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How to use FTP to upload files to WordPress for Beginners

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How to use FTP to upload files to WordPress for Beginners

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a fast and simple way to transfer files from one computer to another over the internet. In simple term, it is how you send one file from your computer to your web hosting server. In this article, we will show you how to use FTP to upload a plugin to WordPress. We will also show you how to change the permissions of each individual file. In the video tutorial, we will be using a software called WS_FTP Pro for Windows. The steps and instructions will carry over to pretty much all FTP softwares with a graphical user-interface.

Why knowing how to FTP is important?

There are times when you install and activate a plugin using the WordPress dashboard just to find that this plugin is incompatible with an existing plugin. The incompatibility sometimes causes a white screen of death through out the site which locks you out from doing anything. If you know how to use FTP, then instead of freaking out, you will simply login-in and delete the plugin using the FTP connection.

Often when you are trying to paste codes from tutorials into the functions.php file of your theme, you can accidentally lock yourself out. This can happen if you paste the code in the wrong place, or the code wasn’t semantically right. Knowing how to use FTP can get you out of trouble in a matter of minutes.

There will be times that you get a permission error upon activation of a plugin. The error will say, plugin cannot create XYZ folder because of the file permissions. That is when knowing how to change CHMOD permissions help.

Last but definitely not the least, knowing how to use FTP is the next step up from a beginner. It will save you a lot of time and stress.

Having that said, go ahead and watch the video:

If you are looking for other FTP clients, then here is a list of few that are good:

Filezilla (All Platform)
FireFTP (All Platform)
Cyberduck (Mac Only)
WinSCP (Windows Only)

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • WPBeginner Staff
  • WPBeginner Staff

    Wampserver is used to test WordPress on your local windows PC. You do not really need an FTP client to copy paste files in WampServer. You can just go to the /www/ directory in WAMP install folder and paste WordPress files there. See our guide on how to install WordPress using WAMP.

  • WPBeginner Staff

    You can try this FTP like file manager for WordPress.

  • Robert V Hatcher

    I have a webcam and software and I want to ftp images directly to my wordpress site. I can successfully upload them to /mysite/wp-content/uploads but they don’t show in the Media folder. What am I doing wrong?

    • WPBeginner Staff

      Files uploaded directly to the uploads folder are not actually uploaded by WordPress so it doesn’t recognize them. When you upload a file using WordPress media uploader, WordPress generates thumbnails for the file, stores file name, and allows you to even store additional details. Manually uploaded files do not go through this process so WordPress has no thumbnails for them and has no record of them in the database.

  • Ben P

    Hey WP Beginner,

    I found this article while looking up how to use a ftp to edit WP files. This makes sense but what I really want is to figure out how to update my theme without losing my changed options and editted css files.

    My theme creator says, ” please install the zipped theme file in the regular way on your wp admin. Then go to your ftp and change the language files if you need. Or unzip the theme and copy-paste your language files, then zip it with WinRAR. Finally install and activate via your admin.”

    So I have installed the new theme but when I activate it all of the options reset to default and my edited css is gone. I’ve searched through your site for an article on this subject but I can’t find anything on updating themes without losing edits.


    • WPBeginner Support

      Ben once you have uploaded your theme to your website and activated it, you can then edit individual files using FTP. For example after uploading and activating your theme you can download style.css file to your computer make changes to it and upload it back to your server. The FTP client will tell you that a file with the same name already exists what do you want to do? Click on onverwrite and this should work.

  • Amol

    hi i have build my wordpress site locally on localhost & i want to upload that site to server i dont know how to do this please help me i am a new to wp

  • Dan

    Beginner question! I am totally new to all of this and appreciate all of your videos and lessons. Thank you.

    Can you help me understand something?

    – Can I use EITHER WordPress admin OR an FTP client to do things like install a theme or plugins, work on files, etc.?

    – Can I install a theme via the admin panel and then later connect via FTP and work on the files, etc.?

    Basically, I am trying to figure out if it is either WordPress Admin OR FTP or if I can use either depending on my mood. : )

    – Finally, are there any specific advantages to using one over the other?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Editorial Staff

      1. Yes, you can either or.

      2. Yes you can install a theme in the admin panel and later use FTP to work on files.

      The rule of thumb we follow:

      Use WordPress admin to do updates // install plugins // write articles
      Use FTP to modify files (i.e add snippets to functions.php etc)

      • Dan

        Thanks! That’ very helpful.

  • Peter

    Cyberduck is a great client and can be used under Windows too ;)

  • Janelle

    Good stuff…Thanks

  • Prabhakar Msihra

    Nice One :). Was looking for the same thing, lucky to find it here

  • md.ikhtiar

    nice video. thanks brother.

  • hillers54


    Hi Mr Beginner – not heard of WS_FTP.

    Notice you are using Pro.

    Does that mean it is not free?

  • wpbeginner

    @hillers54 Yeah filezilla is neat… WS_FTP has pretty much all SFTP / SSH settings as well. I love the UI for WS_FTP.

  • hillers54

    Nice one – love the video.

    Now I can put a face to these articles.

    Agree, you must have FTP to get access.

    One thing to mention about Filezilla – they have a couple of secure FTP settings, which my host supports.

    Worth using Filezilla just for that.

  • incription

    Beautiful written article, thanks for taking your time and sharing this wonderful article.

  • water heater

    Thanks a lot for sharing this one to us.