We recommend that you backup your WordPress Database before you perform anything suggested in this tutorial. It is important to keep daily backups of your site, we recommend BackupBuddy plugin for doing that. Next thing we recommend is that you redirect your visitors to a temporary maintenance page.

Change Table Prefix in wp-config.php

Open your wp-config.php file which is located in your WordPress root directory. Change the table prefix line from wp_ to something else like this wp_a123456_

So the line would look like this:

$table_prefix  = 'wp_a123456_';

Note: You can only change it to numbers, letters, and underscores.

Change all Database Tables Name

You need to access your database (most likely through phpMyAdmin), and then change the table names to the one we specified in wp-config.php file. If you are using the cPanel WordPress hosting, then you can find the phpMyAdmin link in your cPanel. Look at the image below:

phpMyAdmin

There are a total of 11 default WordPress tables, so changing them manually would be pain.

SQL Query

That’s why to make things faster, we have a SQL query that you can use.

RENAME table `wp_commentmeta` TO `wp_a123456_commentmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_comments` TO `wp_a123456_comments`;
RENAME table `wp_links` TO `wp_a123456_links`;
RENAME table `wp_options` TO `wp_a123456_options`;
RENAME table `wp_postmeta` TO `wp_a123456_postmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_posts` TO `wp_a123456_posts`;
RENAME table `wp_terms` TO `wp_a123456_terms`;
RENAME table `wp_termmeta` TO `wp_a123456_termmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_term_relationships` TO `wp_a123456_term_relationships`;
RENAME table `wp_term_taxonomy` TO `wp_a123456_term_taxonomy`;
RENAME table `wp_usermeta` TO `wp_a123456_usermeta`;
RENAME table `wp_users` TO `wp_a123456_users`;

You may have to add lines for other plugins that may add their own tables in the WordPress database. The idea is that you change all tables prefix to the one that you want.

The Options Table

We need to search the options table for any other fields that is using wp_ as a prefix, so we can replace them. To ease up the process, use this query:

SELECT * FROM `wp_a123456_options` WHERE `option_name` LIKE '%wp_%'

This will return a lot of results, and you need to go one by one to change these lines.

UserMeta Table

Next, we need to search the usermeta for all fields that is using wp_ as a prefix, so we can replace it. Use this SQL query for that:

SELECT * FROM `wp_a123456_usermeta` WHERE `meta_key` LIKE '%wp_%'

Number of entries may vary on how many plugins you are using and such. Just change everything that has wp_ to the new prefix.

Backup and Done

You are now ready to test the site. If you followed the above steps, then everything should be working fine. Now, you should make a new backup of your database just to be on the safe side.

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Reader Interactions

132 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. A plugin developer told me that you cannot have a WordPress blog without a database prefix. This is very confusing because I have had an active WordPress blog for 5 years – and it has no database prefix. So, can you have a WordPress site without a database prefix?

    • WordPress has a database prefix by default without you needing to make any changes, this is a way to customize the prefix.

      Admin

  2. Hi there, I was following another tutorial to look at the database files and noticed mine have names like “wphy_users” … is this possibly an extension of the thing described here, just without the _ before?

    Look forward to your reply!

    • Correct, from the sound of it your database was created with a different prefix :)

      Admin

  3. Hi, I changed my table prefix names ia while a go. I found out there where some new maps added with the old name + the main folder (database I think) also has the old name. Now I also found out my folders already HAD a different name than the standard “wp” prefix name, so the change wasn’t even needed in the first place. The only thing now is that half of the tables has 1 certain name and the other ones have another name. Because everything works fine now I don’t want to change things again, but my only question now is: is it a problem that the tables have different names? Do they all need to be named the same, or does it not matter?

    • The extra tables may have been created by a plugin, we would recommend your site using the same prefix for all of your content.

      Admin

  4. I am multi domain hosting. at the time of installation of WP what have to put in table prefix (as wp_ written by default.)??

    Please suggest me as early as possible…

    • You would choose what you want the prefix to be if you’re changing your site’s database prefix

      Admin

  5. After changing database prefix i am getting “Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page” this error when i visit WordPress admin dashboard.

  6. Hi, I’m using wordpess multisite. I want to use home site’s database prefix and folder for media attachment for all of subsite including home site. Any idea?

    • You could upload your images to the home site’s media library and embed the images on your subsites to do something like that.

      Admin

      • I know about that, but featured images not support for that, so I want to use home site’s media database prefix for all site.

        • Sadly, at the moment we don’t have a recommended method for that.

  7. I tried it and then I couldn’t login. Probably because I have a security plugin.

    If I disable and delete all my plugins and just leave my installation with the core WP, and then I make the change, would that probably eliminate the need to change anything in usermeta or the options tables? i.e. Would that probably be the safest way to make the table change and not break anything.

    Then, I’ll just re-install my plugins.

  8. According to this article, Changing the WordPress table prefix does absolutely nothing to enhance the site security.
    Even if we have changed the table prefix, a hacker can find the table prefix by running this code:
    SELECT DISTINCT SUBSTRING(`TABLE_NAME` FROM 1 FOR ( LENGTH(`TABLE_NAME`)-8 ) )
    2
    FROM information_schema.TABLES WHERE
    3
    `TABLE_NAME` LIKE ‘%postmeta’;

    • Hi Mishel,

      We don’t agree with that. Every security step that obscures something can be uncovered by a experienced hacker. These steps just add a difficulty layer to make your overall security harder to crack. Changing table prefix certainly has no downside to it and if it can block some automated and obvious hacking attempts, then its totally worth it.

      Admin

  9. The queries in both wp_options and wp_usermeta return datas that is contained wp should I rename them too?
    ex: wpseo_title, _yoast_wpseo_

  10. I made really silly mistake, in my wp-config file i assign the variable $table-prefix without the underscore at the end. Something like “wp_12345”, it should be “wp_12345_”.

  11. this broke my files, none of my files are accessible on the local or live sites, thankfully this is all learning and a test site, but what went wrong?

  12. Works fine, thank you very much! Except: I get the following warning in the backend after changing prefix. Tried it two times:

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /myurl/wp-config.php:1) in /myurl/wp-includes/option.php on line 837

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /myurl/wp-config.php:1) in /myurl/wp-includes/option.php on line 838

    Can you help me?

  13. Hi, thank you for your article. I have a question about that. If you have some plugins which are installed in your wordpress, is this method that you mentioned above the same? or maybe we need to other things to complete this step?
    I appreciate if you guide me about that because I have more than 20 install plugin in my wordpress sit.
    Thank you for your help

  14. Won’t I have issues when updating plugins etc in the future?

    I tried to use iThemes Security built in advanced features for this, but got the error: An “invalid format” error prevented the request from completing as expected. The format of data returned could not be recognized. This could be due to a plugin/theme conflict or a server configuration issue.

    So I am not sure if I dare to do this manually either…

  15. Hello Team

    thanks for sharing this.

    All steps went well except for the last one: UserMeta Table.

    MySql doesn’t let me change the prefix for it.

    That’s the error message I get:

    #1054 – Unknown column ‘wp_new_usermeta.umeta_id’ in ‘where clause’

    Please, any advise?

    Many thanks,

    Joe

    • There’s an option it asked to enter db prefix while installation. so you can give prefix whatever you wish to!!

  16. Is it necessary to still include the”wp_” as part of the new prefix I want to create? Can I just use any alpha numeric string to reduce the chance of any type of hack?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  17. Nice article. I think the query on the Options and UserMeta table will throw off less savvy individuals. Not sure how but it would help if you could provide more detail on those steps.

    I followed the guide and have successfully changed my DB table prefix!

  18. This does not add really any kind of security.
    If I can inject SQL, I can query against information_schema.tables and get info about tables, whatever fancy prefix you put in front of names ;)

    • very true. a good htaaccess will block sql injections too. on top of that, my wordpress install only gives full database access to very select users by assigning those credentials based on certain things gathered long before a db connection. everybody else gets the very very basic access.

      i also stopped most hacking attempts cold by hiding the wpzlogin.php and further password protecting access to wp admin in cpanel. it takes a login just to get to the wp login page.

  19. Hi , Nice article ! Thought of simplifying replacing table prefix.

    In Phpmyadmin once u select the database, you can see the list of tables.
    1. Enable the checkbox check all

    2. select Replace table prefix in the dropdown ‘with selected’

    3. Enter the existing prefix in from option: ‘wp_’ as mentioned in the article.

    4. Enter the new prefix in to option: ‘wp_a123456_’ as mentioned in the article.

    5. Click submit

    This helps to change table prefix for all tables including that of the plugin.

    You can check these articles if you need support on dehack your site

    • So…. @SHIVI

      All I need to do, to change the table.prefix is go into my config.file change the prefix and then proceed to your steps 1-5 and the table.prefix will be changed everywhere (plugins etc..)
      And that’s it?

  20. Should i run Sql for every table? i mean i have 15 table. or only change two tables you described will fix the problem.

  21. Hi guys,

    Thanks for these instructions. They helped me resolve my uppercase issues.

    As a beginner, some guidance as to the how to change the table names manually would have been appreciated. I would have felt more comfortable doing it that way.

    Also, for a beginner like me, some instruction on how to make the changes in the Options and Usermeta tables would been helpful.

    Thanks again. Could not have done it without you!

  22. Thanks for the instruction. I needed to remove an UPPER case letter from a prefix and this showed that exact records I needed to touch!

    TIP: with phpMyAdmin you can check all records at the bottom and select ‘replace table prefix’ this will bring up a standard replace box with ‘from’ and ‘to’ values.
    It will also save a lot of typing in step one – especially if it’s a large database.

  23. Hi guys,

    when I made these changes it don’t give me to sign in as current user but it tells me to install wordpress again…

    Igor

  24. My SQl DB have no table prefix so got error sometimes on wordpress Wpconfig.php without $table_prefix = ”;.
    how to add table prefix,
    when i try to add in config file and rename all table with same prefix
    and login in to wp got error “you don’t have permission to access”

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