Displaying base64 image data from DB using PHP

This specific content was written 8 years ago. Please keep this in mind as it may be outdated and not adhering to best-practices.

This is based on a question from stackoverflow that I answered.

Imagine we store within a database image data as the following:


After retrieving the data from MySQL how do we display it?

Convert base64 data to image:

In this case you need to use the header function to tell the browser you will send an image.
Following, you take the $data variable that you set from a MySQL query, and use base64_decode to display.

header("Content-type: image/gif");
$data = "/9j/4AAQSkZJRgABAQEAYABgAAD........";
echo base64_decode($data);

Clients request .php to display image:

In this case you want to encode the image data directly into a PHP generated page you would do the following:

echo '<img src="data:image/gif;base64,' . $data . '" />';

There is a downside to this in that the browser does not cache an image that is used on multiple separate pages (since each page contains the binary data within the HTML document).The second case is bad because the browser does not perform caching if the same image is shown on multiple pages.



Menelaos Bakopoulos

Mr. Menelaos Bakopoulos is currently pursuing his PhD both at Center for TeleInFrastruktur (CTiF) at Aalborg University (AAU) in Denmark and Athens Information Technology (AIT) in Athens, Greece. He received a Master in Information Technology and Telecommunications Systems from Athens Information Technology and a B.Sc. in Computer Science & Management Information Systems from the American College of Thessaloniki. Since April 2008 he has been a member of the Multimedia, Knowledge, and Web Technologies Group.

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