If you offer file downloads at your WordPress website, a dedicated download manager plugin will make it much easier to manage, display, and control access to those files.
WP File Download is such a plugin, and in my WP File Download review, I’ll show you how this plugin works and help you decide whether it’s the right tool to manage downloads at your WordPress site.
Let’s dig in!
Note – we published our first WP File Download review back in 2016. However, the developer has since added new features and completely rebuilt the user interface. As such, we’ve rewritten the review from scratch in January 2019 to account for those features.
WP File Download Review: Features And Pricing
WP File Download is a full-service WordPress file manager.
On one hand, it helps you organize and manage all of your files. You can:
- Move files around with drag-and-drop
- Upload new files
- Delete existing files
- Duplicate files
- Import files that you’ve uploaded via FTP
- Create new categories/folders as needed
- Use colors and icons to further organize files
- Tag files for organization
- Search and filter by a variety of options
- Utilize full-text search to search both file names and text inside of documents
- View version history
- Restrict which users can access a file
- Sync with external storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Then, WP File Download also acts as a download manager. You can:
- Insert download buttons in your front-end content. You can either feature specific files or let users browse a category of files.
- Control which users or user roles have access to certain files
- View download statistics, including statistics for custom date ranges
- Get email notifications when certain files are downloaded
- Include files in the normal WordPress search
WP File Download Pricing
You can get started with WP File Download for as little as $29 for use on unlimited sites and 6 months of support/updates.
Prices then range up to $59 for 12 months of support/updates and access to all of the add-ons.
Hands-On With The WP File Download Plugin
Now that you’ve seen the lengthy feature list, let’s go hands-on with the plugin.
Getting Set Up
When you install and activate the WP File Download plugin, the first thing that it does is run an environment check to make sure that the plugin is compatible with your server configuration:
Once it checks things like your PHP version, you’ll be able to select the theme that you want to use to manage your files.
I’ll go with the default theme, but WP File Download comes with 4 different themes in total:
To finish things out, you can make a few more nitty-gritty style choices, like the color for your download link and whether to show various bits of information:
And that’s it! You’re all set up.
Configuring All The Plugin’s Settings
Before we jump into the actual interface, I think it’s important to give you a quick look at the additional settings, as they will affect how some things work.
To access these settings, you head to WP File Download → Configuration.
In the Main Settings tab, you can configure an array of important settings covering everything from URL slugs to allowed file extensions:
Other tabs include:
- Search & Upload – lets you configure how search works, or generate the upload file shortcode.
- Themes – lets you choose a different theme or modify a theme.
- Email Notification – lets you choose when to receive email notifications (like when a new file is added or downloaded) and customize the notification text.
- User Roles – lets you control which user roles have access to the plugin or can perform certain actions.
A Tour Of The WP File Download Interface
Alright, now let’s dig into the actual file manager part of the interface.
To access your files, you can click on the WP File Download option in your WordPress dashboard sidebar.
There’s not anything there right now, but that will change in a second!
To upload a new file, you can either click that Select Files button or you can just drag a file (or files) straight from your desktop into the interface.
While the file uploads, you’ll see its status in the bottom-right corner, much as if you were uploading a file to Google Drive:
And once the file upload is finished, you’ll see the file in the interface, along with some extra information (like file size):
If you want to change what information is displayed, you can open a set of options that let you add columns for:
- Modified date
Pretty simple so far, right?
To organize your files, you can click that big New button to create a new folder. Then, moving files around is as simple as drag-and-drop:
And if you want to bulk manipulate files, you can use Ctrl + click or click the Select All button in the interface. Then, you can drag all the files at once or use the bulk options at the top:
Editing A File Or Folder (Category)
To edit the more detailed settings for an individual file or a folder/category of files, you’ll use a collapsible sidebar.
When you’re editing a single file, this sidebar lets you:
- Modify the published status
- Change the title
- Change the file type
- Add a remote URL (for remote files)
- Add a file description
Further down, you’ll also be able to:
- Add a version number
- View download statistics
- Add tags for organization
- Add a custom icon
- Find the direct download link or shortcode
- Upload a new version of the file
If you upload a new version, you’ll be able to see a full list of all the different versions in the interface.
When you’re editing an entire category, you’re able to:
- Change the category’s visibility
- Change the order
- Find the shortcode to display this category of files on the front-end
If you need help finding files, WP File Download includes a full-featured search. In addition to searching the file names, you can also use this search to find text content inside a document (this feature is disabled by default, and you might want to be careful about using it if you have a ton of files as it uses a lot of server resources).
When you go to search, you can choose whether to search all files or just a specific category:
Making Files Available For Download
I think I’ve covered the important backend stuff. Now, let’s get into how to make your files available for download.
To do that, you can either grab the shortcode for:
- An individual file
- A complete category of files
WP File Download does a great job of making this easy to do.
If you’re using the new Gutenberg block editor in WordPress 5.0, WP File Download includes blocks for both individual files and categories of files, so you can insert downloads without leaving the editor:
Once you insert a block, you’ll get a prompt to browse your available files. Then, you just need to choose the category or file that you want to make available for download:
If you’re still using the older Classic WordPress editor, don’t worry! WP File Download also includes buttons in the Classic Editor that make inserting file downloads just as easy:
How File Downloads Look To Visitors
Once you publish a post or page that contains a file download, your front-end visitors are ready to start downloading.
If you chose to embed a single file download, visitors can click the button to download. Or, they can click the Preview link to preview the file in their browser, which is a nice touch (the file preview opens in a lightbox):
On the other hand, if you chose to embed a complete category of files, visitors will see more information about each file, along with buttons to both download or preview the file:
File Search Engine
As an alternative to displaying specific files or categories, you can also create a front-end search engine from which your visitors can search and filter all the available files.
You can configure the shortcode from the plugin’s settings:
Then, your site’s visitors can use the various search and filter options that you enabled:
Viewing Download Statistics
Once people start downloading your files, you can view download statistics by going to WP File Download → Download Statistics.
At first, this area shows you the overall download stats across your entire site. But by using the drop-down in the top-left corner, you can choose specific categories or files. You can also use the date pickers to choose different date ranges:
Below the chart, you can also view the data in a table:
Allowing File Uploads
WP File Download isn’t just for downloads! You can also add a shortcode that adds a front-end file upload form.
You can have people upload files into the main category. Or, you can have them upload straight to specific categories.
The default form styling for the Astra theme looks a little wonky, but the functionality worked fine:
Once the file upload finishes, it shows up in the back-end interface right away.
Exploring Some Other Interesting Features
At this point, I think I’ve given you a pretty good overview of how WP File Download works.
To finish things out, let me focus on some smaller features that I think you might be interested in.
Upload Via FTP
If you want, WP File Download includes an import feature that lets you upload files via FTP and then import them into WP File Download. This is a nice option for especially large files, or if you just prefer working with FTP.
Once you enable this feature, you’ll get a new Import into category option that lets you browse files on your server from the WP File Download interface. You could also use this to import files from your regular Media Library if you wanted to. That’s what I’m doing in the screenshot below:
While the functionality itself worked fine, the interface was a little awkward because the file names get cut off if you browse into too many child folders on your server.
Different Frontend Themes
In the section above, I showed you how the default theme looks. If you want to change things up, you can switch to one of the other three themes:
One nice thing here is that you can actually use different themes for different file categories, which gives you some flexibility.
Cloud Sync And File Locker Add-ons
I didn’t have access to these add-ons for testing, but if you purchase the plugin’s highest tier, you’ll also get access to:
- Add-ons to sync files with Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive
- Add-ons to add a social locker for Facebook or Twitter
Final Thoughts On WP File Download
WP File Download gives you a good-looking interface to both manage files on the back-end and display them on the front-end.
Thoughtful touches like dedicated Gutenberg blocks make it easy to insert your files, and the download stats and plugin settings make it easy to manage your files.
If you need a solution to manage downloads on your WordPress site, click below to learn more: