How to find your WordPress installation path?


Development / 3 min read

How to find your WordPress installation path?

Whether you’re a website owner or developer, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of the core files that make up your installation. Learning how to find your WordPress installation path will help you better understand your website and be ready if you ever need to make quick changes.

Let’s explore two beginner-friendly methods to access your installation path, which contains all the files your WordPress site needs to function properly.

What is your WordPress installation path?

Your WordPress installation path is the root directory containing all your website’s core files. This root directory contains the PHP and JS files, subdirectories, themes, plugins and other files that make your site possible. The WordPress root is located in the server hosting your site, usually in a folder named “/“or “root,” “public,” “root_html,” “public_html,” or your website’s name.

Specifically, the root directory contains three folders and several other files of various formats, mostly .php. The three folders are wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes.

  • The wp-admin folder contains the data from your dashboard.
  • The wp-content folder contains media uploads and plugin and theme files.
  • The wp-includes folder contains all the WordPress functions necessary for your website to run (posting, widgets, and more).

The remaining files outside the subdirectories also contain essential data. wp-config.php, for example, includes functions for connecting to the database and global settings.

2 beginner-friendly ways to access your WordPress installation path

Before moving forward, remember to always back up your WordPress site when making significant changes. If you plan to edit a single file, back up that file before editing. 

Use your web hosting control panel

Perhaps the easiest and most beginner-friendly way to access your WordPress installation directory is by using your web hosting control panel. The most popular control panel is cPanel, provided by your web host as part of your hosting plan.

Some web hosts have proprietary control panels, but most provide cPanel. To access your installation path, log in to your cPanel account and go to the File Manager from the control panel’s main dashboard.

screenshot of cpanel's Files section

Then go to the directory that leads to your installation path. It’ll usually be public_html, but it may be different for you.

You should see the three main WordPress folders on the following screen: wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes.

cpanel screenshot  with a red arrow pointing towards the public_html folder

Establish an FTP connection

Another common method to access your installation path and edit files is establishing a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) connection to your server. FTP allows you to transfer files and access remote locations across the internet. To do that, you’ll need an FTP client like FileZilla.

Assuming you use FileZilla, input your domain name and credentials to gain access to your website’s folders. 

FileZilla screenshot highlighting the user credential fields

Once you gain access, you’ll likely land on the root directory, named “/” in this case. In the screenshot, you can also see the three main WordPress directories and core files.

FileZilla screenshot highlighting the three main WordPress folders

Why should you know how to find the WordPress installation path?

While editing the WordPress core files is generally not recommended, some situations require quick and easy fixes that require adding code snippets to specific files.

For example, if you’re manually installing a new website in one of your main website’s subdirectories, at some point, you’ll need to associate a database with your new website, which means you’ll need to edit the wp-config.php file to add the database’s name, username, and password.

Establishing file permissions for different types of users is another situation where you may need to access and edit core files. But regardless of the circumstances, knowing how core files work and how to access them is empowering. 

This knowledge will make you a more competent website owner who doesn’t rely on developers to make minor fixes. Additionally, navigating core files is a requirement to become a full-stack WordPress developer.

Hopefully, this guide helped you better understand WordPress’ core files and how to access them when you need to make changes.