Cannot update Wordpress plugins (file permission issues)?

Posted August 28, 2017 32.9k views

I get: Update Failed: The update cannot be installed because we will be unable to copy some files. This is usually due to inconsistent file permissions.

When trying to update plugins from the admin interface. I’ve set the user to www-data for both directories and files … but nothing works.

What do I have to do to simply being able to use Wordpress as it is intended?

These answers are provided by our Community. If you find them useful, show some love by clicking the heart. If you run into issues leave a comment, or add your own answer to help others.

Submit an Answer
10 answers

Ran these commands, and it’s now working just fine (both dashboard and ftp).

sudo usermod -aG www-data $USER

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www

sudo chmod -R 774 /var/www

KFSys December 2, 2020
Pinned Answer

Hello all,

This issue is usually caused by incorrect file permissions or ownerships on your server (rather than being a problem with the plugin itself). Basically, WordPress isn’t able to properly access its own plugins folder, and as a result can’t put the updated plugins files in there.


Permissions can be set to 644 for files and 755 for folders. To do so, you can run two quick find commands.

To make all folders in your website path with 755 permissions run the following command

find /path/to/website -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;

To make all files in your website root directory with 644 permissions, you can run

find /path/to/website -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

Please make sure to change /path/to/website with your real path.


Ownership means which user and group are controlling the files. Usually, that’s www-data. So what you’ll need to do si

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /path/to/website

Please make sure to change /path/to/website with your real path.

Once you do it, that’s it, you are good to go.


  • Thank you, it might be worth creating a small article on this because even with my initial WordPress one-click app install, I had the wrong file permissions to update the theme that I had uploaded via SFTP, and had to use the accepted answer on this post in order to gain the correct permissions to update the theme.

Worked as well, does it open any security backdoor ?

Thanks man, work perfectly..

The commands also worked for me, thanks!

Thanks it worked for me too!

Thanks, it worked for me -

worked for me! ty!

My WordPress website showing a couple of problems

  1. Plugin and theme update failed.
  2. Header slider not showing
  3. left sidebar is broken

someone help me please. here my website:

*Thanks in advance *

edited by KFSys