What is the most efficient way to delete thousands of posts, custom post types, media attachments and other things in WordPress? The answer is: not through the admin panel.
If you have ever tried deleting a couple of hundred (or so) items from the WordPress admin panel before, then you would know if the request doesn’t timeout, you’ve won the WordPress lottery. And, if it does timeout, you have to keep spamming the refresh button until it works.
There is a better way. The WP CLI is often overlooked, but it’s invaluable for managing large amounts of data in a WordPress site. In my case, I had about 15,000 broken image attachment references and 6000 custom post type posts to remove.
By calling the
wp delete command and passing in a sub-call to post list, we can get the ID’s of every post of any type and then delete. We use the
--force flag to tell WordPress to permanently delete them and not just send them to the trash.
wp post delete $(wp post list --post_type='my_post_type' --format=ids) --force
The most remarkable thing of all? WordPress media items are just posts of type attachment so, if you want to remove all attachments, you can do this:
wp post delete $(wp post list --post_type='attachment' --format=ids) --force
The WP CLI is invaluable to level up your WordPress workflow and development. I highly recommend you leverage it, especially for heavy tasks where plugins and the UI can’t handle it.