PDO/PHP Batch Inserting Records to Improve Speed

January 25th, 2023

While making a remittance checker I was running into issues with the huge amount of records coming in that needed to be stored and processed.

A single SQL query/insert was taking something like 100-200ms and a single record import might have several.

For a file of 1m+ rows, this is unacceptable so I started looking for speed improvements.

Below is a function I settled on that took my time from 3000+ minutes down to 12 for a large file.

    function createBatchInsertStatement($table, $columns, $rows) {
        $processed_data = array();

        foreach ($rows as $data) {
            foreach($data as $val) {
                $processed_data[] = $val;

        $placeholders = implode(',', array_fill(0, count($rows), '('.str_pad('', (count($columns)*2)-1, '?,').')'));

        $sql = "INSERT INTO {$table} (" . implode(', ', $columns) . ") VALUES " . $placeholders . ";";
        return [$sql, $processed_data];

The function takes in 3 parameters: $table, $columns, and $rows.

$table is the table name

$columns is a 1-dimensional array of column headers, as in the database

$table is an n-dimensional array of rows to insert

The function will then respond with a 1×2 array containing the statement in $response[0] and the formatted array (compressed to 1-dimensional) in the $response[1].

An example usage would look like this:

    $table = "charges"; 
    $columns = array("order_id", "charge_type", "amount"); 
    // your batched data, limit to 50-100 records at a time for stability 
    // array_chunk can handle automatically chunking a main data array 
    // for you 
    $rows = array( 
        array("10001", "Principal", "32.66"); 
        array("10002", "Tax", "2.21"); 
        array("10003", "GiftWrapping", "0.48"); 
    $response = createBatchInsertStatement($table, $columns, $rows); 
    // here $db is a PDO connection object 
    $orders = $db->prepare($response[0]); 

That’s it, use this function to create queries wherever you find yourself batch-inserting large amounts of data!


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