How to bulk upload files to WordPress via FTP + other methods

Are you struggling with bulk uploading files to WordPress via FTP? Sometimes you’re dealing with so many images that a regular WordPress media library uploader doesn’t interrupt it.

Or you can work with a file that is so large that you can’t upload it with the Media Library Uploader without reaching the maximum upload limit. Some WordPress sites actually have a upload limit of just 2 MB, which can easily exceed high-resolution images.

Whether you’re trying to upload hundreds of images or just a few large files, FTP often provides easier access than if you try to do so through your WordPress panel.

But here’s the problem:

As you may have noticed, you can’t just upload files to your server and start using them right away on your WordPress site. Do not worry. There’s still a way to do it – and I’ll show you how!

Why don’t you see the files you upload to WordPress via FTP?

If you’ve already tried to upload files to your WordPress media library via FTP, you may be confused why the files aren’t appearing in your media library.

Here is the agreement:

In order to use media files on your WordPress panel, those files must actually be registered with WordPress.

When you upload files via FTP, you upload them to the server, but you won’t do anything to actually register them on your WordPress site. To register them on your WordPress site and actually start using them in your media library, you need to take a few more steps.

The whole process:

How to bulk upload files to WordPress via FTP

To make it as useful as possible, I’ll start by actually uploading files to your server via FTP.

If you have already uploaded the files to the server via FTP, you can click here to go directly to step 3, where you will actually register these files on your WordPress website.

Step 1: Connect to your site via FTP

To connect to your site via FTP you will need:

  • Your FTP username and password – if you don’t know them yet, you can get them from your host (see the host’s documentation or support for more information).
  • FTP programFileZilla is a good free choice and what I will use for my tutorial screenshots.

Once you have these two things, open an FTP program and enter your credentials at the top:

how to connect to ftp

What the different input fields mean:

  • Host – The actual URL of your site (or the IP address of your server)
  • Username – The username for your FTP account that you will receive from your host
  • Password – The password for your FTP account that you get from your host
  • Port – You can usually leave this as the default, but sometimes your host will specify a different port

Once you’ve successfully connected to your site, you should see something like this:

how to find a folder to upload

Step 2: Upload the files to the wp-content / uploads folder

To upload files to your WordPress site, you need to go to wp-content / uploads folder on your server.

To do this, use the folder tree in your FTP program:

uploads a folder

You can now either upload the files directly to this folder, or you can:

  • Use data folders that WordPress automatically creates
  • Create your own folder

It doesn’t really matter if you upload your files to the upload folder or its subfolder.

To upload files, simply drag them from Local site map on Remote site bookmark:

how to bulk upload files to wordpress via ftp

Step 3: Install the Add Free module from the server

At this point, the files you want to upload should be on your server. However, if you try to find them in your media library, you won’t find them anywhere:

no files in the library

Let’s fix it! To register uploaded files you need a free plugin called Add from server.

It is listed on WordPress.org, so you can install it directly from the taskbar by searching for it:

add plugin from server

Step 4: Import the files into the WordPress media library using the Add from Server feature

After installing and activating the Add from Server plugin, go to Media → Add from server to access its interface.

Initially, you should see a list of all the folders / files in your wp-content folder. Tap to view upload / component:

find a folder to upload

Then go to the folder where you uploaded your files via FTP.

Once you are in this folder, you should see a list of all the files you have uploaded via FTP:

import files

Use the checkboxes to select:

  • All files
  • Individual files

Then click on the icon Import knob:

import files

Depending on how many files you have, the process may take a while. But once it’s over, you should see a message of success. And you’ll also notice that you now have all the default WordPress image sizes in the folder:

success report

And that’s all! You can now start using these files in your media library:

files in the media library

Use WP-CLI as an alternative to adding from the server

This method is not suitable for beginners. But if you are a developer and / or familiar with WP-CLI, you can actually use WP-CLI commands to register files on the server to your media library.

Specifically, you will need to use the wp media import command.

The nice thing about this method is that it gives you a little more flexibility than Add from Server. With it you can:

  • Automatically assign a file, title, caption, or alternate text
  • Attach files to a specific post
  • Import files from other websites into your media library (as opposed to just files on your own server)

And you can also use Regex to programmatically select only files that meet specific criteria.

If you are technically proficient to use this method, you will need:

Another solution for bulk uploading files to WordPress

If you can’t connect to your site via FTP, there are two other solutions for uploading files to your WordPress site.

They are not as flexible as the FTP method mentioned above, but in some cases they may still be more convenient than using a regular WordPress Media Library.

Use the cPanel File Manager And Add From Server Plugin

As an alternative to FTP, you can also upload files using the cPanel File Manager if your host uses cPanel.

This is not a great choice for bulk uploading files, but it can be useful if you have a large file that exceeds the upload limits of your WordPress site.

To get to it, take a look at File manager option on the cPanel:

cpanel file manager

Then you can use record file upload button (only one by one, which is why this method is not suitable for bulk uploading):

how to upload files using cpanel file manager

Once you upload the files to your wp-content / uploads folders, you can use Add from Server to actually import them into your WordPress site.

Use the Upload Media by Zip Plugin

As another alternative, Upload Media by Zip is a free plugin that allows you to upload ZIP files directly to your WordPress media library.

This plugin won’t help with large files (or exceeding your WordPress upload limit), but it’s a handy way to bulk upload lots of smaller files.

It basically allows you to upload one ZIP folder containing a lot of different images. It then opens the ZIP folder, extracts all these images (or other media files) and adds them to your media library.

To use it, install and activate the free plugin.

Then you get a new one Upload and extract the ZIP archive button in WordPress editor:

upload a ZIP file to your WordPress media library

When you click on it:

  • Select the ZIP file on your computer
  • Select whether to delete the ZIP file after the process is complete
  • Click on Upload and extract start the process

1602150700 92 How to bulk upload files to WordPress via FTP

Then you should see a success report and also the option to include these files in your post:

1602150700 91 How to bulk upload files to WordPress via FTP

Enjoy more flexible file uploads

If you want the benefits of both:

  • Bulk upload lots of files
  • Upload files that exceed your WordPress upload limit

Then the FTP method I spent most of the article will be your best bet. Remember – here’s everything you need to do:

  • Upload files to recording folder via FTP
  • Import the files into the media library using the Add from Server plugin

However, if for some reason you can’t use FTP, you can also use two other limited options:

  • The cPanel file manager is suitable for uploading one large file
  • The Upload Media by Zip plugin is suitable for uploading lots of small files at once (remember – it’s still limited by the maximum upload limit of your WordPress site)

And while we’re talking about images, you might also be interested in some tools to help you work with images or optimize them for performance.

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