Adding large files to WordPress media library via ftp or file upload

Adding large files to WordPress media library via ftp or file upload

While working on WordPress project with a client today we ran into an interesting problem.

Our client had a 30mb audio MP3 file they wanted to host on their website for playback by anyone who registered for the free newsletter.

The page was hidden and re-directed after successful newsletter registration. Of course this page and MP3 can be found by search engines so if this is a problem for your situation and you don't want people finding your hidden files don’t host your MP3 or any large file in this manner!

WordPress support for large files

There are numerous was to create a link, to a large file in a page.

Adding large files to WordPress media library via ftp or file upload 1

Or you can add a plugin to host, stream or play the MP3 files in WordPress.

Some of you reading this will think they are crazy for hosting a large file and worry about monthly bandwidth limits?

They have an unlimited account and we aren’t hosting top 40 music files or movies so it’s relative to the hosted content!

The File Upload Problem

The problem was the client couldn’t upload the MP3 file via the WordPress Media Library upload.

The PHP limits were restricting large files commonly anything over 8mb???

To get around this problem and avoid PHP editing we helped the client this way:

We logged into the website cPanel and simply clicked on “File manager.”


Next you double click on sub-folders or click the plus in the folder structure to dig down to the WordPress content library. The window will be open in the right pane.

example: ../wp-content/uploads/2010/2 (of course your year and month will change with the date you upload)


With the folder open on the right next click “Upload” in the top toolbar.


You will see your maximum file size upload. Often this is greater than the WordPress limits but if it’s less than your file size STOP HERE and contact your web host to increase your limit!


Next simply click Browse and choose your file and upload.

Back to WordPress

Now login to your WordPress Dashboard and add the plugin “Add to Server” from Dion Hulse


Next go to your Media Library in the Dashboard and you’ll see a new link


Next choose Add from Server and you are taken to a file browser similar to file manager in cPanel.

Simply drill down to your directory and choose the file or files and import.

You will now find your files in Media Library!

Adding large files to WordPress media library via ftp or file upload 2

Other considerations

Maybe you have a need to upload a large number of files?

It could be a combination of photos, video, documents or ??

Maybe you want to FTP a bunch of files and then add to the media library instead of uploading one by one in the media library!

If you find any other solutions or ideas please post them here!

57 comments on “Adding large files to WordPress media library via ftp or file upload”

    1. Yes bandwidgth can make a difference in many areas. Your upload speed, the bandwith for your server, bandwidth of your website visitor etc.. I suggest hosting large audio/video files with online providers like YouTube and Viemo so they can manage the bandwidth and you embed the video into your WordPress website.

  1. Hi there,

    I wanted to add a big swf file using WordPress uploader, but I couldn't. I tried your solution step by step but when I pressed import button nothing happened and the file is not added to library!

    could you help me to solve the problem?



    1. Remember to first upload your large SWF file via FTP to your WordPress site under your wp-contents/uploads directory. Then scan for updates and your file will be added to the media library for use in your website.

      Your web hosting company may limit the maxiumum upload file size via WordPress and even vial FTP. If your upload is limited none of these steps will work.

      If your video isn't anything private upload to or and then use the embed code to place in your WPsite vs. trying to host a large video file and paying for the bandwidth usage.

  2. PERFECT. THANKS!! I LOVE a good plugin. I've been looking for a solution for this for a couple weeks now.
    Now I have to do something about the audio quality.

  3. Thanks for the tip on the plugin. I'm working with a theme that uses custom fields for various post images. It uploads them to the media library, but doesn't register them.

    This was a great solution while I'm in development. I'll have to find something easier (or fix the theme's upload process) before I hand the site over to my client.

  4. Thanks for this - I was about to write a plugin to handle scanning the uploads folder for new media until I found your post - very helpful!

  5. I just want to say thanks for helping me out with this... was struggling going down the php route and then found this post through google... works like a charm!

    Chris Rogers
    Bath personal trainer

  6. Hey Bob,
    I was trying many different ways to do this and after about an hour I said hmmmm..I bet I'm not the only one with this problem. So Google search I go and BAM! You solved it.

    Thanks for this post. I'm going to post my problem on my site and link to you.


    1. No problem Carey,

      We've been so busy with projects the past 6 months we are behind on our blog posts. We'll have more tips and tricks in the days and weeks ahead!

  7. Thanks. This is great. Just what I've been looking for.

    I use Filezilla to upload photos and larger wmv's and avi's - I find it much quicker and easier for uploading multiple files than through the CPanel interface.

  8. Ah, so simple ! You guys have nailed a very tricky question with a nice, simple answer. Crikey, have you read some of the other complicated, long-winded answers that have been posted about this topic. Thanks guys.

  9. I noticed the 50mb limit on the file manager, so I called my, my hosting company, to ask what can I do/ I was instructed to use "unlimited ftp" with (no additional charge)... and it work. Thanks 🙂

  10. Thank you SO much for this! I was getting entirely TOO frustrated with this issue. I did a Google search and this came up right when I was at my wits end. I appreciate you taking the time to share the solution, it's working perfect for me ... also, too, for adding that plugin--> add from server.

    I'm so relieved!

    God bless!

  11. Great plugin, needed to add the image files to Media Library and this did the trick but I have now got more files than I started with???? It has seemed to have made different sized thumb nails of some of the images for some strange reason. At least they're in the same folders as before.

    Many thanks, will use this plugin again.

  12. I've been looking for a solution to this problem for several days now. This is the only one I've seen that actually solves my problem for my brand new blog. I don't need to look any further. Thanks you so much.

  13. I have been looking for Media Folder in FTP. After reading this post only I came to know about the exact location 🙂

  14. I thank sweet Jesus for leading me to your article. And thank you for solving my problem! God bless you!

  15. Your instructions were easy-to-follow and the solution worked flawlessly. I was able to successfully upload a .mp3 file of a radio interview. Thank you!

  16. What about categories? I have a client who wants to bulk upload images, but also at the same time, assign them to specific categories.

  17. Thanks for this post. I tied many plugins for large video format and non worked. Uploading from the FTP worked great! Thanks!

  18. Howdy! I could have sworn I've been to your blog before but after going through a few of the posts I realized it's new to me.
    Nonetheless, I'm certainly pleased I came across it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking
    back often!

  19. SWEET 🙂 Okay okay, unfortunately there are two issues.

    The first: if I have ftp'd the image and already put it in a blog post, while Add From Server will add to media library, wordpress will still see it as unattached which means I would have to manually attach.

    Second: Add From Server has not been updated in a year ... :/ Considering how awesome it is, I hope this plugin gets some attention going forward.

    Fortunately, works on my version of wordpress.

    Thanks for the tip!!!

  20. Ok I have lots and lots of lectures to upload for a Professor. like 200 mps. I want to have a cata log and make them available to anyone who wants to download them for free.

    1. Gregg I'd suggest using WP Download Monitor for your project:

      You can upload your files to folders and have WP Download monitor scan the folder.

      We've set this up on a number of sites, let me know if you need help

  21. hi
    how do i use the plugin but i have folder from
    but the plugin will insert all in
    at destination... how do i reorganize them in same folders?

    1. Sam, just have NextGen scan the existing folders in place, the plugin is for adding files so the media library sees them. If you are using NextGen just have it scan the folder and nothing will change.

  22. Worked beautifully, even though the Add From Server is now a bit old. Thanks so much for the screenshots and clear instructions. Wasted an hour last night and this was easy!

  23. Is this plugin work with multisite, I am trying to upload my media files with this plugin but giving error "2-color-100x100.jpg was not imported due to an error: Unable to create directory uploads/2015/05. Is its parent directory writable by the server?" Can you help how can I resolve this problem?

  24. YES ! Finally, I have been circling around for two days trying to figure this out. Thank you for making the steps so easy!!!!!!

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