If you’ve ever built an application that interacts with a database and allows users to edit data, or one that migrates data from one system to another you’ve probably written code like this:

// $id would have been set based on some other operation above.
// I'm setting it here for clarity.
$id = 1;
$result = mysql_query("SELECT id FROM table_name WHERE id = $id");
if(mysql_num_rows() == 0){
    // Zero results, the record doesn't exist, add it.
    mysql_query("INSERT INTO table_name (id,a,b) VALUES ($id,2,3)");
} else{
    // The record exists, update it.
    mysql_query("UPDATE table_name SET a = 1, b = 2 WHERE id = $id");

Well, thanks to the ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE option in MySQL this can be condensed to the following:

$result = mysql_query("INSERT INTO table_name SET id = $id, a = 2, b = 3
                        ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE
                        a = 2, c = 3");


  • You don’t have to update every field on update. If you only need one row updated if the row already exists, specify only that row in the UPDATE portion of the query.
  • I prefer the above syntax (using set and writing field = value for each field) but as shown in the MySQL manual , it works with the (field1,field2,field3) VALUES (value1,value2,value3) version as well.
  • This method does not work perfectly in all situations! Be sure to test on your dev server before using in production!