WordPress could not create directory or copy file

WordPress errors after setting up a new installation on the server can include these:

Downloading update from https://wordpress.org/wordpress-3.0.1.zip
Unpacking the update
Could not create directory.: /public_html
Installation Failed

Downloading update from https://wordpress.org/wordpress-3.0.1.zip
Unpacking the update
Verifying the unpacked files
Installing the latest version
Could not copy file.: /public_html/wp-admin/css/theme-editor.dev.css
Installation Failed

They are generally permission based errors and can be resolved by changing permissions (CHMOD) of the following folders to 777:

In wp-content there are 4 folders (plugins, themes, upgrade, uploads).
You can use a decent FTP program for this. I use and recommend the free WINSCP from here:


It’s very stable and supports FTP, SFTP and SCP.

5 thoughts on “WordPress could not create directory or copy file

  1. Thank you so much. This has been a quick fix to a problem that I couldn’t get past for days. My hosting tech support were useless. Look for a donation coming your way!

  2. When you change permissions, should you change the permissions of all the sub-folders and files as well?

    Should you change the permissions back after the upgrade?

    What security ramifications are involved?



    • Hi Joe. I generally change permissions as laid out in my article here:

      Best WordPress permissions

      If you want to do ‘best practice’ then change permissions to a higher number to get your installation issue resolved, then immediately change them back to as low a number as possible using those numbers I mentioned in the article as your starting point. Yes, you should do this for sub-folders too.
      Security-wise, leaving permissions set too high will leave an open door for an attacker, so make sure these are locked down as my suggestions.

  3. I tried deleting the “Upgrade” folder, but that didn’t work. What did work was going into my CPanel for the website and doing the upgrade with Fantastico. The WordPress was originally installed through that, and it had been years since an update had been done (not my department! LOL). Even though Fantastico was one or two upgrades behind, once it had done it’s upgrade thing, the WordPress updates could be done on their own, on the program, the themes, and the plugins. All is well now, thanks for the great ideas everyone.

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