Beginner's Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes

How to Use FTP to Upload Files to WordPress for Beginners

Have you been thinking about learning how to use FTP to upload files to your WordPress website?

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a fast and simple way to upload files from your computer to your website.

In this article, we will show you how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

How to Use FTP to Upload Files to WordPress for Beginners

What Is FTP?

If you created a WordPress website, then you may have heard about FTP and wondered whether you should be using it.

FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a standard way of transferring files from your computer to your website hosting account. You can think of it as file management for the internet.

You use a software package called an FTP client to connect to your website’s FTP server. Once the connection has been made, you can access the files on your website and upload files from your computer.

You might be wondering why you need FTP when you can transfer files to your site without it. For example, you can upload media files from your WordPress admin area. You can also upload plugins and themes using WordPress.

FTP is useful because you can use it even when there is a problem with your WordPress site. For example, you can use FTP to upload a plugin or theme file manually when you’re troubleshooting WordPress problems.

Choosing FTP Software

First, you will need to download and install an FTP client on your computer. An FTP client is an application that helps you connect to your website and transfer files using the FTP protocol.

There are many FTP clients to choose from. If you would like help choosing one that works on your computer, then you might like to check out our list of the best FTP clients for Mac and Windows.

Some popular free programs are WinSCP for Windows, Cyberduck for Mac, and the cross-platform FileZilla. We’ll use FileZilla in this tutorial, but the basic concepts are the same regardless of the software you choose.

Connecting to Your WordPress Site Using FTP

To keep your files secure, FTP requires a username and password. So when you open your FTP software you’ll need to enter your FTP login credentials.

Your FTP login credentials were sent to you via email when you signed up for your WordPress hosting account . You can also find your FTP account information in your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard.

FTP Account Information in Your Hosting Account

If you can’t find your login credentials, then you can contact your hosting provider to get the information.

Once you have the login information, you need to open FileZilla and then select File » Site Manager from the menu.

Go to File » Site Manager

This will open a popup window where you can add your website information. You should click on the ‘New Site’ button and provide a title for your website.

Provide a Title for Your Website

Now it’s time to enter the login details you found earlier. In the protocol section you should select SFTP if your hosting provider supports it, otherwise leave it as FTP.

You’ll be asked to enter your host. This is usually your domain name, but sometimes you need to add ‘ftp.’ at the beginning. Next, you should select ‘Normal’ for the Logon Type and then enter your FTP username and password.

Enter Your FTP Credentials

Once you’ve entered those details you can click on the Connect button to continue. FileZilla will save your website settings for future logins and open a new FTP connection to your website.

If this is your first time connecting to your website from this computer, then FileZilla may show you a certificate popup.

FileZilla May Show You a Certificate Popup

You can stop this popping up in the future by checking ‘Always trust certificate for future sessions’. Then you should click on the OK button to continue.

FileZilla will now attempt to log in to your website using the credentials you entered. Once connected, you will see two columns of files and folders.

Local and Remote File Lists

The left column lists the Local files on your computer. The right column lists the Remote files on your website. This layout lets you easily transfer files to and from your website.

Uploading Files to Your WordPress Site Using FTP

Now we’re ready to upload files to your website. Let’s start with something easy. We’ll upload a test file to the main folder on our website.

First, you need to navigate to the folder that contains the test file. Do that in the left column that contains your local files. Next, make sure that you can see the folder you want to upload to in the Remote site column on the right.

After that, you should right click the file and select Upload from the menu.

Right Click and Select Upload

FileZilla will upload the file from your computer to your WordPress site. It creates a copy of the file and leaves the original on your computer.

We don’t recommend uploading files using drag and drop because it’s less reliable. For example, if you accidentally drag the file onto a folder, then you may upload it to the wrong place on your website.

That’s important because WordPress expects to find certain files and folders in specific locations. Uploading a file to the wrong folder may cause a problem.

For example, when you upload media files using FTP they belong in a folder inside /wp-content/uploads/. Themes should be uploaded to /wp-content/themes/ and plugins to the /wp-content/plugins/ folder.

To see how this works, we’ll manually upload a plugin to your WordPress website. First, you need to download the plugin and then unzip it. You’ll find a folder that contains the plugin.

Make sure you can see that folder in the left column of your FTP client. Then navigate to the wp-content/plugins/ folder in the Remote column. After that, you can upload the plugin folder from your computer to your website.

Upload a Plugin

The plugin will take longer to load than our test file. Once it has finished uploading, you need to visit the plugins page inside your WordPress admin area to activate the plugin.

Activate the Plugin

Uploading a premium theme is similar. First, you need to download and unzip the theme folder on your computer. After that, you can upload it to
/wp-content/themes/ folder on your website.

Downloading Files from Your WordPress Site Using FTP

FTP isn’t just used to upload files from your computer to your WordPress website. It can also be used to download files so that you can edit them.

Simply right-click the file you want to download in the Remote site column and select Download from the menu. The file will be transferred to the folder you’re viewing in the left Local column.

Right Click and Select Download

You can also use FTP to backup your WordPress files. Simply select all files and folders and download them to your computer.

But keep in mind that this is not a complete backup of your WordPress site. All of your content is stored in a database, not the files that you downloaded.

If you want to back up your content as well, then you can do so by creating a manual backup of your WordPress database.

We hope this tutorial helped you learn how to use FTP to upload files to your WordPress website.

You may also want to see our step by step WordPress security guide for beginners or check out our list of must have plugins to grow your site.

If you liked this guide, then please consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit – a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

116 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. So everything is perfect when i use the Edit tool but as soon as I publish, there are no spaces between paragraphs. I tried looking for the Editor in Appearance but my WP Admin page does not have that feature. How do I fix this?

  2. Hello this is a really great tutorial; but i have a question, i dont have much experience, so im trying to set the winSCP, but it gave me this error message conecting to (my host name) acces denied, and ask me to put the pasword again, if some one can help me i will be really happy.

  3. Thank you. This video saved me! Clear information for someone who would not even call themselves a beginner yet! Much Appreciated

  4. I installed and connected filezilla to my site, but in Remote site section appear nothing…. What can I do?

  5. Hi,

    In order do use FTP do i have to download one of the FTP clients?

    Thanks for you help in advance :)

  6. hi….am using a local host ISS7 and web matrix to power up my word press. and i have absolutely no idea of using file zilla to upload my files into wordpress. please i need help… thanks

  7. You definitely saved my life :)
    I’m one of those people trying to do all by themselves, and got locked out by my site.
    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • @Barabra,

      Same here, I’m doing my own business set up. I love this plug-in! Once you understand the structure of WordPress, it’s a blast to use.

      I love their plug-ins and the ease of the design.

  8. I am yet to buy the domain from any hosting provider. I am new to WP. How to configure filezilla for hostname: ***.worpress.com? is it possible?

  9. Please help me. After editing the functions.php of my site, this appeared: Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘<' in /home/carljohn/public_html/wp/wp-content/themes/blog-start/functions.php on line 83. How will I resolve this problem?

  10. Hi!!
    Hmm… So I’m new at this whole FTP programs thing.. And as I have to completely change and update my company’s website, I wanted to use the domain but switch everything else to WordPress… Do you have any tutorial about this switch?
    Thank you!

  11. Just signed up to WordPress, but unfortunately I have not received an email yet telling me the ftp details. Where can I request them? Is it possible to upload an entire website to WordPress? Thanks for ur help…

  12. Blah, blah, blah. What the heck is the WordPress FTP server? I know how to use ftp but I don’t know the wordpress server?!?!

    • Your WordPress server is the computer where your WordPress site is stored by your web hosting company. An FTP client allows you to connect to that computer and upload or download files. Please contact your web hosting service provider for your FTP login credentials.

      Admin

  13. Thank You!! This was very useful info & saved a lot of time in restoring the corrupt php file and now my website is up and running again…. saved me a great amount of time in redoing hell lot of development……. I appreciate you.

  14. I am a new webmaster, and was sent Login Info for WordPress and the FTP.
    There was also a link and so I clicked on the link and it sent me to a login dialog box. I entered the login info and password then nothing happened. Why???

  15. Great video. The issue I have is I wanted to upload a video file into the media folder using FTP, I followed these steps and could not locate de media folder, how can I do tha?

  16. Thank god for you guys! I got no help from my theme provider, or wordpress.org to fix my problem I locked myself out with Error 500 editing functions.php file and you nailed it down for me!!! Hours spent previously trying to figure out what to do and you saved the day—- YOU ROCK

  17. Can you tell me if I can use wordpress.org as a store? I have a dropship company that can give me FTP files of their products and upload to a website. I have to build a new website so maybe wordpress.org??

  18. Hi

    I installed WordPress via FTP client , But i want to upload another ready to host website in zipped format in which i want to make changes in like i want to change the banners & affiliate links to my own. How can i do the same?. Because i did upload it but could not edit it after that. Can you please help me with this?. Thanks a lot

  19. Thank you for this. I was locked out of my site yesterday when I edited my functions.php file. After freaking out, taking a deep breath (as instructed by one of your articles), laughing from nervousness, trying a few things and eventually taking time of to clear my head, I finally managed. Took me a couple of minutes. :)

  20. What am I doing wrong? Both Filezilla and Cyberduck say they cannot connect to server. I ran a diagnosis and there is not an issue with connect to the internet. I listed hostgator as my host.

  21. Thank you for your help! This and related posts helped me get through my coding error without freaking out too much. For some reason, my website is still messed up (I didn’t have the functions.php saved, so I just removed the bad code and saved the rest to access my website as admin), but at least it’s not entirely inaccessible!

  22. I locked myself out of my WordPress after I put a code snippet to the function.php file. I know where the error is. I do not have a backup of my files of my website (my computer recently crashed). Can I still enter the function.php somehow and remove the code?
    Or does my hosting company have access to those files?

    • These values will be provided by your web hosting provider when you set up your account. You can also get these details from your web hosting control panel. The hostname is your server’s location, and username and password are your FTP login credentials.

      Admin

  23. The important things missed in this tutorial are:
    What are the host ftp, username, password and port number to be used with Word Press.
    Without these information, FileZilla can not transfer your files.
    Large file transfer presents a problem. Usually the server will cut off the transfer if your files would take to long time to transfer. To reduce the size of your file, you have to apply some file compressor program before you use FTP. For example the video files are usually very large and need to be compressed before you can use FTP to transfer them.

  24. You are not supposed to be editing the core WordPress files. You can edit your posts and pages using WordPress admin area. Or if you want to change something in your theme then you can do that in Appearance -> Customize section.

    If you still must edit the files using FTP then first make sure that you have a complete backup of your WordPress site.

  25. I have been looking for an hour for an answer..
    What file in FileZilla holds the pages that are installed on my site?
    I want to edit something on a page that I can’t seem to edit in my wp editor.

  26. So I dl’d FileZilla but I’m confused about the ‘host’. All I did was hop onto WordPress.com and started my blog, but I don’t have any of the initial emails because I did it a while ago. Is wordpress my host? Or are people using other parties to “host” their sites?

  27. I am still confused. I logged into FTP but now I am trying to fix the problem. What happened is I tried to put an ad from google adsense into a different sidebar by putting code into my website. That created a syntax error and now I am locked out.

    This website says you can delete a file and hopefully you saved the original. But I didn’t save an original so what do I do. How do I find the spot where I put the code and be able to just delete that select area out so I can get my site back?

    The video doesn’t say that.

    Thanks.

  28. I have installed word press now i have to upload files to server. Im using wamp server. How will i upload files n start using wordpress. Basicaly im a bit confused by the term file uploadinh on server

  29. 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?

    • 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.

  30. 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.

    Thanks!

    • 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.

      Admin

  31. 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

  32. 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.

    • 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)

      Admin

  33. @wpbeginner

    Hi Mr Beginner – not heard of WS_FTP.

    Notice you are using Pro.

    Does that mean it is not free?

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

  35. 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.

Leave a Reply to Eric Cancel reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.