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A WordPress Folder Tour


This brief tour will help you get a handle on where the things I find most important to my development processes live on your server.
If you are new to the world of WordPress or want to have more control of your website then understanding how you organize your files will be beneficial to you. While WordPress stores much of your blogging data such as settings, text and link references in a MySql database, other assets such as Images, coding files, themes, templates, plugins are stored in file folders in your www or public_html folder. Many of the tutorials on my blog deal with the WordPress file structure and knowing where to find certain assets. This brief tour will help you get a handle on where the things I find most important to my development processes live on your server.

If you are new to the world of WordPress or want to have more control of your website then understanding how you organize your files will be beneficial to you. While WordPress stores much of your blogging data such as settings, text and link references in a MySql database, other assets such as Images, coding files, themes, templates, plugins are stored in file folders in your www or public_html folder. Many of the tutorials on my blog deal with the WordPress file structure and knowing where to find certain assets. This brief tour will help you get a handle on where the things I find most important to my development processes live on your server.


"Head over to your hosting control panel and open your file manager. In my case, I am using CPanel. To see how to login to Cpanel click here. Make sure your settings are such that you can see invisible files."
The file structure of WordPress is set up in such a way that your images, plugins, and theme are separate to the core code. Because WordPress updates its core data frequently, the last thing you want is for your files overwritten every time an update takes place. Similarly, you do not want to store anything in a folder that is maintained by WordPress, this will inevitably end up in data loss.

Head over to your hosting control panel and open your file manager. In my case, I am using CPanel. To see how to login to Cpanel click here. Make sure your settings are such that you can see invisible files. If your hosting control panel is not CPanel, contact your hosting company for instructions on how to view your www folder.

Related Article: Quick way to find your WordPress Files and Folders

If you view your public_html or www file on your server, you will see your WordPress files. Sometimes the install is made in a subfolder to keep your public_html folder cleaner. The subfolder name is not standard; it can be named anything. If this is the case, you may have to identify which folder your WordPress files exist. One way to do this is to view the index.php file in the public_html file.
If there is a folder before “/wp-blog-header.php,” and in the case above, there is “/wpbb.” That is the folder where you will find your WordPress files. If there is not a folder before “/wp-blog-header.php” then you know your files are not in a subfolder.

Once you have located your WordPress folder, you will see many files. Most of these, I ignore. However, I will point out a few.

Configuration Files: wp-config.php and .htaccess
Wordpress talks to a MySQL database. If you are new to databases or have never programmed a website using one, you may at first blush be frustrated that you cannot find particular text or other settings directly in the file structure of the server. Since WordPress stores settings, page text, references and more in the database tables of MySQL. This article will not give a tour, nor demonstrate how WordPress uses MySQL. If you want to learn more about the database, and how vital it is to WordPress, check out this link here. I will direct you to the file that WordPress uses to connect to the database. This file is called wp-config.php and its located in the public_html or www folder of your server.

There are multiple .htaccess files in various WordPress folders. The one I am most concerned with is the one in the public_html folder. It is considered a hidden file so be sure your control panel settings are set to view hidden files. When you make a change your permalinks in the WordPress admin, this file changes to reflect the settings you choose.

Core Folders and Files
I call all the pages and folders not listed above the core of WordPress. These files update with the different releases of WordPress. I don’t manipulate these files because they will change from version to version. Instead, all programming changes that I make are done within the wp-content folder since it does not typically change with WordPress updates.

Wp-content folder
The wp-content folder is where files particular to your website remain. In this folder, you will find the themes, uploads, and plugins you have installed on your WordPress installation. When the WordPress core has an update, none of these files are touched. I will note that when individual theme and plugins are updated those folders may change. The uploads folder, however, stays the same during an upgrade. Having said this, as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to have backups of everything you have on your server. Nothing should ever be left to chance when updating.

Within the wp-content folder are your Theme, Uploads, and Plugin Folder. There are others, but these are the ones I need to access.

Plugins folder
When you add a plugin to WordPress, generally speaking, the program lands here in this folder. Do not store anything in a plugin folder because they frequently get updated. If an upgrade happens, the old versions of the plugin delete.

Themes folder
I spend most of my time programming websites in these folders. Although these folders do get updated, there is a trick to keep your code from being effective. Child-themes rely on the theme but do not contain the files that update. You can add programs to the child-theme without risking the loss of code.

functions.php
Few WordPress coding tutorials do not require the functions.php file. If you want to make significant changes to your website, you need to learn PHP. Your PHP code snippets reside inside the functions.php within the themes folder. If you are going to add your code to WordPress, it is a good idea to learn about child-themes and how to manipulate functions.php.

Uploads folder
The images added to your media library live in the uploads folder. The images are organized in folders by first the year than the month. WordPress creates multiple renditions of the pictures you upload. This folder will show more images than your media library.

So there is a quick tour of the WordPress file structure. Rarely in the years as a programmer have I needed to venture outside of these files. Now that you have the WordPress folder tour;  make something special.

Happy programming!

About jjadmin

Jonny (Jon Jon) Johnson, founder of JamboJon Web Development, has been taking things apart and putting them back together since he was a small kid. With a knack for engineering & fixing things, including his kid's toys, household repairs and all things web, Jonny's passions include development, programming, and creating online business systems that engage productivity and efficiency. Jonny's expertise includes html, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, and PHP, not to mention the Abobe Suite and more. He develops marketing websites, shopping carts, and custom programs. He began programming websites while the internet was in its infancy in 1998, and through the journey of developing close to 500 websites and 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, has added to his quiver expertise regarding marketing programs, color psychology, graphic design that inspires others to take action and systemizing processes that grow businesses. Jonny received a bachelor's degree in business marketing from the University of Utah and continues to make ongoing education a top priority.

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