Function and usage of download_url() in wordpress


Answers ( 1 )


    The download_url() function in WordPress is used to download a file from a specified URL to a local temporary file using the WordPress HTTP API. Here's a detailed explanation and sample usage:

    Function Signature

    download_url( string $url, int $timeout = 300, bool $signature_verification = false ): string|WP_Error


    • Purpose: This function is primarily used to download a file from a given URL to the server where WordPress is installed. It's useful when you need to fetch external resources and process them locally within your WordPress environment.
    • Temporary File: The downloaded file is stored in a temporary location. It's important to note that the file is not automatically added to the WordPress media library or any permanent storage.


    1. $url (string, required): The URL of the file you want to download. This should be a valid, accessible URL pointing to the file.

    2. $timeout (int, optional): The maximum time in seconds that the function will wait for the file to download. The default is 300 seconds. It's useful to adjust this in environments with slower internet connections or when downloading large files.

    3. $signature_verification (bool, optional): Determines whether to perform signature verification on the file being downloaded. By default, this is set to false. This is useful for security purposes, especially when downloading critical files.

    Return Value

    • Success: If the download is successful, it returns the filename of the downloaded file in the temporary directory.
    • Failure: If the download fails, it returns a WP_Error object containing details about the error.

    Sample Usage

    $url = ""; // URL of the file to download
    $downloaded_file = download_url($url);
    if (is_wp_error($downloaded_file)) {
        // Handle error
        echo 'Error: ' . $downloaded_file->get_error_message();
    } else {
        // Use the downloaded file
        // ...
        // IMPORTANT: Delete the temporary file

    Important Notes

    • Error Handling: It's crucial to handle errors effectively. The function may fail due to various reasons like network issues, file not found, etc.
    • File Deletion: As the file is downloaded to a temporary location, it's important to delete the file using unlink() after processing it. This is to ensure that your server doesn't get cluttered with unnecessary temporary files.
    • Security Considerations: When using download_url(), especially without signature verification, ensure the source is trustworthy as it could be a vector for downloading malicious files.

    This function is a powerful tool in WordPress for handling external file downloads and is especially useful in plugin and theme development where external resources are often required.

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