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Character sets

Ideally a proper character set will be set at the server level, and doing this is described within the » Character Set Configuration section of the MySQL Server manual. Alternatively, each MySQL API offers a method to set the character set at runtime.

Caution

The character set and character escaping

The character set should be understood and defined, as it has an affect on every action, and includes security implications. For example, the escaping mechanism (e.g., mysqli_real_escape_string() for mysqli, mysql_real_escape_string() for mysql, and PDO::quote for PDO_MySQL) will adhere to this setting. It is important to realize that these functions will not use the character set that is defined with a query, so for example the following will not have an effect on them:

Example #1 Problems with setting the character set with SQL

<?php

$mysqli 
= new mysqli("localhost""my_user""my_password""world");

// Will not affect $mysqli->real_escape_string();
$mysqli->query("SET NAMES utf8");

// Will not affect $mysqli->real_escape_string();
$mysqli->query("SET CHARACTER SET utf8");

// But, this will affect $mysqli->real_escape_string();
$mysqli->set_charset('utf8');

?>

Below are examples that demonstrate how to properly alter the character set at runtime using each each API.

Example #2 Setting the character set example: mysqli

<?php

$mysqli 
= new mysqli("localhost""my_user""my_password""world");

if (!
$mysqli->set_charset('utf8')) {
    
printf("Error loading character set utf8: %s\n"$mysqli->error);
} else {
    
printf("Current character set: %s\n"$mysqli->character_set_name());
}

print_r$mysqli->get_charset() );

?>

Example #3 Setting the character set example: pdo_mysql

Note: This only works as of PHP 5.3.6.

<?php
$pdo 
= new PDO("mysql:host=localhost;dbname=world;charset=utf8"'my_user''my_pass');
?>

Example #4 Setting the character set example: mysql

<?php

$conn 
mysql_connect("localhost""my_user""my_pass");
$db   mysql_select_db("world");

if (!
mysql_set_charset('utf8'$conn)) {
    echo 
"Error: Unable to set the character set.\n";
    exit;
}

echo 
'Your current character set is: ' .  mysql_client_encoding($conn);

?>

PHP Manual