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Where Does WordPress Store Images on Your Site?

Are you wondering where does WordPress store images on your website? Many beginners users have asked us how does WordPress store images and what they can do to organize their media library more effectively. In this article, we will explain how WordPress stores images on your site.

Where does WordPress store images on your site

How Does WordPress Store Images?

WordPress comes with a built-in system to manage your media uploads like images, videos, music, documents, etc. This system allows you to upload, manage, edit, and delete files from your WordPress media library.

Media Library view in WordPress admin area

By default, WordPress stores all your images and media uploads in /wp-content/uploads/ folder on your server. All uploads are organized in a month and year based folders.

For example, all your media files uploaded in in March 2016 will be stored in:

/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/

You can view these folders by connecting to your WordPress site using an FTP client.

FTP view of uploads directory of a WordPress site

WordPress also adds information about your image uploads in the database. Information about your uploads is stored in database as a attachment post type under the posts table.

Database entry for attachment post type as seen in phpMyAdmin

WordPress also saves information in posts meta table when you insert images into posts/pages or any other custom post type.

When you set featured image also known as thumbnails, WordPress saves this information as a meta key _thumbnail_id and stores it in the postmeta table of your database.

Thumbnail ID meta key stored in postmeta table

Deleting your files from server using an FTP client will remove them from your server, but it will not remove them from the WordPress database. Those images will continue to appear on your WordPress site as broken images.

Similarly, if you delete references to your images and media uploads from database, then WordPress will stop showing them in the Media library. Even if all your images are intact and stored on your server.

Changing How WordPress Stores Images and Media Uploads

By default, WordPress does not allow you to change the uploads location from WordPress admin area. The only change you can make is to disable the month and year based folders by visiting Settings » Media page.

Organizing uploads in months and year based folders

Simply uncheck the box next to ‘Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders’ option and save your changes. WordPress will start storing your files directly in /wp-content/uploads/ folder.

Advanced WordPress users can use a custom upload directory instead of the default location. See our guide on how to change the default media upload location in WordPress.

Organizing Your Images in WordPress

WordPress does not allow you to use custom folders when uploading your images. This makes it difficult for users to organize their images in a folder based structure.

However, you can use image tagging to organize your WordPress media uploads. WordPress gallery plugins like Envira Gallery make image organization easier with albums and image tags.

We hope this article helped you learn where does WordPress store images on your site. You may also want to see our guide on how to find royalty free images for your WordPress blog.

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Reader Interactions

30 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. hi
    i have about 100 images in my gallery.
    when i looked at the download images in the server, i sow almost 1000.
    same image 10 times.. with different resolution.
    why is that?
    how do wordpress store images?
    thanks

  2. If I only move the files to wp-content folder, does it still creates a reference in database?

  3. Hello Admin,

    I have some issues in automated Generated URLs,

    I have some URLs that includes only individual images in body from the rest of the website URLs, and they are indexed in Google. I wanted to remove this type of URLs from the Google Index.

  4. Hi,

    I have been working in a website. It is a redesign of an already existing page, so what I did was: I exported all posts and pages through WP Exporter, but the images were missing. So, now the posts that had galleries don’t have the galleries, they don’t show up. Later, and as I was really advanced, I realized I should’ve exported and imported the database as well. Long story short, now I am trying to recover those images and make them appear in my current site. Is there a way to blend the last database with the new one?
    Thanks a lot.

  5. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for your help!!!

    Is there a plugin which can help to remove all the images not actualy used in any posts or pages?

    Thank you.

  6. Hello
    how to upload user images from custom template to custom folders and also in database table.

    Pls help
    Thanku.

  7. Hello – Are there other places that WP can store images? I’ve taken over a legacy site (a pretty new site) and an image i need to replace is not located in the media library but does not appear to be hosted outside the site.

    • Hi Adam, did you ever figure this out? I’m running into the same issue. I have a list of images that are too big in file size, so I am going through the site and reducing these to optimize our site upload time. I’m having no luck with finding ANY images that contain “/legacy” in the URL.

  8. Hello,
    Thanks for the article.
    I have a question about converting an ASP.NET website to wordpress, if you can write an article describing the required tables and how to insert data in it.
    Thanks.

  9. If I delete and image from my media library after posting it to my site will it delete the image off of my site as well?

  10. Am I right in thinking that having a lot of images in the media library doesn’t slow up the site? I’m trying to get my head round the way pages load, to try and get a better speed. So if you have a lot of images on a page, they will slow it up but it doesn’t matter how many images you have stored. Is that right?

  11. I had one question regarding SEO of images. When you upload pics in media library, you can suggest a title, caption and alt text. Similarly when you are actually adding that media to the post pr image widget on page builder, you again can enter title, caption, alt image etc. Does it matter if we do it once or we have do it again for the media while adding it to a post ? How it is different

    • I think the caption can vary depending on where you’re using the image but the others stay the same. The alt text should be different from the title, or you can mark the image as decorative. If you have an accessibility plugin for people with a visual impairment, you also have to fill in the description.

  12. Is there a way to export a list of items in the media file with the associated links? I found this post while trying to answer this question. I have looked for the wp_post file via phpmyadmin and can’t find it. Perhaps this is an old post?

  13. Do you guys recommend using your own image folder structure via FTP?

    I like to create a folder in the root called “images”, and store the images there. Well, as many as that particular WordPress t heme would let me.

    Is that better or worse than the default date-based structure?

    Sincerely,
    Marc

  14. I built a website on my churches server. So now when I’m building my personal site which is a different server. I see all of the media of my churches site with my personal. Oh I built them on my laptop.

  15. It’s shame, that WordPress still haven’t better media files upload solution with better folder organization.

  16. Hi,
    My attached one of images are not shown as image tag beside starting paragraph as a tag.
    How to enable this feature?

    I need this info.

    Thanks.

  17. Hello editorial staff members, i have read and seen your many blog posts. I have a question in mind.
    How to build these beautiful images for your blog posts.

  18. hello, can you tell us why wp crop images? even when i upload i single one?

    thank you for your daily edition emails!

    • WP automatically creates thumbnails, and versions for various sizes (small, medium, large, etc) for use with various devices on responsive website. So generally you’ll have the original size + the various auto-created sizes. You can then pick the appropriate size when adding an image to a page/post and WP will then serve the correct version for the device being used.

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