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Turn Off Storing the Commenter’s IP Address in WordPress DB

When managing your website, an essential aspect that should not be overlooked is how to turn off storing the commenter’s IP address in your WordPress database. This article will unravel the reasons for this seemingly technical process and what it implies in a simple and comprehensive manner.

The current article is "6.15. Turn Off Storing the IP" of our Complete SEO Guide Box.
Previous Article: 6.14. Remove All the Fields. Next Article: 6.16. Turn Off Storing User Agent

The Problem: WordPress’s Default Settings

Before we delve into the reasons for turning off storing a commenter’s IP address, it’s essential to understand how WordPress handles IP addresses by default. Upon setting up, WordPress automatically saves the IP address of any user that comments. This information is stored directly in your WordPress database. There is an option to view the IP address associated with each comment within your WordPress admin dashboard.

While this feature may have its benefits, such as aiding in identifying and managing spam comments, it does raise concerns regarding user privacy and data security, prompting many site owners to consider turning off this default setting.

What does Turning Off Storing Commenter’s IP mean?

Firstly, we should understand what we mean by turning off storing the commenter’s IP address. In essence, it’s a measure taken to stop your WordPress database from retaining the unique identifiers, known as IP addresses, associated with comments made on your site. Rest assured, turning off this feature neither hinders people’s ability to comment nor the functionality of your website’s commenting system. Instead, it means the record of which IP address each comment originated from is no longer kept.

The Need for Data Minimization

A key reason for turning off storing the commenter’s IP address lies in data minimization. This principle advocates that businesses should only accumulate the data they genuinely require. If there’s no operational demand for IP addresses, it’s more prudent to erase them to comply with this principle.

Ensuring User Privacy

User privacy is another compelling reason to turn off storing a commenter’s IP address. Some visitors may find the storage of their IP addresses, particularly without their consent, unsettling. By safeguarding your users’ privacy, you can foster trust and strengthen the bond between your website and its users. This means that if you turn off a user’s IP gathering, you don’t need to state in the Privacy Policy that you do.

Reducing Security Risks

Finally, from a security perspective, turning off storing commenter’s IP addresses mitigates potential risks. In the unfortunate event of a data breach, any personal data saved in your WordPress database, including IP addresses, could be exposed. Not storing these addresses means you are lessening the possible damage from such incidents.

Akismet Concerns

Akismet, a popular anti-spam plugin often used with WordPress, utilizes commenters’ IP addresses as one of its tools to identify spam comments. It cross-references the IP addresses of incoming comments with its extensive database of known spam sources. This is one of the reasons why WordPress stores commenter’s IP addresses by default.

However, it’s important to note that even if you turn off storing the commenter’s IP, it doesn’t hamper Akismet’s effectiveness significantly. Akismet uses numerous signals and identifiers for spam detection, not just IP addresses.

Consequently, even after you stop storing IP addresses, Akismet continues to efficiently identify and manage spam comments, thereby ensuring the integrity of your website’s interactive platform.

How to Turn off Storing Commenter’s IP With functions.php of Child Theme

Now, let’s delve into turning off storing the commenter’s IP address. It’s pretty straightforward and can be accomplished by modifying a file known as functions.php within your child theme.

Find the end of the file with the “?>” string.
Before that string, make at least three empty lines and paste the code:

// Disable storing user IP for new comments.
function remove_comments_ip( $comment_author_ip ) {
  return '';
add_filter( 'pre_comment_user_ip', 'remove_comments_ip' );

Click [Update File].
Clear all the caches in case you use them.

This code tells WordPress to return an empty string whenever it tries to save the commenter’s IP address, effectively turning off storing the commenter’s IP.

Remember, modifying code on your site should be done carefully, and it’s always a good idea to back up your site before making any changes to its code.

How to Remove Commenter’s IP from the Database

Suppose your site had several comments before you turned off storing the commenter’s IP address. In that case, you need to remove the older entries from the database. If you’re with CloudWays hosting, here is the article to help you access the Database Manager on CloudWays.

On the left pane, Select ‘wp_comments’ table.
On the right pane, click on the [Select Data] tab. This tab will show you all the rows in the selected database table.
Under the “from / to” row selection, you will see a small line:

SELECT * FROM `wp_comments` LIMIT 50 (0.001 s) Edit

Click on “Edit”.
To convert all the full IP slots to empty slots, paste:

UPDATE wp_comments SET comment_author_IP = '';

Click [Execute].
Please return to the [Select Data] tab to check that it was removed.

The current article is "6.15. Turn Off Storing the IP" of our Complete SEO Guide Box.
Previous Article: 6.14. Remove All the Fields. Next Article: 6.16. Turn Off Storing User Agent


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