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How to Change the Default Media Upload Location in WordPress

Do you want to change the default media upload location in WordPress?

Moving your media files to a different folder can improve your website’s speed and performance and help you create backups more quickly. It also gives you the freedom to organize your files in the way that best suits you.

In this article, we will show you how to change the default media upload location in WordPress.

How to Change the Default Media Upload Location in WordPress

Why Change the Default Media Upload Location?

By default, WordPress stores all your images and other media files in the /wp-content/uploads/ folder.

Inside this folder, you’ll find sub-folders for the different years and months. For example, any files you uploaded in January 2023 will be stored in https://example.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/.

The default WordPress media upload location

This default structure works well for most WordPress blogs and websites. However, sometimes you may want to change where WordPress stores your files. For example, you might host images on a subdomain, as this can speed up your WordPress performance.

Moving your media files to a different folder can also help you create backups more quickly.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to change the default media upload location in WordPress, step-by-step.

Changing the Default Media Upload Location in WordPress

To change the media directory, you’ll need to add a code snippet to your WordPress website. That said, you may want to create a backup of your website before making any changes.

With that done, you’ll need to connect to your site using an FTP client such as FileZilla. If you haven’t used FTP before, then please see our beginner’s guide on how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

After connecting using FTP, simply create a new folder where you’ll store the media files. Make a note of the exact folder name, as you’ll be needing it in the next step.

Next, you’ll need to add a code snippet to WordPress. Often, WordPress tutorials will ask you to add custom code to your theme’s functions.php file.

The biggest problem is that even a tiny mistake in the custom code snippet can break your WordPress site or even make it inaccessible. Plus, you’ll lose all the custom code the next time you update your WordPress theme.

For that reason, we recommend using WPCode. WPCode is the most popular code snippets plugin that allows you to add custom CSS, PHP, HTML, and more, without putting your WordPress site at risk.

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the free WPCode plugin on your website. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to Code Snippets » Add Snippet in your WordPress dashboard. 

On this screen, hover your mouse over ‘Add Your Own Custom Snippet’ and then click on ‘Use Snippet’ when it appears.

The WPCode code snippet plugin for WordPress

To start, type in a title for the code snippet. This is just for your reference, so you can use anything you want.

With that done, open the ‘Code Type’ dropdown and choose ‘PHP Snippet.’

Change the default media upload location in WordPress using WPCode

You can now paste the following into the code editor:

define( 'UPLOADS', 'wp-content/'.'files' );

The above snippet changes the upload directory to wp-content/files, so make sure to replace it with the location you want to use.

After that, scroll to the ‘Insertion’ box and select ‘Auto Insert’ if it isn’t selected already. You can then open the ‘Location’ dropdown and choose ‘Run Everywhere’ to make sure the snippet is active across your entire WordPress website.

Changing the default media upload location using code

With that done, scroll to the top of the screen and click on the ‘Inactive’ toggle so that it shows ‘Active.’

You can then go ahead and click on ‘Save Snippet’ to make the code live.

Publishing a PHP code snippet in WordPress

Now you’ve changed the media upload location, you may want to change how the files are organized inside this new folder.

By default, WordPress stores all media files inside month and year folders. If you prefer to save all the files inside the same folder, then go to Settings » Media.

You can now uncheck the ‘Organize my uploads….’ box and click on ‘Save Changes.’

Choose Whether to Organize Media Folders by Month and Year

Now, WordPress will upload all your media files to the same folder. To see these files, simply connect to your site using an FTP client and then open the folder you selected.

For more information on troubleshooting WordPress upload issues, see our guide on how to fix common image issues in WordPress.

We hope this article helped you change the default media upload location in WordPress. You may also want to check out our guide on the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them, and the best SEO plugins and tools you should use.

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Reader Interactions

85 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Is it necessary or better to upload media files in the media upload location? For example, the defaut media upload location is wp-content/uploads/ but I want to place audio files in /files1/ and /files2 etc. Is it a problem?

    These audio files will still be played perfectly although they will not appear in the library (but I do not need it). I just need short URL for QR codes on audiobooks. Thanks.

    • It is up to personal preference for where you set your media files, there is no specifically better location and it is alright to change the media location.

      Admin

  2. Hello There,
    I have don’t it successfully. When I upload files the systems show the error “The uploaded file could not be moved to files”. Would you please assist me on this?

  3. First of all thanks to you guys. I have a query. When I change default upload directory, what happens to the media/files already uploaded to default Uploads directory.
    Do be more clear will it break anything on my already working site?

    • Unless you move the old media to the new folder your old media will show broken links

      Admin

  4. please am having this error below which could not allow me to load images on my page or post

    UPLOADING

    Dismiss Errors
    12742841_1155189411165548_8438395707068412258_n.jpg
    An error occurred in the upload. Please try again later.

  5. i want to change the default upload folder to another hosting.
    i found some plugins but they dont change the “default folder !”.
    my website is running with an automatic plugin that uploads pictures automaticly to the default folder. i can change the default folder in my webhost but not to another server !
    what should i do ? plz help me

  6. Hi, thanks for this tutorial.

    But I have a question.

    whether it will return to default (wp-content/upload) again when WordPress updated ?

    Cheers :)

  7. Hey guys! You should mention in the article that the “define” code should be placed somewhere _before_ the “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.” line. Otherwise it’ll cause trouble for some users (see for more details).

    • H.T. Major and anyone else who has something like the following structure for WordPress:

      WEB ROOT
      – wp-content
      — uploads
      – wordpress_install_files

      using define(‘UPLOADS’,’wp-content/uploads/’); wont work because it is using the wordpress root as the relative location. It doesn’t really seem to accept any kind of absolute path etc, it just appends it to the wordpress root.

      But if you use:

      define(‘UPLOADS’,’..wp-content/uploads/’); this should work the way you are looking to do. I struggled with this for a while and this seems to do the trick.

      • Edit, to be neat remove the trailing slash: define(‘UPLOADS’,’..wp-content/uploads’);

        This will go two steps back, so out of your wordpress folder, presumably into the web root and then into a folder wp-content/uploads.

        • What if I want to go change the upload like this

          Old: /home/public_html/wp-content/uploads

          new: /home/new folder/uploads

    • Thnx. I did some research on CDN but I found that it just caches the images to serve from a remote location that is the nearest to the user. I just want to upload to a different server hence, the second option may work for me.
      But as I feel FTP may not be really secure, do you tend to have a solution as how I can use any other protocol such as HTTP/HTTPS or Rsync to do the same(I wonder if WP supports this).

  8. i change my upload path
    but my old featured image and media links are now change to new path and broken !
    i want just links and path of new media that upload being change to new path

  9. hi . how change address upload media to server.I do not speak English and I have translated the text with Google Translate., Please guide me
    Thanks

    • First, make sure you backup your existing upload directory before changing the default media upload location in WordPress. You can leave your old uploads directory as it is so that older media on your site is not broken. However, if you don’t want to use older media uploads directory at all then you should know that media locations in your posts, pages, widgets are hardcoded URLs so they will not change themselves. You can try to import external images and check your site for broken links to make sure that all images on your site are appearing correctly.

      Admin

    • Apologize for the comment, a tad late. This is the only article I could find that addresses this for the newer wp installs (3.6.1). All the other ones are about the misc folder. Anyways, followed the steps and it works, but the images are broken. I’m only working with a few images so it’s not a big deal to re-upload them.

      So i assume I need to create a new folder “media” (my path). Would that be going under uploads or to replace uploads? The url im looking for is http://mydomain/media/image.png. Can’t figure it out.

      Any help for anyone is much appreciated

  10. Like many other commenters, I wanted a way to store my media uploads in the same directory as my WordPress install, e.g. to have WordPress in “mydomain.com/wp/” and to have my media in “mydomain.com/uploads/”. I’ve been able to get this working for me in WordPress 3.5 by adding the following to my theme’s functions.php (or to a plugin):

    if ( empty( $upload_path ) || ‘wp-content/uploads’ == $upload_path ) {
    update_option( ‘upload_path’, untrailingslashit( str_replace( ‘backend’, ‘files’, ABSPATH ) ) );
    update_option( ‘upload_url_path’, home_url( ‘/files’ ) );
    }

    Here’s hoping this gets easier in a future version of WordPress!

    • Update: In the above example, replace “backend” with “wp” (or wherever your WordPress is installed)

    • While this does seem to do the trick just by looking at it, why would you not just add 1 line to your wp-config file instead? Seems like a lot of extra work for the same payoff as this post presents…

      Adding define(‘UPLOADS’,’directory’); is so much easier.

      • Because in wp-includes/functions.php, you have the following 2 scenarios:

        If no particular upload directory is specified:
        $dir = WP_CONTENT_DIR . ‘/uploads’;

        If UPLOADS is defined:
        $dir = ABSPATH . UPLOADS;

        The problem here, which should be obvious, is that ABSPATH != WP_CONTENT_DIR every time. If you have wordpress installed in one directory and point to it with WP_SITEURL, but specify a different directory for wp-content with WP_CONTENT_DIR, suddenly UPLOADS makes no sense, and a simple folder rename becomes impossible without the above hack or a similar one.

        Derek Lapp explains it well here:

  11. I might be completely going about this the wrong way but I am using a multisite install to develop my clients sites… Since i use the code editor in wp-backend i like to use the image uploader as well to get images for css uploaded…

    Which i have created an awesome starter theme which i use widget content sidebar and uploaded images for certain areas like logo spot and even for background images – a “lazy” way of getting images to server..

    I wanted to use relative paths in my css in the case i moved site/theme or change domain names and didn’t want to use the normal wp-content/blog23/files path that is the default image uplaoder path…

    For 1 this lives outside my theme and and i’d like to simply use background: url (‘images/filename.png’) in my css with images i upload via wp-image uploader so that when my theme moves my links/images don’t break and then i plan to ” after site is ready to go live” change the uplaod path back to wp-content/blog23/files

    Just thinking this would make my life easier and of course i am probably overlooking something or being lazy but I promise i am not – I’m new to this… : )

    I changed the upload path inside the site settings but nothing changed? it still uploads to the the blogs files path?

  12. I am not able to get this (as copied from elsewhere in this thread) to work:

    define(‘UPLOADS’, ‘files’);

    It’s in my wp-config,php.

    I want my images in example.com/img

    Any help appreciated.

    Why oh why do they even bother to change things like this. It was SUCH a useful feature.

    • Solved the problem. When I copied the code from this page, the quotes were of the “fancy” variety. When I made them plain, the code worked.

      Thanks for this.

  13. This is the kind of change that software developers make as they lose touch with their users.

    The explanation I read for removing this option is that few people used it, and it makes the UI cleaner. What nonsense.

  14. I want to the path of my files to be example.com/files

    Just to make the back-end more polish and hide the fact that I use WordPress.

    My question is, will I face any issues if I applied this method in the future? Next WordPress updates or moving the site to another host…etc?

    Is it dangerous?

        • Your question was will you face any issues, and our response was answering that. We don’t know because so many things can change, but if you do face any issues, then you are responsible for that.

        • @Josef

          Updates have never affected my sites using this method. If you change hosts, just make sure the directory you specified in your config file remains consistent with the directory holding the actual files and you won’t have any problems.

          I changed hosts one time & decided to rename my upload directory… After moving the images into the new directory I had broken links to all the images & files with the old directory name. It was a pain to go into the database and update the paths of the broken links.

          Just stay consistent.

  15. Hi there,

    Question, how can I customize upload directory per user?
    Is there an plugin available for that requirements?

    Thanks!

  16. Pro tip: you don’t need to prepend empty strings to strings. ;)

    define(‘UPLOADS’, ”.’files’);

    should be:

    define(‘UPLOADS’, ‘files’);

    WordPress source code is junky enough as it is….

  17. I noticed that after the upgrade to 3.5.1 the media uploader did not work at all. (Still does not work)

    also some plugins seem to use the conventional “wp-content/uploads” instead of constants or settings…

    that is really a problem, I cannot use the media uploader….

    • I added the constant to the wp-config. the media-upload is uploading to the defined folder, but the media-input when editing a post, is not working at all, empty, no reaction when clicking…

      what a nerve…

    • You will always run into issues with plugins when you do this. This option is not meant to be used by avg. users. When using it, you need to have a good enough reason to do so.

      Admin

  18. Am I the only one who thinks that maybe the “upload” folder is fine, but the best organization shouldn’t be nor years or months, but the slug of the post/page in which the file is contained? Not the title, but the slug! This maybe could create problems with a single image used in 2 posts/pages, though. But I never use an image in 2 different places…

  19. Please Help…
    I am okay with the default upload folder, but I am unable to upload any file in that folder without setting its permission to 777. But I feel it could be dangerous. Is there any way around?

  20. In other way, You can use this url /wp-admin/options.php for change uploads directory path. Then find for upload_path is for you input path of your uploads directory. By default is wp-content/uploads. You can chage to wp-content/files for directory files under wp-content. Or you can chage to files for directory files in the same level path with wp-content.

    If you want to store media in sub domain. You must input url of your sub domain in upload_url_path and then point your sub domain to path of upload directory in above.

    After you change this. You must rename old directory name to new directory name or move all files and directories in old directory to new directory. If you don’t do that. Files not found.

    hope this useful and sorry for my english.

    • You *COULD* do this, it will work, but you are altering a core file. This has a big potential to break when updating WP. Better to alter the wp-config file as suggested here as it is NOT touched during an update.

  21. I thought I was onto something here. I have a WP setup with 12 sites. It’s brand new. One of the sites is perfectly fine but the others we can not get the uploaded pictures/documents to show up. They are being referenced in a folder that does not exist. Rather than typing all of this here you can ready the thread at WordPress at http://wordpress.org/support/topic/pictures-do-not-display-3?replies=5. The thread has gone cold but I am in desperate need of help and any would be appreciated.

  22. Same as the above, i have tried to install 3.5 on a few new sites and what ever i do i can’t change to a sub domain. Again does any one know how to change the media upload to a sub domain?

  23. thanks for Posting. I think i am missing something though because I want to use your example to add images to a root directory, example: “http://mydomain/images”

    And based on your example what I am doing is enterring it as this:
    define ( ‘UPLOADS’, ‘http://mydomain/images’ ‘.’files’ );

    problem is, my media now shows the address as “http://otherdomain/http://mydomain/images” so basically the media is still staying on the current domain and not moving outside the domain to a root directory.

    hopefully I made sense there. Any advice?

    • What you have done is not consistent with the example provided. The example provided sets the directory location/path only, not URI.

      You are including the scheme (http://) which is not appropriate, and furthermore, breaks things, when configuring the uploads directory/location.

      You, presumably, are additionally wanting to define the URI for uploads, as well.

      Others in the comments seem to be asking the same thing.

      — e.g. How do I upload and server uploads/media from a subdomain?

      Note there are two location specifications for uploads/media:

      1. Uploads directory/location.

      2. URI.

      The Uploads directory/location can be specified as a constant as follows:

      define( ‘UPLOADS’, ”.’files’ );

      That would provide for uploading and referencing files, via the default domain, as follows:

      (example) http://domain.tld/files

      This only sets the directory path/location, NOT the sub/domain.

      2. URI

      The URI is the full URL/path to get to/access uploads, prepended to the UPLOADS constant (#1 above).

      This, unfortunately, and oddly, is not available to define as a constant. However, it can be set via filter (wp_upload_dir), or by directly editing the database table entry.

      The database table entry location is as follows:

      Database/ wp_options/ upload_url_path

      * Note by editing upload_path and or upload_path_url in the database, you will re-enable the front-end UI for managing those fields going forward, as before, via the WordPress Admin/ Media/ Uploading Files section.

      For those wishing to host media via sub/other-domain, you might modify the upload_url_path similar to as follows:

      database/ wp_options/ upload_url_path:
      (example) http://mycdn.mydomain.tld

      Of course, you’ll need to configure your web server(s) to properly point the sub/domain to the corresponding location/directory to serve from.

      Hope this helps.

  24. great post, the define isnt heavily documented, so its great someone is posting about it, i had a few clients who had their uploads in /pics and /images so this wasnt doable via 3.5 without the define for new installs.

  25. Hi. Thanks for this. But I need the images saved outside of my wordpress site..

    ex:

    public_html/site /// this is my wordpress site
    public_html/media /// this is where i want to save all images instead.

    TIA

    • I’d like to know the same thing, if is it possible to put the upload folder OUTSIDE wordpress root.

      • You need to change the upload_url_path which was mentioned further up but it involves changing one of the wordpress core files.

        There is a nice plugin posted just a few posts up which will do it all for you.

        You can uninstall the plugin once you have made your changes to. :)

    • You can define in your wp-config a media host

      define (‘MEDIA_HOST’, ‘http://media.yourdomain.com’);

  26. I’m not really happy with this change because my WordPress uses a subdomain to serve the uploaded media. This still works after the upgrade, but it’s not available any more on new blogs..

    Without the two field to set the upload directory and path to download, I can only serve them from the same domain as WP, and not a cookieless domain as I want.

    • One can still seth both path and URI via their respective database entries.

      It’s not as elegant as using a constant define but it’s just as easy and accessible for most that are considering mucking with such settings.

      • My site is completely https. Every slideshow plugin I have tried inserts the URL provided to the image to display it. The problem is any page that uses a slideshow is reported as having non-secure content. There appears to be no way to edit the URL in the slideshow(s) or on the Media pages. How do I edit a URL to make slideshows secure?

      • Try WP Original Media Path. This plugin will change the path and all existing file paths in one fell swoop.

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