Fix WordPress File Permissions

Sep 5, 2023 | Website Maintenance

Are you struggling with file permissions in your WordPress website? If so, you’re not alone. Many WordPress users find themselves facing issues with file permissions, which can cause various problems such as website errors or security vulnerabilities. In this article, we will explore the importance of properly setting file permissions and provide you with easy-to-follow steps to fix them. So, let’s get started and ensure that your WordPress website is running smoothly and securely.

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Table of Contents

Understanding WordPress file permissions

What are file permissions?

File permissions are rules that determine who can read, write, and execute files on a server. These permissions play a crucial role in ensuring the security and proper functioning of your WordPress website.

How does WordPress use file permissions?

WordPress uses file permissions to control various aspects of its functionality. For example, it needs permission to read its core files, write to the uploads folder, and execute certain scripts. By setting appropriate file permissions, you can grant WordPress the necessary access while also preventing unauthorized users from modifying critical files.

Why do WordPress file permissions matter?

WordPress file permissions matter because they directly affect the security and functionality of your website. Setting incorrect or insecure file permissions can leave your site vulnerable to attacks, allow unauthorized users to make unauthorized changes, or result in unexpected errors and issues. It is therefore crucial to understand the different types of file permissions, their recommended values, and how to set them correctly.

Types of File Permissions


The read permission allows a file to be viewed, but not modified. In WordPress, this permission is essential for accessing core files and content. For example, users need read permission to retrieve theme files, plugins, and media files.


The write permission allows a file or directory to be modified, including creating new files or deleting existing ones. WordPress requires write permission for various tasks, such as installing plugins, updating themes, and saving blog posts.


The execute permission allows a file to be executed as a program or script. In WordPress, this permission is necessary for running scripts or accessing certain functionalities. For example, certain caching plugins may require execute permission to optimize your site’s performance.

Execute for group and others

In addition to the three basic permissions, there is also the execute permission for the group and others. This permission can pose security risks if not set properly, as it grants executing privileges to users who are not the file’s owner or in the file’s group.

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Common WordPress file permission values

File permission 644

The file permission 644 is a common value for WordPress files. It grants read permission to the owner and group, while allowing only read access to others. This permission should be set for non-executable files, such as text files or images.

Directory permission 755

The directory permission 755 is commonly assigned to WordPress directories. It provides read, write, and execute permissions to the owner, and read and execute permissions to the group and others. This ensures that plugins, themes, and other directories can be accessed and modified as necessary.

File permission 666

The file permission 666 grants read and write access to the owner, group, and others. This permission is suitable for files that need to be edited by multiple users, such as configuration files.

Directory permission 777

The directory permission 777 allows read, write, and execute access to the owner, group, and others. While this permission can be useful for certain temporary folders, it introduces significant security risks and should generally be avoided.

Identifying wrong file permissions in WordPress

Common error messages

Incorrect file permissions can result in various error messages on your WordPress site. These may include “Permission denied” errors, “Unable to create directory” messages, or issues with uploading media files. Whenever you encounter such errors, it’s essential to check your file permissions.

Using File Manager in cPanel

One way to identify and adjust file permissions is by using the File Manager feature in cPanel. By accessing the root directory of your WordPress installation, you can navigate to individual files and folders, right-click on them, and modify their permissions.

Using an FTP client

Another option is to use an FTP client to connect to your website’s server and manage file permissions. FTP clients such as FileZilla allow you to browse files, view their current permissions, and modify them as needed.

Fix WordPress File Permissions

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Changing file permissions in WordPress

How to change file permissions in cPanel

To change file permissions in cPanel, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your cPanel account.
  2. Navigate to the File Manager.
  3. Locate the file or directory for which you want to modify permissions.
  4. Right-click on the file or directory and select “Change Permissions” or “Permissions”.
  5. Adjust the permission values as needed and click “Change Permissions” or “Save”.

How to change file permissions using an FTP client

To change file permissions using an FTP client:

  1. Connect to your website’s server using the FTP client.
  2. Navigate to the file or directory you want to modify.
  3. Right-click on the file or directory and select “File Permissions” or “Properties”.
  4. Modify the permission values and click “OK” or “Apply”.

Using SSH to update file permissions

If you have SSH access to your server, you can use command-line instructions to update file permissions. This method requires a basic understanding of the command-line interface and the necessary commands, such as chmod.

Using the command line to modify WordPress file permissions

If you prefer working with the command line, you can also modify file permissions using the command-line interface. With commands like chmod, you can adjust permission values for specific files or directories.

Setting correct file permissions in WordPress

Recommended file permissions for directories

The recommended file permission for directories in WordPress is 755. This provides read, write, and execute permissions to the owner and read and execute permissions to the group and others. These permissions allow WordPress and its associated components to function correctly, while still maintaining appropriate security measures.

Recommended file permissions for files

For most files in WordPress, the recommended permission is 644. This grants read access to the owner and group, with read access for others. These permissions allow the WordPress installation and its various components to access and display the file’s content without compromising security.

Restrictive file permissions

In some cases, it may be necessary to set more restrictive file permissions for specific files or directories. This can help mitigate potential security risks by limiting access to certain sensitive files or scripts. However, it is crucial to thoroughly test any restrictive permissions to ensure they do not cause unexpected issues or errors.

Fix WordPress File Permissions

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Fixing file permission errors in WordPress

Dealing with ‘Unable to create directory’ errors

If you encounter an “Unable to create directory” error in WordPress, it is likely due to incorrect file permissions. To fix this issue, you can modify the permissions of the parent directory to allow WordPress to create new directories. Follow the steps outlined earlier for changing file permissions in cPanel or using an FTP client.

Resolving upload issues due to file permissions

Incorrect file permissions can also cause problems with uploading media files to your WordPress site. If you experience upload issues, the first step is to check the permissions of the “wp-content/uploads” directory. Ensure that it has the correct permission value of 755.

Handling ‘Failed to write to disk’ error

The “Failed to write to disk” error typically occurs when WordPress is unable to save changes or create new files. To resolve this issue, you should check the file permissions of the directory where WordPress is attempting to make changes. Adjust the permissions to allow write access, as outlined in the previous sections.

Security considerations when setting WordPress file permissions

Understanding file ownership in WordPress

File ownership in WordPress refers to the user and group assigned to each file. It is important to ensure that the web server’s user (e.g., “www-data” or “apache”) owns the WordPress files and directories. Incorrect file ownership can result in permission errors or unauthorized access to files.

Avoiding granting too many permissions

While it may be tempting to provide excessively permissive file permissions, it is crucial to avoid granting more access than necessary. Giving too many permissions can create security vulnerabilities and increase the risk of unauthorized modifications to your WordPress site.

Effects of file permissions on WordPress backups

File permissions can also affect the process of backing up and restoring your WordPress site. When creating backups, it is important to consider the permission settings. Restoring backups may require resetting file permissions to ensure a successful and secure restoration process.

Role of web hosting provider in file security

Your web hosting provider plays a significant role in file security, as they are responsible for maintaining the server and setting certain default permissions. It is important to choose a reputable hosting provider that prioritizes security and provides guidance on proper file permission settings.

Fix WordPress File Permissions

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WordPress file permissions best practices

Routine checks and updates

To ensure the ongoing security and proper functioning of your WordPress site, it is best practice to regularly check and update file permissions. This involves performing audits to verify that permissions are correctly set and making any necessary adjustments.

Getting support through WordPress community

If you encounter complex file permission issues or require guidance, the WordPress community is an excellent resource. Online forums, discussion boards, and WordPress-specific websites can provide support, tips, and recommendations for fixing specific file permission problems.

Backup and restore policies

Implementing a robust backup policy is essential for protecting your WordPress site and its files. Regularly backing up your website ensures that you have a safe copy of your files in case of unexpected issues or security breaches. Similarly, having a documented restore policy in place can help you regain access to your files quickly and efficiently if needed.

Troubleshooting common WordPress file permission issues

Resolving ‘Forbidden’ errors

“Forbidden” errors often indicate incorrect file permissions, especially when attempting to access certain directories or files. To troubleshoot this issue, check the permissions of the affected files or directories and adjust them as necessary.

Fixing internal server errors due to file permissions

Internal server errors can occur when file permissions are set incorrectly, preventing WordPress from accessing or executing necessary files. To resolve this issue, review the permissions of the affected files and directories and make the appropriate adjustments.

How to handle mixed content errors due to wrong file permissions

Mixed content errors may arise when WordPress attempts to load resources from insecure (HTTP) sources while the site itself is accessed via a secure (HTTPS) connection. While not directly related to file permissions, incorrect permissions can indirectly contribute to this issue. To fix mixed content errors, ensure that all resources, including scripts and images, are loaded securely by updating file and directory permissions as required.

In conclusion, understanding and correctly setting file permissions in WordPress is crucial for maintaining the security and functionality of your website. By following best practices, regularly checking and updating permissions, and seeking support when needed, you can effectively manage file permission-related issues and ensure a secure environment for your WordPress site.

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