WordPress File Permissions 101

Written by WordPress Expert

October 24, 2023
WordPress File Permissions 101

WordPress has more than 5,000 files within a single installation, without any uploads or the theme and plugins you’ve installed. Each one of those files has a specific file permission with given rights to not just allow them to execute code, but also to be secure. In this article you’ll learn some basics on WordPress file permissions.

What are File Permissions?

File permissions are a set of access rights assigned to files and directories on a server. They dictate who can read, write, and execute files or directories. In the context of web hosting, file permissions apply to all the files and folders that constitute your website, including HTML files, images, scripts, and configuration files.

File permissions are typically represented using a three-digit numerical code or symbolic notation. Each permission is assigned a numeric value: read (4), write (2), and execute (1). The sum of these values defines the file permission settings. For instance, a file with read and write permissions but no execution permission would have a permission code of 6 (4 for read + 2 for write + 0 for execute).

Why do you Need to be Concerned About WordPress File Permissions?

Being concerned about WordPress file permissions is super important for several reasons, as they directly impact the security and integrity of your website. Ignoring or mismanaging file permissions can lead to severe security vulnerabilities and potential risks for your site and its users. Here's why someone needs to be concerned about WordPress file permissions:

  • Unauthorized Access to Sensitive Data
  • Protection Against Website Defacement
  • Prevention of Malware Injection
  • Control Over Website Resources
  • Prevention of Privilege Escalation
  • Compliance with Data Protection Laws
  • Securing Uploads and User Content
  • Protection Against Code Injection
  • Safeguarding Server Resources
  • Maintaining Website Performance

Unauthorized Access to Sensitive Data

Insufficient file permissions, like configuration files, databases and user data, can let unauthorized users access confidential files and directories. This capability may be exploited by hackers and criminal operators to obtain important information, affect the security of your web server or possibly gain access to confidential data.

Protection Against Website Defacement

If you do not properly manage file permissions, your website may be defaced by an attacker who modifies its content, replaces it with malicious versions or displays offensive messages. This can have a huge impact on your brand's reputation and could negatively affect user trust.

Prevention of Malware Injection

If the file permissions are not correct, hackers can spread malware or malicious scripts to your website's files. Malware may harm visitors, exploit their devices, or steal their data. It can be time consuming and costly to detect and remove these infections.

Control Over Website Resources

Proper permissions for files will ensure that critical web resources such as key files, themes and plugins can only be changed by authorized users. Unauthorized changes can disturb the functionality of your site, which could lead to unexpected errors.

Prevention of Privilege Escalation

If attackers who have limited access to your site are attempting to increase their privileges so that they can gain administrative control, setting appropriate file permissions is useful in preventing privilege escalation. The impact of these attacks can be minimized by having appropriate permissions.

Compliance with Data Protection Laws

Data protection legislation requires website owners to protect user data and maintain strict access controls in a number of regions across the globe. To comply with those regulations, for example the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring that appropriate file permissions are in place is of utmost importance.

Securing Uploads and User Content

By managing file permissions properly, you can secure user-uploaded content, preventing malicious files or scripts from being uploaded and executed on your server.

Protection Against Code Injection

Proper file permissions can help stop code injection attacks from occurring, where attackers attempt to insert malicious code into your site's files, thus compromising its functionality and security.

Safeguarding Server Resources

Limiting execute level permissions prevents unauthorized users from gaining access and performing tasks that could exploit the server.

Maintaining Website Performance

In making sure that only necessary permissions are granted, you can greatly reduce the risk of performance issues and potential conflicts between users and scripts running on your server.

WordPress File Permissions 101

Basic WordPress file permissions refer to the standard set of permissions that are commonly applied to files and directories in a WordPress installation. These permissions control who can read, write, and execute the files, ensuring the security and functionality of your website.

In a typical WordPress installation, the basic file permissions are usually set as follows:

  • Directories: 755 (rwxr-xr-x)
  • Files: 644 (rw-r--r--)

To make WordPress work correctly and safely, these settings provide the necessary permissions. The owner (usually the web server) has full read, write, and execute permissions, while the group and others have read and execute permissions. On the other hand, files can be set to allow reading and writing access for an owner as well as read only access for groups and others.

It's essential to keep these basic file permissions intact, as they provide a balance between functionality and security. Always apply the principle of least privilege, granting only the necessary permissions to keep your WordPress site secure.

WordPress File Permissions: Best Practices

To be proactive about WordPress file permissions, follow these best practices:

  • Assign the minimum necessary permissions to files and directories.
  • Regularly review file permissions for any vulnerabilities and unauthorized changes.
  • Don’t use the permission codes 777 or, as it provides full access to everyone on the server and poses a significant security risk.
  • Set proper permissions for uploaded files and user-generated content.
  • Keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins updated to benefit from the latest security improvements and patches.

It’s important to note that if you are using other file permissions, to test your website. While you should be conscious of security, you shouldn’t change the file permissions to be too strict. In doing so, it could slow down the site, or cause some of it not to work properly.



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In Summary

For the most part, you may never need to adjust WordPress file permissions. However, it’s best to be vigilant and make sure they are correct, otherwise your site may not run as expected. You can always change the file permissions using a FTP client, or using your web host’s File manager tool. In some rare cases, you might need to contact your web host to help, in case you run into issues of not being able to change file permissions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why choose Verpex for WordPress?

As the leading CMS out there, we’ve made it our mission to offer the most comprehensive and streamlined WordPress solutions on the market. Backed by a responsive customer care team and reliable site enhancement tools, we ensure our users get the full WordPress value and support for a reasonable price.

How do I get help with my WordPress site?

There’s never a moment we won’t be here to support the development of your website and your business. Unlike many of our competitors, we’re online 24/7, providing support to our users whenever they need it. We provide a live chat experience so we can quickly communicate in real time, meaning you can swiftly get back to enhancing your customers’ experiences.

Can I use WordPress with any hosting

WordPress can generally be used with most hosting providers, as long as the hosting meets the minimum requirements for running WordPress.

Which type of hosting is best for a WordPress website?

For a WordPress website, the best type of hosting is WordPress hosting. WordPress hosting is specifically designed and optimized to provide the best performance, security, and support for WordPress websites.

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