Wondering how the Meta Box plugin stores meta values in the database? This documentation will explain how the plugin store custom fields’ values in the wp_postmeta table.

#For non-cloneable fields

For non-cloneable fields, e.g. with no clone attribute or has it set to false, the plugin stores all meta data in the data base in a WordPress-compatible way as following:

  • If field has single value, it will be saved in single row of wp_postmeta table;
  • If field has multiple values (set by 'multiple' => true like select, checkbox_list, file, image, etc.), each value will be saved in single row of wp_postmeta table

This way you can use add_post_meta or update_post_meta to update meta values and get_post_meta to retrieve them. There’s nothing different from using these functions for Meta Box and for other custom fields at all.

#For cloneable fields

For cloneable fields, cloned values are stored as a serialized array in a single row in the wp_postmeta table. The plugin does not to store cloned values in separated rows in the database because it’s confusing that we don’t know these are values of clones, or values of the field with 'multiple' => true. To make it work for all field types and for consistency, storing cloned values in a single row of the database is a better choice.

Due to this reason, you still can use get_post_meta function to retrieve meta value from the database (WordPress automatically unserializes string and returns an array). You will get an array of all cloned values.

#Specific fields

For normal fields, the values saved in the database is the value entered or selected by users. But for some specific fields, the values store is not as obvious as that. The detail is listed below.

Field TypeValue stored in the database
file, file_advanced, image, image_select, plupload_image, thickbox_imageAttachment IDs. Note that these fields are always multiple.
mapA comma separated string of “latitude,longitude”.
passwordA hash of password since 4.8.0 using wp_hash_password() function. Previously it stores simple plan text password.
postPost ID
taxonomyNothing is stored in the database. This field only sets terms for the post.
taxonomy_advancedA comma separated string of term IDs.
userUser ID


Although you can use get_post_meta to retrieve meta value, it’s recommended to use plugin’s helper function to get the value and display it in the frontend. The helper function takes care of all the logic above and returns to you the needed data in a correct format.

To understand how the value is stored in the database, please use print_r function, like this:

$value = get_post_meta( get_the_ID(), 'field_id', true ); // Last param should be 'false' if field is multiple
print_r( $value );