How to use FTP to upload files to WordPress for Beginners

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If you’re looking for a fast and effective way to upload files to your website from your computer, then you’ll definitely want to check out how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress. FTP, File Transfer Protocol, is one of the best ways to do exactly that. 

Even if you’re a beginner and have never heard of FTP until this very moment, don’t worry— it’s very simple once you know how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress, and you’ll be able to do it in a breeze. 

We’ll start with some basic information about FTP and then get into the process. Let’s get started. 

how to use ftp to upload files in wordpress

What is FTP?

FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. You can use FTP to transfer your computer files to your website hosting account. It can be used to exchange files between computer accounts, access online archives, as well as share files between an account and desktop computer, which is, in this case, your website hosting account. 

FTP isn’t something that you may come across as you begin creating your own website, or even having one for a while. So how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress?

Why use an FTP instead of the WP dashboard

You may be wondering— why do I need FTP? There is already a way to upload images, audio, video, PDFs, and many other file types! 

While that’s true, you’ll still want to know how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress in case there is an error on your website or in the event that some files won’t work directly on the uploader. 

You won’t always need to use FTP files, and they can typically be easily uploaded directly from the WordPress admin area, including plugins and WordPress themes directly from the platform itself. 

You may need FTP, however, if you have to upload a plugin or theme file manually due to an error or unsupported element. When you need it for troubleshooting issues, knowing how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress is a lifesaver. Let's see how it works.

Using FTP to Upload WordPress Files

The first thing you need to do is download and install an FTP client on your computer. This is an app that will allow you to connect to your website and use FTP to transfer files. 

The most popular FTP clients include: 

Our tutorial will outline how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress with FileZilla, but you can choose whichever FTP client you like, as the basic process and concepts are the same across software.

Connecting To Your WordPress Site Using FTP

Upon opening your FTP software, you’ll need to connect to your website using your FTP login credentials, and this is the first vital step in how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress. 

You can find your FTP login credentials sent to you via email after you signed up with your WordPress hosting provider. Locate this email to get the information to link your account to the FTP client. 

This information can also be found in your hosting account cPanel dashboard; if you aren’t sure, you can likely find the information in your WordPress hosting provider’s knowledge base. They may also have additional information there about how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

If you’ve looked around and still can’t find the information anywhere, contact your hosting provider directly to obtain the information.

After getting the login information, open FileZilla and navigate to File > Site Manager.

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress site manager

Clicking here will launch a pop-up window that allows you to add your website information. Simply click New Site and provide a website title. 

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress new site in FileZilla

The next thing to do in how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress is to enter your host, which is typically your domain name. In the Logon Type field, choose normal, and enter your FTP username and password as provided by your host. 

Click Connect and you’ll continue to the next step. FileZilla will retain this information and save your website settings when you log in again, opening a new FTP connection to your site without having to do this process again. 

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress FileZilla unknown certificate

If it’s the first time you complete this setup process, you’ll see an unknown certificate popup to alert you. 

You can select Always trust certificate in future sessions so that you can bypass the popup in the future; click OK to continue. 

Once you do that, FileZilla will try to login to your website with the credentials you provided. Once it successfully connects, you’ll see all of the files and folders on the right hand side under the Remote Site column, taking us to the next step in how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress remote site FileZilla

Here in the remote site column you’ll see all files and folders on your website; the left side, local site, shows files from your computer. 

You will use the left Local site in order to find the files on your computer that you want to upload to your website. This is the next step in how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress. Once you locate the file, right-click on it and select Upload from the menu. 

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress FileZilla upload

FireZilla will then transfer the file to your WordPress site from your computer. It’s a pretty simple process, but not all files will work. 

WordPress needs particular files and/or folders in specific places or it won’t function correctly. You can’t upload it anywhere to your website, you need to upload it to the correct spot on your WordPress. 

For instance, if you want to upload a plugin manually to your WordPress site, you’ll need to download it to your computer, unzip the file, and find the plugin folder. WordPress will connect to plugins in the /wp-content/plugins folder. 

Visit that folder in the Remote site column, and then you can upload the plugin folder from your local device into your WordPress site. This is one of the most important things about how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress, you must know the location that WordPress requires in order for it to work. 

After you upload the plugin, you can visit the plugin page inside your WordPress admin dashboard and activate the plugin. 

The same works for premium themes; download the file, unzip it, find the theme folder, and upload it to /wp-content/themes/ in the remote column of FileZilla. 

If you want to download files from your website, you can do that too— right-click on the file you want to download and save it to your computer. 

how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress FileZilla Download htaccess

You can use FTP to backup your whole WordPress site as well. Select all the files and folders in the remote column and download them. 

This will only backup your WordPress files, and none of your content or database will be included. If you want a more comprehensive backup, you can check out some of the best WordPress backup plugins or see what kind of support your WordPress hosting service provides. 

WordPress FTP FAQ

And that’s it! Now that you know how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress, we’ll give you a brief overview and answer three of the most common questions about FTP and WordPress. If you have any other questions, drop us a line in the comments and we’ll get back to you! 

Can I use FTP with WordPress? 

If you know how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress, you can absolutely use FTP with WordPress. As you can see from our guide, it’s a fairly simple process, and once you get your website connected to an FTP client like FileZilla, you’ll be able to move files directly from your computer to your website.  

How Do I Access WordPress via FTP? 

You can’t access FTP directly from the WordPress dashboard, but it’s easy to learn how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress using an FTP client like FireZilla, or any other that you feel comfortable with. We’ll show you a quick 4-step connection overview: 

  • Step 1: backup your WordPress site— if you accidentally delete or mess with anything, you want to have a backup!
  • Step 2: Install FileZilla
  • Step 3: Connect your site to FileZilla 

Step 4: Manage your WordPress files, get access to your .htaccess file, or upload new files

What is an Example of FTP? 

Because File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a simple set of rules that your computer users to transfer and manage files, it doesn’t have any explicit examples; the best examples would be either the type of files you’re transferring, such as plugins or themes, or even the FTP clients that help you gain access to your WordPress files, like FileZilla, WinSCP, Cyberduck, and more.

We hope that you enjoyed learning how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress. Do you have any other questions about FTP, enhancing your site security with .htaccess or how to boost WordPress speed and performance? Let us know in the comments!

By Bobby L

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By Bobby L

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