Sean’s Obsessions

Sean Walberg’s blog

Top 1 Best Database Management Tool - and How to Use It

I’m noticing that more and more of the items that pop up in my feed reader are of the “Top N” variety. Some are decent, where the author breaks the topic down into subgroups and then shows one or two tools for each purpose. However some of them are just silly, such as the “top 100 photoshop tutorials”, which is really “the last 50 Photoshop tutorials I bookmarked, and 50 that I just Googled”.

So when I read Top Five Best Database Management Tools, I wondered what the heck the value was. Some of the tools were for Microsoft SQL server, some were for MySQL, and there was no criteria for the list other than “reader favourites”.

So, in an effort to answer the “how do I manage my database” question, here’s the top 1 database management tool, and how to use it.

But first, a disclaimer. It’s only the top tool if:

  • You use mySQL
  • Your web server can serve PHP
  • You’re me

The tool is phpMyAdmin. That should come as no surprise, because it’s on everyone else’s top N list. There may be better, but it’s easy to install and probably handles anything you can throw at it. If you’re not using MySQL, or you have something better, then go ahead and use it!

So go to the homepage and download the software. If you’re in Windows grab the .zip version, if you’re in Linux, grab the .gz version.

First, uncompress the software to somewhere outside your document root. Doing it this way makes management a bit easier in the future, but slightly complicates the installation. On my machine, I’d go

cd /var/www
tar -xzf tar -xzf /tmp/phpMyAdmin-3.2.3-all-languages.tar.gz
ln -s phpMyAdmin-3.2.3-all-languages phpMyAdmin

Line 1 gets you to the parent directory of the web stuff (at least in RedHat/CentOS). Line 2 uncompresses the software. Line 3 creates a symbolic link to the current version.

Next we’ll create an Apache configuration file to handle access to the software. You can do this in the main httpd.conf file, but most distributions have a directory where extra configurations are loaded.


Alias /phpMyAdmin/ /var/www/phpMyAdmin/

    Order deny,allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from
    Allow from
    Allow from

Line 1 maps anything under /phpMyAdmin/ (note the trailing /) to /var/www/phpMyAdmin/. The latter is a symlink to the current version, so if you want to upgrade you can have both versions uncompressed and use the symlink to change the active version. You can also choose a more friendly name, if you’d like.

The rest of the code restricts access to the localhost (, the local network, and a certain outside address. If you want everyone to access it, delete the Location stanza and everything inside it (leaving only the Alias)

If you go to the URL, you’ll be able to log in using your username and password.

An interesting thing about phpMyAdmin is that it can manage several servers from one web page. In this case, the login screen will allow you to choose the server. This is great if you have multiple mySQL servers, or if your web server and SQL server are on separate devices.

The easiest way to do this is to use the web based configuration:

mkdir /var/www/phpMyAdmin/config
chmod 777 /var/www/phpMyAdmin/config

Then hop over to (or whatever your server is) and follow the instructions to create several servers. Unless you have a specific reason to, you can choose the defaults (except for the server name!)

Once you’re done, protect the directory from writing and copy the generated file to the root:

chmod 755 /var/www/phpMyAdmin/config
cp /var/www/phpMyAdmin/config/ /var/www/phpMyAdmin

If you’d rather not use the web interface, copy the to and go from there.


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