WordPress error “Unable to create directory uploads/2013/04. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”

Today I was working on a WordPress site and received this error when I tried to upload an image:

“Unable to create directory uploads/2013/04. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”

I immediately went to my FTP program and changed the permissions on the uploads directory to ’777′ – this didn’t fix it.

So I started googling to see if this was a known error and how it could be fixed. Other people were having the error and it was suggested that people go (in the WordPress admin panel) to Settings > Media and change the setting so that files are not stored in date based folders.

Doing this made me realise what the actual error was – I had changed hosting servers a few months previously so the file path that WordPress had stored in the database was no longer correct! I had forgottten about the change and expected WordPress to just keep working as normal.

In the ‘Store uploads in this folder’ section of the Media > Settings page I updated the setting to my new server path:

home/myaccount/public_html/mynewpath/wp-content/uploads

and all is well :)

(*Update: As of WordPress version 3.5 there is no longer a ‘Store uploads in this folder’ option in the admin panel. There is a handy plugin from ‘RVOLA’ here that should do the trick: wp-original-media-path/ and some other suggestions in the comments below)

I thought I’d make a quick post about this here on my blog just in case it’s helpful to anyone else who has this problem. Hey we all forget things from time to time!

15 thoughts on “WordPress error “Unable to create directory uploads/2013/04. Is its parent directory writable by the server?”

  1. Hiya, thank you for your post, I am having the same problem!
    Just a quick question, where you say In the ‘Store uploads in this folder’ section of that page I updated the setting to my new server path:

    Where exactly is that?

    Thank you

  2. I just had this problem, looked everywhere until I came to your post here and got to fix it. So, thank you for posting this!! Woulda pulled all my hair out otherwise ;)

    • Hi Bill, no that did not solve the problem. I tried that first and it had no effect. I then remembered that I had moved servers (the same hosting company but to a different account) so the actual server path that WordPress was using was incorrect, so I had to change that setting specifically.

      • how did you do this?? I switched servers as well and now can’t load any pictures. I tried to install that plugin to fix it but it won’t even activate….

        • HI Collette, If the plugin won’t activate there may be a deeper problem with your installation. Did you follow the recommend steps from the Codex when changing server? http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress

          If no pictures are loading at all, I would make sure they are actually on the server by logging in via FTP and having a look in the wp-content/uploads directory.

          If you think it is just a problem with the directory path that WordPress is using (as was my problem) then you could try accessing the ‘God mode’ page in the admin panel by going to:

          http://yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/options.php

          Then changing the ‘upload_path’ setting to match your new server path, which you should be able to find by looking at the directory in your FTP software, it will look something like this: home/myaccount/public_html/mynewpath/wp-content/uploads

          Hope that helps!

      • Yes, it does work. Wish you would stop telling people changing permissions on wp-content doesn’t work. It will work for the MAJORITY of people (assuming you set recursive to true).

        • I say it did not work because it did not work for me! Simply stating a fact. It may work for the majority of people if they are not experiencing the same error as I was, but this article is about my experience and what I did to solve it.

          Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thanks for the help. Our site was just moved over from our developer’s test server. It works fine, but when we tried to upload files, we received the same error. After updating the path, everything works.

    To confirm the correct path, I selected an existing image from the newly transferred site, and using inspect element was able to retrieve the path. I cut and pasted it into the “Store uploads…” folder field which I found under Settings ==> Media. Couldn’t be easier.

    Thanks again!

  4. Thanks for this! I thought it was a permissions or ownership problem, but this did the trick. You described what went wrong, which made more sense than another post I found, with the same solution but no explanation.

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