S3 Uploads is a WordPress plugin to store uploads on S3. S3 Uploads aims to be a lightweight “drop-in” for storing uploads on Amazon S3 instead of the local filesystem.

It’s focused on providing a highly robust S3 interface with no “bells and whistles”, WP-Admin UI or much otherwise. It comes with some helpful WP-CLI commands for generating IAM users, listing files on S3 and Migrating your existing library to S3.


Clone or submodule the repository into your plugins or MU plugins directory.

To configure S3 Uploads, add the following to your wp-config.php file:

define( 'S3_UPLOADS_BUCKET', 'my-bucket' );
define( 'S3_UPLOADS_KEY', '' );
define( 'S3_UPLOADS_SECRET', '' );

Enable the plugin. To do this via WP-CLI use command:

wp plugin activate S3-Uploads

The next thing that you should do is to verify your setup. You can do this using the verify command like so:

wp s3-uploads verify

You’ll want to create a new IAM user for the S3-Uploads plugin, so you are not using admin level access keys on your site. S3-Uploads can create the IAM user for you and asign the correct permissions.

wp s3-uploads create-iam-user --admin-key=<key> --admin-secret=<secret>

This will provide you with a new Access Key and Secret Key which you can configure S3-Uploads with. Paste the values in the wp-config.php. Once you have migrated your media to S3 with any of the below methods, you’ll want to enable S3 Uploads: wp s3-uploads enable.

If you want to create your IAM user yourself, or attach the neccessary permissions to an existing user, you can output the policy via wp s3-uploads generate-iam-policy

Migrating your Media to S3

S3-Uploads can migrate your existing media library to S3. Once you have S3-Uploads up and running, use the following WP-CLI command:

wp s3-uploads migrate-attachments [--delete-local]

By default, S3-Uploads will keep your files locally just incase something goes wrong, but you can delete with the --delete-local flag.

Listing files on S3

S3-Uploads comes with a WP-CLI command for listing files in the S3 bucket for debugging etc.

wp s3-uploads ls [<path>]

Uploading files to S3

Sometimes the wp s3-uploads migrate-attachments command may not be enough to migrate your uploads to S3, as that will only move attachment files to S3. If you are using any plugins that store data in uploads, you’ll want to upload the whole uploads directory.

wp s3-uploads upload-directory <from> <to> [--sync] [--dry-run]

Passing --sync will only upload files that are newer in <from> or that don’t exist on S3 already. Use --dry-run to test.

There is also an all purpose cp command for arbitrary copying to and from S3.

wp s3-uploads cp <from> <to>

Note: as either <from> or <to> can be S3 or local locations, you must specify the full S3 location via s3://mybucket/mydirectory for example cp ./test.txt s3://mybucket/test.txt.

Cache Control

You can define the default HTTP Cache-Control header for uploaded media using the following constant:

define( 'S3_UPLOADS_HTTP_CACHE_CONTROL', 30 * 24 * 60 * 60 );
	// will expire in 30 days time

You can also configure the Expires header using the S3_UPLOADS_HTTP_EXPIRES constant For instance if you wanted to set an asset to effectively not expire, you could set the Expires header way off in the future. For example:

define( 'S3_UPLOADS_HTTP_EXPIRES', gmdate( 'D, d M Y H:i:s', time() + (10 * 365 * 24 * 60 * 60) ) .' GMT' );
// will expire in 10 years time

Default Behaviour

As S3 Uploads is a plug and play plugin, activating it will start rewriting image URLs to S3, and also put new uploads on S3. Sometimes this isn’t required behaviour as a site owner may want to upload a large amount of media to S3 using the wp-cli commands before enabling S3 Uploads to direct all uploads requests to S3. In this case one can define the S3_UPLOADS_AUTOENABLE to false. For example, place the following in your wp-config.php:

define( 'S3_UPLOADS_AUTOENABLE', false );

To then enabled S3 Uploads rewriting, use the wp-cli command: wp s3-uploads enable / wp s3-uploads disable to toggle the behaviour.

Offline Development

While it’s possible to use S3 Uploads for local development (this is actually a nice way to not have to sync all uploads from production to development), if you want to develop offline you have a couple of options.

  1. Just disable the S3 Uploads plugin in your development environment.
  2. Define the S3_UPLOADS_USE_LOCAL constant with the plugin active.

Option 2 will allow you to run the S3 Uploads plugin for production parity purposes, it will essentially mock Amazon S3 with a local stream wrapper and actually store the uploads in your WP Upload Dir /s3/.

Help develop this plugin

The S3 Uploads plugin is hosted on GitHub, if you want to help out with development or testing then head over to GitHub.