When *not* to use prepared statements?


I'm re-engineering a PHP-driven web site which uses a minimal database. The original version used "pseudo-prepared-statements" (PHP functions which did quoting and parameter replacement) to prevent injection attacks and to separate database logic from page logic.

It seemed natural to replace these ad-hoc functions with an object which uses PDO and real prepared statements, but after doing my reading on them, I'm not so sure. PDO still seems like a great idea, but one of the primary selling points of prepared statements is being able to reuse them… which I never will. Here's my setup:

  • The statements are all trivially simple. Most are in the form SELECT foo,bar FROM baz WHERE quux = ? ORDER BY bar LIMIT 1. The most complex statement in the lot is simply three such selects joined together with UNION ALLs.
  • Each page hit executes at most one statement and executes it only once.
  • I'm in a hosted environment and therefore leery of slamming their servers by doing any "stress tests" personally.

Given that using prepared statements will, at minimum, double the number of database round-trips I'm making, am I better off avoiding them? Can I use PDO::MYSQL_ATTR_DIRECT_QUERY to avoid the overhead of multiple database trips while retaining the benefit of parametrization and injection defense? Or do the binary calls used by the prepared statement API perform well enough compared to executing non-prepared queries that I shouldn't worry about it?


Thanks for all the good advice, folks. This is one where I wish I could mark more than one answer as "accepted" — lots of different perspectives. Ultimately, though, I have to give rick his due… without his answer I would have blissfully gone off and done the completely Wrong Thing even after following everyone's advice. :-)

Emulated prepared statements it is!

By : Ben Blank


Today's rule of software engineering: if it isn't going to do anything for you, don't use it.

By : chaos

When not to use prepared statements? When you're only going to be running the statement once before the db connection goes away.

When not to use bound query parameters (which is really what most people use prepared statements to get)? I'm inclined to say "never" and I'd really like to say "never", but the reality is that most databases and some db abstraction layers have certain circumstances under which they won't allow you to bind parameters, so you're forced to not use them in those cases. Any other time, though, it will make your life simpler and your code more secure to use them.

I'm not familiar with PDO, but I'd bet it provides a mechanism for running parametrized queries with the values given in the same function call if you don't want to prepare, then run as a separate step. (e.g., Something like run_query("SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = ?", 1) or similar.)

Also, if you look under the hood, most db abstraction layers will prepare the query, then run it, even if you just tell it to execute a static SQL statement. So you're probably not saving a trip to the db by avoiding explicit prepares anyhow.

I think you want PDO::ATTR_EMULATE_PREPARES. That turns off native database prepared statements, but still allows query bindings to prevent sql injection and keep your sql tidy. From what I understand, PDO::MYSQL_ATTR_DIRECT_QUERY turns off query bindings completely.

By : rick

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin