How to Export a MySQL Table Programmatically in PHP

This example PHP code illustrates how to programmatically export data from a MySQL database table. This is useful in PHP web applications where you want to give users the ability to export data from your database for offline process. Some example is exporting your sales numbers for a data analyst or exporting your customer address list for a mail house. The exported file is structured as follows:

  • Data columns are delimited by a comma
  • Double-quote used as the text qualifier
  • .CSV file extension

The resulting file can be imported into Excel, another database, or other supporting application.

To use this code, simply copy and paste it into your PHP development environment and configure the variables indicated in the comment lines to your specific environment.

// BEGIN: Establish a connection to the database
// INSTRUCTION: Fill in the following four variables with your specific connection.

// Server hostname or IP address
$server_hostname = ""; 

// The name of your MySQL database instance
$database_name = "your-dbase-name-here"; 

// The username of your database login credential 
$username = "your-dbase-userid-here";

// The password of your database login credential
$password = "your-dbase-password-here"; 

$link_sqli = mysqli_connect($server_hostname, $username, $password, $database_name);

// If an error occurred while connecting to the database, display the error code and exit.
if (!$link_sqli) {
echo "Error: Unable to connect to MySQL." . PHP_EOL;
echo "Debugging error #: " . mysqli_connect_errno() . PHP_EOL;
echo "Error description: " . mysqli_connect_error() . PHP_EOL;
// END: Establish a connection to the database

// BEGIN: Define some variables
// INSTRUCTION: Specify your table name and the name of your export file.

// The name of data table containing the data you wish to export
$TableName = "Constant_States_Codes"; 

// The filename you want your export file to be named
$Filename = "Example_MySQL_Export_"; 
// END: Define some variables

// *** No more configurable options below this point for this code to function on most servers ***
// Fetch records from the database table specified in the variable $TableName
$Output = "";
$strSQL = "SELECT * FROM $TableName";
$sql = mysqli_query($link_sqli, $strSQL); 
// If the database query encounters an error, display the error message.
// Otherwise, start the export process.
if (mysqli_error($link_sqli)) { 
echo mysqli_error($link_sqli);
} else {
// Determine the number of data columns in the table
$columns_total = mysqli_num_fields($sql);

// Get the name of the data columns so it can be used in the header row of the export file.
// Content of the export file is temporarily saved in the variable $Output
for ($i = 0; $i < $columns_total; $i++) {
  $Heading = mysqli_fetch_field_direct($sql, $i);
  $Output .= '"' . $Heading->name . '",';
$Output .= "\n";		
// The /n is the control code to go to a new line in the export file.

// Loop through each record in the table and read the data value from each column.
while ($row = mysqli_fetch_array($sql)) {
  for ($i = 0; $i < $columns_total; $i++) {
     $Output .= '"' . $row["$i"] . '",';
  $Output .= "\n";

// Create the export file and name it with the name specified in variable $Filename
// Also appends the current timestamp (in the format yyyymmddhhmmss) to the filename and give it a .CSV file extension.
// The timestamp serves as a time reference to identify when the data was exported.
//File is comma delimited with double-quote used a the text qualifier
// Once  file is created, download of the file begins automatically (tested on Google Chrome).
$TimeNow = date("YmdHis");
$Filename .= $TimeNow . ".csv";
header('Content-type: application/csv');
header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=' . $Filename);
echo $Output;

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