Picture this: you’ve started building your WordPress website. You’ve created your navigation menu, header, website footer, and the bare bones of your most essential pages like the “About Us” and “Contact” page.

Now you’re ready to start uploading images, videos, and other media. Everything is going smoothly with the built-in media uploader in WordPress — until you see an HTTP error. Uh-oh.

Something went wrong, but you’re not sure what exactly. In this post, we’ll walk through different reasons you might be getting the generic HTTP image upload error and different ways you can resolve it.

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What is HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress?

HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress is a generic error message that can occur when you’re trying to upload files using the built-in media uploader in WordPress.

For example, let's say you wanted to upload a featured image and change its size within WordPress. Here's how the HTTP error might display.

Generic HTTP error occured when uploading an image file to WordPress

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Why am I getting HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress?

Usually, an HTTP error comes with a status code like 403 or 502. These provide more details about why the error is occurring.

The HTTP image upload error doesn’t because WordPress can’t figure out the cause. So it displays a generic HTTP error message instead

It’s not that WordPress can’t figure out any reason for the error — it just can’t narrow down the reason for the error to just one. A few possible causes of the HTTP image upload error are:

  • Apostrophes, semi colons, or other special characters in the file name
  • Plugin or theme issues
  • Exceeded PHP memory limit
  • Exceeded maximum upload file size
  • Outdated or unsupported PHP version

Because there are several potential causes of this error, we’ll walk through several steps you can take to resolve it. We’ll start with the simplest steps and then move on to the more complex and time-consuming.

1. Refresh your browser.

This is basically the advice I get every time I ask for Apple support: have you tried turning your computer on and off? It can be frustrating to hear but the advice is sound. You need to make sure that whatever issue you’re having isn’t a temporary glitch.

Along the same lines, the first thing you should do to troubleshoot the HTTP image upload error is refresh your browser and try uploading the file again. Sometimes, a temporary issue with your Wifi or hosting provider can prevent a file from uploading successfully. In that case, once you refresh the browser, you should be able to upload it with no problem.

2. Rename the file.

If refreshing your browser doesn’t work, then the next simplest solution is to rename the file you’re trying to upload. You might be getting the HTTP error message because the file name contains special characters, like apostrophes, semi-colons, or international language symbols.

Once you rename the file, try uploading it again. If you still get the HTTP error, then at least you’ve only lost a few seconds of time and can move onto the next step.

3. Resize the file.

If you’re still getting the HTTP image upload error message, the problem might be that your image file is simply too big.

To ensure it’s under the maximum upload file size, you can resize and compress the image using a range of image optimization plugins or free tools like Squoosh.

Squoosh can help you resize and compress images to resolve HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress

4. Temporarily deactivate your plugins.

Certain WordPress plugins might be causing the HTTP image upload error on your site. Image optimization and security plugins are notorious culprits of this generic message.

If you recently uploaded a new plugin and are just seeing the HTTP image upload error, try deactivating that plugin. If that doesn’t resolve the error, then try deactivating your plugins one-by-one.

You can deactivate plugins to try to resolve HTTP error when uploading images in WordPress

If the HTTP error goes away after deactivating a plugin, then you might need to find an alternative to use on your site. Or you can reach out to the plugin developer to troubleshoot this error.

If the HTTP error doesn’t go away, then go ahead and re-activate your plugins and try the next step.

5. Switch to a default theme.

If it’s not a plugin prompting the HTTP image upload error, then it could be your WordPress theme. This is particularly likely if you’ve just downloaded and activated a new theme and are now getting the HTTP error.

In that case, you can create a backup of your site. Then switch to a default theme, like this year’s Twenty Twenty-One theme.

Switching to the default twenty twenty-one theme can resolve HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress

If that fixes the HTTP error, then you might stick with this default theme, find another theme that doesn’t prompt this error, or reach out to the developer of your original theme and ask them to troubleshoot.

6. Increase your PHP memory limit.

It’s possible that you’re seeing an HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress because you’ve exceeded your PHP memory limit. That means your server doesn’t have enough available memory for the upload process to complete successfully.

The good news is to increase this memory limit, you just need to add a single line of code to your wp-config.php file. Follow these steps:

  • Log in to your hosting control panel.
  • Open the File Manager.
  • Locate the wp-config.php file and right-click to edit it.

Editing wp-config.php file can resolve HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress

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  • Scroll down to the end of the file to the line that reads /* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */
  • Right before this line, add the following code:

 
define ('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Once you save your changes, your PHP memory limit will now be increased to 256MB, which is the recommended limit. You can now return to your WordPress admin dashboard and try to upload the file again. If you’re still seeing the HTTP error, then move onto the next step.

7. Update your PHP version.

WordPress recommends your host supports PHP 7.4 or greater. If you’re not running on the latest PHP version, then you’re not only putting your site at risk — you might also be causing the HTTP error when uploading images to your site.

Most hosts make this update process as easy as possible. While the process might differ slightly depending on the hosting provider, it will look something like the following. Here are the three steps for updating your PHP version with a2hosting.

  • Log into your control panel.
  • Scroll to the section labelled “Software.”
  • Then click Select PHP Version, and select the latest version that your host supports.

Upgrade PHP version in a2hosting's cpanel to resolve HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress

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Make sure you’re running the latest version of PHP and then try uploading the file again. If you’re still seeing the HTTP error, then move onto the next step.

8. Edit your .htacess file.

WordPress uses two PHP modules for processing images: Imagick and GD Library. If too few resources are allocated to Imagick, then you might get the HTTP error when uploading images to your WordPress site. This is particularly likely if you use shared hosting since a limited amount of resources is allocated to multiple sites running on the same server.

To fix this error, you can add a line of code to your .htaccess file that tells Imagick to use a single thread — instead of multiple threads — to process images. Follow the steps below.

  • Log in to your hosting control panel.
  • Open the File Manager.
  • Click the public_html folder.

Open your public_html folder to edit your .htacess file to resolve HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress

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  • Open the folder labeled “wordpress.”
  • Locate the .htaccess file and right click to edit it.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the file and add the following line of code: 

 
MAGICK_THREAD_LIMIT 1

Once you save your changes, return to your admin dashboard and try to upload the media file. If the HTTP error is not resolved, try the next step.

9. Change your default image editor.

If you’re still getting the HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress, the problem might still be that Imagick is exhausting the available resources on your server. In that case, you can make the other PHP module for processing images — GD Library — your default editor.

To do so, you’ll need to add some code to your theme’s functions.php file. Follow these steps:

  • Log in to your hosting control panel.
  • Open the File Manager.
  • Open your wp-content folder.
  • Open your themes folder.
  • Locate the functions.php file and right-click to edit it.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the file and paste the following code snippet.

 
function wpb_image_editor_default_to_gd( $editors ) {
$gd_editor = 'WP_Image_Editor_GD';
$editors = array_diff( $editors, array( $gd_editor ) );
array_unshift( $editors, $gd_editor );
return $editors;
}
add_filter( 'wp_image_editors', 'wpb_image_editor_default_to_gd' );

Once you save your changes, try to upload the media file again. If you still get the HTTP error, delete the code you added to the functions.php file. Then move onto the next step.

10. Contact your hosting provider.

For any type of error, contacting your hosting provider is always an option, but it should be considered a last resort.

If you’ve tried the steps above and are still seeing the 429 error, it’s possible that the cause originated from your server and not your website. By reaching out to your provider, they may be able to solve the issue or provide valuable insight.

Error-free Image Uploads to WordPress

An HTTP error when uploading images to WordPress can be frustrating because of its lack of specificity. The good news is that you can often resolve the error without adding any code or spending much time troubleshooting.

Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms  without dealing with code. Click here to learn more.

 Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms  without dealing with code. Click here to learn more.

Originally published Feb 4, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated March 17 2021

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WordPress Website