There are many scenarios where you may want to download your entire WordPress media library. Maybe you’re creating a manual backup, or perhaps you need to migrate your media files to a new website.

In any case, this tutorial covers exactly how to download your entire WordPress media library, saving a local copy of every file you’ve uploaded to your website.

There are two main ways to accomplish this: you can either use a plugin, or download your files via FTP. We’ll walk through both of these methods below.

How To Download Your WordPress Media Library Using A Plugin

The simplest way to download your WordPress media library is by using a plugin.

Specifically, you’ll want to install and activate the Export Media Library plugin.

Once you’ve activated it, you’ll notice a new “Export” option under the Media section of the WordPress menu:

On this page, you have a couple of options to configure.

First, you can specify your preferred folder structure. This determines whether you get a single folder containing all of your media files, or a folder containing nested folders by upload date.

You can also choose whether you’d like to compress the folder. Enabling compression will decrease the size of the ZIP download, but it requires more processing by your server. If you have a large media library, compressing the folder may temporarily slow down your website—but if you don’t compress it, it will take longer to download.

Once you’re satisfied with your choices, simply click “Download Zip” to begin the download.

When it’s complete, you’ll have a ZIP folder containing all of your WordPress media files, which you can then extract and use as you wish.

How To Download Your WordPress Media Library Using FTP

If you have any issues with the plugin, or if you’d just prefer to download your WordPress media library manually, you can do so via FTP.

WordPress stores your media files in the /wp-content/uploads directory. By default, that directory is divided into subdirectories based on the year and month of the upload. For example, images uploaded in February 2020 will be located in /wp-content/uploads/2020/02.

I’ve found the simplest approach is to download the entire uploads folder, and reorganize the files later if necessary.

Start by opening your favorite FTP client, such as FileZilla, and log in using the FTP credentials provided by your web host.

On the server side, navigate to the root directory of your WordPress site. By default, this is usually public_html. On the local side, navigate to the folder on your computer where you’d like to save your WordPress media files.

Next, on the server side, navigate to /wp-content.

From here, you can drag and drop the entire uploads folder to the local side. (Alternatively, you can right-click uploads and select “Download.”)

Depending on the size of your media library, this may take a while.

Once the download is complete, you’ll have a full copy of your entire WordPress media library.

Things To Be Aware Of

A quick word of warning: depending on your server, your Internet connection, and the size of your media library, downloading all of your media files can take a long time, and it may impact your site’s performance during the process.

There’s not much you can do to prevent this, but I’d recommend downloading during off-peak hours if possible—and of course, this isn’t something you’ll want to do frequently.

Another thing to keep in mind is that WordPress automatically generates multiple scaled versions of every image you upload, e.g. “large,” “medium,” “thumbnail,” etc. Don’t be surprised if you end up with significantly more files than the number of images listed in your media library.

Those scaled images are denoted with dimensions at the end of their filenames. For example, image.jpg may have a scaled version called image-300x300.jpg.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re creating a backup, migrating a website, or simply want to have a local copy of your WordPress media files, I hope this tutorial has been helpful!

If you have any questions about downloading your WordPress media library, please feel free to leave a comment below.