3 Common WordPress FTP Upload Errors and How to Fix Them

There are a few common errors which occur a lot when trying to upload a WordPress site via FTP to your server. These errors go beyond entering your host, username, password, and port number incorrectly, but cause similar errors.

If the only files you can connect to via FTP are your local ones, or your FTP client disconnects frequently, then you’re going to want to take a seat and pay some attention for the next couple of minutes.

In this Weekend WordPress Project we’ll look at the fixes available for the three most common FTP issues.

WordPress FTP errors
Find out how to fix FTP errors when uploading your site to your server.

1. I Can’t Connect at All

You’ve tried to connect, you’ve double checked the information you’ve entered is correct, but you still can’t connect, what gives?

Check your settings: Are you in passive, or active mode?

I’ll use FileZilla as an example to show you what you’re looking for and how to find it.

First, click on “Edit” on the top menu, then select “Settings.”

FileZilla's settings screen under Connection > FTP: Passive and Active Mode

Select the “FTP” page under “Connection” on the left menu of the pop up to show whether you are in passive or active transfer mode.

If you are in passive mode (which is the default), then switch to active mode, or vice versa.

FileZilla settings under Connection > Passive mode

Follow this by this clicking on the “Passive mode” page under “Connection” in the menu, and select the “fall back to active mode” option. If it’s already selected, choose the other setting, “use the server’s external IP address instead”. Only choose the latter option if you selected passive mode on the previous page.

Don’t forget to click “OK” on the bottom left of the settings window to save your changes. Afterwards, try to connect again. You should be up and running now.

2. “Too Many Connections” Error

If you’re finding that you can connect to your server perfectly fine, but you keep disconnecting while trying to upload or download files, there could be several reasons for it.

If you’re receiving an error stating you have too many connections, or something along those lines, then it’s entirely possible that your server configurations are set to a low number of allowable connections for FTP access.

Before we start with this fix, make sure you abort your current FTP session before continuing. If you don’t, you’ll be working on this fix for hours.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll use WHM (Web Host Manager) as an example for fixing this issue.  Log in to your WHM, and navigate from the homepage to “Service Configuration,” to “FTP Server Configuration.”

Increase the numbers in both boxes for maximum connections, and maximum connections per IP address. As long as these numbers are higher than they were previously, you should be fine. I usually set this to 100 just to be on the safe side. Don’t forget to hit “Save” at the bottom of the page.

The FTP Server Configuration page under Service Configuration menu item in WHM

If you don’t have root access to your server, then contact your site’s administrator or your web hosting company. Explain the issue to them, and they’ll help you out.

Now it’s time to clear your current connections manually. I’ll demonstrate how to do this in cPanel. Navigate to the files section, then select the “FTP Session Control” button.

On the page that loads, close all the listed connections by clicking the red “X” button on the right-hand side of each line. Clicking the reload button will refresh the list, so you can be sure you got them all.

This is the part where closing your current FTP session is crucial, as I advised earlier. If you keep your session going, you’ll find more, and more connections keep popping up every time you hit “reload”. Not fun.

In cPanel, navigate to Files > FTP Session Control in order to close connections manually

There very well may be several connections to close. This is normal, especially if you’re having this particular problem.  Be sure to clear every last single connection.

Now head back over to your FTP client. I’m using FileZilla in this next screenshot. Click “Edit” in the menu, the select “Settings.” Click the “Transfers” page in the menu that pops up.

In FileZilla, access the Transfers page to change the number of simultaneous connections

On the right-hand side, make sure the “Maximum simultaneous transfers” is set to a low number. Typically, this is set to either 1 or 2. Don’t forget to save the changes by clicking “OK.”

At this point, you’re ready to connect through FTP and attempt to upload or download some files. You should be good to go.

If you find you’re still having issues, try going back to the “Transfer” page, and set the limit for concurrent downloads, and uploads to about five or 10, and see if that helps. This usually isn’t necessary, but it does help in the odd case. Other than that, your file transfers should be humming along perfectly now.

3. File Transfer Error When Uploading

If you find that you receive an often vague error when trying to upload files, most of the time it’s caused by your server reaching its maximum file upload size.

Luckily, it’s a simple fix if you have root access to your server. If you don’t, then you’ll have to contact your web hosting company, or your site’s administrator to make these changes.

For congruency, I’ll show you how to do this in WHM. Navigate to “Server Configuration” in the menu, then to the “PHP Configuration Editor” page. Select the “advanced mode” radio button at the top of the page.

WHM > Service Configuration > PHP Configuration Editor in advanced mode

Scroll down on this page and find the “post_max_size” and “upload_max_filesize” values. Increase the number in the box on the right to whatever number with which you feel comfortable. Just keep in mind that if you set this number too high, you run the risk of exceeding your hosting plan’s allotted disk space.

I set both these values to 3000M, for 3,000MB. It’s a fairly high number, but I know I have enough disk space to cover it. A more typical and often sufficient number is around 120M to 320M.

Don’t forget to hit “Save” at the bottom of the page once you’re done here. After that’s complete, you can try uploading your files again. You should find that it works. If not, check the size of your files, and make sure you set the above values high enough to accommodate the files you’re trying to upload.

Your Hail Mary Pass

It’s entirely possible that you’ll need to follow all three of these steps in order to reach the end result of a successful file transfer. If none of these solutions work, then it very well might be time to contact your web hosting company to help you, as they may be having server issues on their end.

It’s also important to check if your website is available to view publicly. If it’s not, then you have other more pressing issues to deal with first. If this is the case, check out the similar posts below to find the solutions you will likely need.

Other than that, you’ve got just about everything you need to transfer your awesome WordPress site, error-free. Happy file transferring!

Image credit: Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0.