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How to import file in WordPress

How to Import Files in WordPress 

Written By: author image Joella Dunn
author image Joella Dunn
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the President of Duplicator. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Do you want to import files into your WordPress site?

Whether you’re migrating your site, recovering from data loss, or streamlining content management, file imports can be necessary for WordPress management.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to import files in WordPress!

Quick Summary: How to Import Files in WordPress

1. Install a WordPress migration plugin.
Although WordPress has a built-in import/export tool, it can’t move data like a custom theme or media library. For more flexibility, install a migration plugin like Duplicator Pro.
2. Export data from your old website.
It’s time to create a custom exported file that you’ll import into another site. Add a new package in Duplicator and choose exactly what data you want to include. Duplicator can migrate your WordPress files, plugins, themes, media files, and database.
3. Import the data into the new site.
On the new location, install Duplicator Pro. Drag and drop the exported file into the import page.

Why You Might Want to Import Files in WordPress

Here are some reasons you might need to import files in WordPress!

Migrating Your Website

File imports can be useful when you’re migrating your website to a new WordPress installation. By importing files, you can seamlessly transfer all your content, including blog posts, pages, images, plugins, and themes. 

This saves you from the hassle of manually recreating everything from scratch. You can continue to improve your SEO without losing your hard-earned rankings. 

Restoring a Backup

Accidents happen, and sometimes you might accidentally delete important content or encounter technical issues. By importing your backup files, you can easily get everything up and running again. It’s like hitting the “undo” button for your site.

Bulk Data Entry

If you have a large amount of content that needs to be added to your WordPress site, importing files can save you time and effort.

For example, you may have a CSV or XML file with a list of products, blog posts, or user data. Instead of manually entering each piece of data, you can import this file directly into WordPress. 

Integrating External Data

You may want to transfer information from other platforms into your WordPress site. If your product data is in a separate system, you can import that data into WordPress. This will keep everything synchronized and up to date.

Sharing Content Across Sites

Importing files makes it a breeze to share your content across multiple WordPress sites. You can export files from one site and import them into another, maintaining consistent content across your online presence.

How to Import Files in WordPress

Now that you’ve decided to import files into your WordPress site, you might need step-by-step instructions on how to do it. This way, you’ll easily transfer data to your site without any issues. 

Method 1: Use the WordPress Import Tool

WordPress has built-in import and export tools that allow you to migrate files between different sites. Usually, people use the importer to move content from other publishing systems like Blogger, Joomla, or Tumblr.

Run WordPress Importer

Of course, you can also migrate content from another WordPress site. Simply hit Install Now next to the WordPress option. Then, click on Run Importer to start uploading an XML or WXR file:

Import WordPress XML file

After this, you can map the exported content to an existing user on the site. To make sure attachments are imported, select the Download and import file attachments option:

Assign author to imported WordPress content

Although this process doesn’t require any third-party plugins, it has its limitations. The WordPress importer will only import posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and custom fields. This means that it won’t transfer your custom theme or extensive Media Library.

Method 2: Use a WordPress Migration Plugin

To import and export WordPress files more easily, we’d recommend using a migration plugin. You’ll have more flexible options when it comes to migrating your site content. 

Step 1: Install Duplicator Pro

Although there are many WordPress migration plugins out there, Duplicator is by far the best.

It has a drag-and-drop interface, which means it’s a great tool for beginners. Plus, Duplicator can regularly back up your website and even clone it to a staging site for safe testing.

Duplicator Pro plugin

With Duplicator, you can create site backups that include custom WordPress data. Then, you’ll be able to import these backup files by dragging and dropping them into another WordPress installation. This makes it the best WordPress importer plugin.

To get started, choose a subscription for Duplicator Pro. You could opt for the free version, but then you wouldn’t get to experience the convenience of drag-and-drop imports.

Then, open your WordPress dashboard and install and activate Duplicator.

Before you start using Duplicator, you’ll need to activate your license key. Copy the key that you received with your purchase. In WordPress, find Duplicator Pro » Settings » Licensing:

Activate Duplicator Pro license key

Paste your license key and activate it. This will unlock a wide range of premium features to help you with site migrations, backups, and cloning! 

Step 2: Create a Custom Package

Next, you can create a custom file with all of the data you want to transfer to the new location. Don’t worry, Duplicator Pro makes this process easy. 

To get started, build a package by heading over to Duplicator Pro » Packages » Create New:

Create Duplicator package

Duplicator will automatically generate a name for the backup, but you can rename it so it’s easier to find. Although the plugin supports many cloud backup storage services, select Local:

Duplicator package export

Next, expand the Archive section. Using the custom package components, you can select exactly which parts of your WordPress site you want to transfer:

Custom WordPress file export

You’ll be able to include/exclude the database, along with:

To avoid importing a large file, you could also choose to only include active plugin and theme files. Additionally, consider removing the Other option to exclude non-WordPress files and folders. This will exclude any unnecessary data and optimize your backup:

Optimized WordPress file export

After this, hit Next. Now, Duplicator will scan your website for issues:

Duplicator file export scan

Once you review any notices, click on Build to start creating your package. 

Step 3: Download Your Files

Now that you’ve built a custom file, you’ll want to download it. Your new backup will be at the top of the Packages page:

Download custom WordPress files

Click on Download » Archive (zip). This will download a ZIP file with your compiled custom WordPress files. Be sure to save this so you can import it into another location.

If you’re using Duplicator Pro, you’ll only have to download the package’s archive file and drag and drop it into a new WordPress installation. However, if you don’t have WordPress installed or you’re using Duplicator Lite, be sure to also download the installer. For more information on this process, check out this guide on how to clone a WordPress site

Step 4: Import the Files into WordPress

Rather than manually uploading files in cPanel or a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client, Duplicator allows you to simply drop a package into the new site.

To start the import process, be sure to install and activate Duplicator Pro on the second installation. 

Then, head over to Duplicator Pro » Import. Here, upload the file archive:

Import website archive

Once it uploads, you’ll see an overview of the package. This will show you the site details, along with what components you decided to include in the package:

Import file in WordPress

Hit Continue. Before you import the file, consider setting a recovery point. Essentially, this involves using the most recent backup to recover your site if anything goes wrong:

Set Duplicator recovery point

After you configure the recovery point, copy the recovery URL and save it. When you’re ready to continue, click on Launch Installer:

Launch site installer

If you decided to exclude your database from your package, Duplicator will only work as a file extractor. In the migration wizard, you’ll see that it won’t perform any actions on the current site’s database:

Duplicator file installer

At the bottom of the page, accept the terms and notices and hit Next. A pop-up will appear asking you to confirm the install settings:

Confirm WordPress file import

Now, Duplicator will automatically import all of the files in your package. You’ll see a success message after this is complete:

Finished WordPress file import

To access your updated website, you’ll need to log back into the admin area. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best WordPress import plugin?

The best WordPress import plugin is Duplicator Pro. With this tool, you’ll be able to customize exactly what data you want to compress into a zip file. Then, you can drag and drop this into a new WordPress installation and use Duplicator to extract the files. 

Alternative: WP All Import and CSV Importer are other import plugins. WP All Import is a popular option that can import XML and CSV files. It’s capable of importing data like posts, pages, taxonomies, custom post types, users, and WooCommerce products

How do I import data into my WordPress site?

You can import data into your WordPress site by creating a custom archive file with Duplicator Pro. Then, drag and drop this file into another WordPress installation. Duplicator’s installer wizard will walk you through the rest of the data import process.

Alternatively, WordPress provides a built-in import tool to upload XML files to your site. This can import posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and custom fields. However, you’ll need a more flexible tool if you want to migrate images and other files. 

How do I manually import media into WordPress?

Using an FTP client, go to public_html » wp-content » uploads. In this folder, your media files will be organized by year. To save your entire Media Library, download all these folders.

Then, log into the new WordPress website via FTP. Drag and drop your downloaded files into the uploads folder. Since your image links will still point to the original site, you’ll also need to update URLs after the migration

How do I import an XML file into WordPress?

You can import an XML file into WordPress by finding Tools » Import. Run the WordPress importer and upload your XML file. Lastly, hit Upload file and import and have different ways of importing content. If you want to migrate to, go to Tools » Import » WordPress and enter your site address. Then, you can choose to import everything, or just posts, pages, comments, and media files. 


You’ve just successfully imported files in WordPress!

While you’re here, you may also like these extra WordPress tips and tricks:

Do you want more flexible import options than what’s available in WordPress? Download Duplicator Pro to drag and drop custom file archives into any WordPress site!

author avatar
Joella Dunn Content Writer
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.

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