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[Resolved] Understanding pages in the database

  • Several times I have realized I don’t really understand how pages work differently than posts wrt. the underlying database. Today this was driven home when I updated my database tables to not use wp_ as the default prefix. Everything went smoothly — except all of my pages lost their assigned templates. I poked about through the database a bit, but realized I don’t understand how pages are stored differently from posts well enough to fix things quickly. I wound up re-assigning each page’s template, but would like to understand why I had to do this as I suspect it will come up again in some context.

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  • They really aren’t any different wrt the database. They are both stored in the _posts table.
    Go to phpmyadmin and “browse” the _posts table
    under the heading “post_type”, you will see them distinguished by post or page
    you should also be able to see the assigned template for the page(s)

    Ok, after poking around in the database, here is what I learned.

    Pages’ templates are not stored in the _post table, they’re in the _postmeta table. When I changed my tables to have a prefix other than wp_ , all the pages I had assigned templates to lost them.

    I changed my tables by backing up, then using a text editor to search and replace the wp_ prefix to mine, let’s call it new, then dumping the old tables and importing the altered database. It turns out that the required metakey is _wp_page_template, and by my search and replace I turned it into an unrecognized key, as you can see in these before and after snapshots of the database :

    After the update, before I fix the page :

    Edit 	Delete 	153 	99 	_edit_last 	2
    Edit 	Delete 	152 	99 	_edit_lock 	1277486519
    Edit 	Delete 	154 	99 	_new_page_template 	testpage.php

    When I look in the WordPress interface for page 99, I see “default template” listed. Once I change it manually in the interface to the template it should be I get this :

    Edit 	Delete 	153 	99 	_edit_last 	3
    Edit 	Delete 	152 	99 	_edit_lock 	1277486663
    Edit 	Delete 	154 	99 	_new_page_template 	testpage.php
    Edit 	Delete 	238 	99 	_wp_page_template 	testpage.php

    So, the solution is to either exclude the contents of the _metapost table when searching and replacing, or to patch it up afterward.

    Now, however, I’m concerned that there might be other places in the database where I haven’t yet noticed something broken. I found lots of tutorials online stating that one should update the wp prefix either through search and replace, or manually, to secure a site.

    Can anyone provide a link to a more robust approach, and/or to a list of places we should NOT update the wp_ prefix in the database?


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