Escaping MySQL strings with no connection available

We’re all being drilled over and over again to always use mysqli::escape_string, PDO::quote, or preferably prepared statements when escaping user-supplied strings for use in MySQL queries.

The downside to these methods is that they only work when there’s an open connection to a server. So what if there’s no connection available? In traditional Unix philosophy I’m writing an export script that doesn’t execute SQL statements right to a server, but sends them to stdout. Forcing people to make a connection seems like a major inconvenience.

So what’s left? Manual escaping I suppose.. The manual page for mysqli::escape_string mentions: Characters encoded are NUL (ASCII 0), \n, \r, \, ‘, “, and Control-Z.

function dontHateMe($unescaped) {
  $replacements = array(
  return strtr($unescaped,$replacements);

There’s a risk though.. Certain multi-byte character sets (such as BIG5 and GBK) may still allow for a security hole. You should be fine with UTF-8, so make sure you start your file with:


Still no guarantee from my side though. Tread carefully and avoid this if you can. If you have a better idea, or you feel like shouting at me for this.. let’s hear it in the comments.

Special thanks to Spudley for providing me with a reasonable answer to this question.

Web mentions


  • Rob

    I think the line "'"=>"\'", should be "'"=>'\'',