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How to Use FTP to Upload Files to WordPress

Are you interested in learning how to upload files to your WordPress website using FTP?

FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is a fast and easy way to upload files from your computer to your website.

In this beginner’s guide, you will learn how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress. We will also provide a basic explanation of what FTP is, the software needed, and how to download files from WordPress using FTP.

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If you’d like to jump to the section you’re looking for, a hyperlinked table of contents is available.

What is FTP?

If you own a website, you may have heard about FTP and wondered if you should be using it.

FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is the standard way to transfer files from your computer to your web hosting server.

FTP allows you to manage your website’s files by connecting to the web hosting server your website is on. You can also use it to download files. This comes in handy for backing up your website, including adding, editing, or removing files.

Software called an FTP Client is used to establish a connection to your website’s web server. Once a connection is made, you will have the ability to upload files from your computer and download files from your website to your computer.

You may be wondering why you need to use FTP when you can already upload files like media files, themes, and plugins from the WordPress admin area.

FTP is useful because it gives you a way to access your website even when it has a problem. For example, when you are troubleshooting problems with your WordPress site, you can use it to upload theme files, plugins, and even code files manually.

Choosing FTP Software

First, you will need to find, download, and install an FTP Client onto your computer. An FTP Client is a software application used to connect to your website’s server to transfer files using the FTP protocol.

There are lots of different FTP Clients across the internet. Doing a simple web search can yield many results. Some of the most popular free ones are WinSCP for Windows, Cyberduck for MAC, and the cross-platform FileZilla.

In this guide, we will be using the free and open-source FileZilla. But once you understand the basic concepts of using FTP to connect to your website, it will be similar in other applications regardless.

How to Connect to Your WordPress site using FTP

To connect to your website securely, FTP requires a username and password. So when you open your FTP software, you will need to enter your FTP login credentials.

What you will need:

  • Host
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port

Typically your FTP login credentials would have been emailed to you when you created your web hosting account. If your web hosting provider uses cPanel, you can also find this information under FTP Accounts. Otherwise, you will need to look around your web hosting dashboard for FTP.

cPanel FTP accounts

And if you are still having trouble finding your FTP information, reach out to your web hosting provider and ask for it. They should be happy to help you.

Once you have your FTP credentials, go ahead and open the FileZilla Client software.

First select File > Site Manager from the File menu.

FileZilla Site Manager

Next, you should see a popup window. This is where you will add your website information. So click on the New Site button and type in your website’s name.

FileZilla Site create new website

Now it’s time to enter your FTP login credentials. In the Protocol section, select SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) if your hosting provider supports it, otherwise go ahead and select FTP.

NOTE: When it’s possible, always use SFTP instead of FTP. SFTP is a more secure way to connect to your web server.

Now enter the name of your Host, which is often your domain name, then a port number. Port 21 for FTP connections and port 22 for SFTP. For Logon Type, select Normal, then enter your FTP username and password.

FileZilla Site FTP login

Once you have entered all of your FTP login credentials, go ahead and click the Connect button to continue. FileZilla will then save your website settings and open a connection to your website.

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

FileZilla Site manager certificate connection

To stop this from popping up in the future, check the ‘Always trust this host’ box. Then click on the OK button to continue.

FileZilla will now attempt to log in to your website using the credentials you provided. Once a connection is established, you will see two columns of files and folders.

FileZilla local and remote file lists

The left column shows a list of your computer’s local files, while the right shows a list of remote files on your website. This layout lets you easily transfer files to and from your website.

How to Use FTP to Upload Files to WordPress

Now that you know how to connect to your website using FTP, you can learn how to upload files to your website.

First, you need to navigate to the folder or files you want to upload to your website. Do this in the left Local site column that contains your local files.

Next, you need to navigate to the folder you want to upload to in the Remote site column on the right by clicking on it.

Once you are ready, right-click on the file or folder in the left column you want to upload and select Upload from the menu.

FileZilla Upload Files

FileZilla will then upload the file from your computer to your website. It will create a copy so that the original version stays on your computer.

That’s all it takes to upload files to your WordPress website using FTP. However, there are a few things to be aware of when uploading files to your WordPress site using FTP.

WordPress expects to find certain files and folders in specific locations. Uploading a file to the wrong folder location may cause a problem.

For example, if you want to upload media files using FTP, they need to be uploaded to /wp-content/uploads/. WordPress themes should be uploaded to the /wp-content/themes/ folder and WordPress plugins should be uploaded to the /wp-content/plugins folder.

To learn more about installing themes and plugins using FTP, we recommend reading:

How to Use FTP to Download Files from WordPress

Not only can you use FTP to upload files to your website, but you can also download files from your WordPress site so you can edit them.

Just like we did in the previous sections, log in to your web server.

Next, navigate to the folder you want to download to in the left Local site column.

Then navigate to the file or folder you want to download in the right Remote site column.

Once you’re ready, right-click the file or folder and select Download from the menu.

FileZilla Download Files

The file or folder will be copied and transferred to the folder you are viewing in the left Local site column.

You can also backup your WordPress site by selecting all files and folders then downloading them to your computer.

But be aware that doing so is not a complete backup of your WordPress site. All of your WordPress content is stored in a database, not the files from your website.

To do a backup of your content, you need to do a manual backup of your database.

Wrapping Up!

Using FTP to upload and download files is easy once you understand the process. Remember, always use SFTP when possible because it is more secure. Make sure you upload files and folders to the correct location.

Finally, it is best practice to keep a folder on your computer that is the same name as your Remote site folder to keep things easy and organized. That way you are not just downloading and uploading from random folders.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to use FTP to upload files to WordPress.

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at TarttWeb is a group of passionate people that love to help others, led by Jeff Tartt.

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