PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8
serialize - Generates a storable representation of a value

serialize( mixed$value ): string

Generates a storable representation of a value.

This is useful for storing or passing PHP values around without losing their type and structure.

To make the serialized string into a PHP value again, use unserialize.



The value to be serialized. serialize handles all types, except the resource-type and some objects (see note below). You can even serialize arrays that contain references to itself. Circular references inside the array/object you are serializing will also be stored. Any other reference will be lost.

When serializing objects, PHP will attempt to call the member functions __serialize() or __sleep() prior to serialization. This is to allow the object to do any last minute clean-up, etc. prior to being serialized. Likewise, when the object is restored using unserialize the __unserialize() or __wakeup() member function is called.


Object's private members have the class name prepended to the member name; protected members have a '*' prepended to the member name. These prepended values have null bytes on either side.

Return Values

Returns a string containing a byte-stream representation of value that can be stored anywhere.

Note that this is a binary string which may include null bytes, and needs to be stored and handled as such. For example, serialize output should generally be stored in a BLOB field in a database, rather than a CHAR or TEXT field.



Note that many built-in PHP objects cannot be serialized. However, those with this ability either implement the Serializable interface or the magic __serialize()/__unserialize() or __sleep()/__wakeup() methods. If an internal class does not fulfill any of those requirements, it cannot reliably be serialized.

There are some historical exceptions to the above rule, where some internal objects could be serialized without implementing the interface or exposing the methods.


When serialize serializes objects, the leading backslash is not included in the class name of namespaced classes for maximum compatibility.

Related Functions

Example of serialize

Show all examples for serialize

PHP Version: