Do you have a WordPress website and are looking for better ways to share files with clients? If so, you may need to use a file-sharing plugin.


As the world’s most popular CMS (Content Management System), WordPress has a lot of flexibility when it comes to, well, almost anything! But one place it lacks is with file sharing. This is because WordPress was never intended to be a platform to share files. But with the right tools in place, you can use WordPress to host, share, and even request files from your clients.


In this article, I'll show you why the WordPress media library isn't always the best solution for file sharing and a few different options for overcoming those hurdles and making it work.


Table of contents



Why you may need to host and share files on WordPress


Businesses need a quick way to share files for many reasons. Let’s go through four of the most common:

1) Sharing onboarding documents

When you start working with a new client, you will need to share certain documents with them. These could include your terms and conditions, invoices, questionnaires, and specific documents outlining your processes. It’s helpful if these onboarding documents are kept in one place, and a WordPress plugin is ideal if you already use this CMS because you can then keep everything together on your own website.


Further reading: 10 Essential Documents You Need For High-Value Client Projects

2) Accessing client deliverables

When you’re working with clients, you’ll have deliverables. You might need to ask your clients to upload certain documents so you can do your job. You might have a team that requires the ability to share files with each other and clients.


WordPress enables secure 24/7 access for file uploads without your direct involvement if you use the right file-sharing plugin and a login. Your team will be more productive, your workflows will be smoother, and you will have happy clients!

3) Creating resource libraries

Resource libraries are another benefit of using a WordPress file-sharing plugin. You can create resource libraries for your team or your clients to find useful information.


For example, if you're an accountant you could include useful resources like a jargon buster cheatsheet, software comparison and recommendations, and a monthly accounting checklist to help your clients work with you.


A portal for a bookkeeping course


Further reading: Using Client Portal to deliver educational content to your clients (with examples)

4) Selling digital products

Did you know you can sell digital products (like templates, checklists, worksheets, and more) on WordPress? If you have the right file-sharing portal that integrates with WooCommerce, you can add this passive income stream to your business.



Check out the live Digital Downloads Shop Portal


Username: tompickle

Password: customerportal638


How to use the WordPress media library to host and share files

When you log in to WordPress, you will find the Media Library in the sidebar. This is where you can upload images, videos, documents, and other files that you want to use on your site. You can find these documents by using the filter in the top tabs.


Screenshot showing the Media Library in WordPress
The Media Library in WordPress


The Media Library is where all files that you upload anywhere in WordPress will live. For example, if you create a blog post and add an image, it will automatically be stored in the Media Library.


The problem with the WordPress media library for hosting and sharing files


The Media Library is great for having a central place to access all the files used on your WordPress website. However, it was never intended to be a file sharing solution akin to Dropbox or Google Drive.


Here’s why:

1) Your files are never fully private

When you upload files to WordPress, the media library generates a public URL for each file.


Screenshot showing the public URL in the media library
All files in the Media Library get a URL that is visible to anyone


A public URL means anyone with that URL can access the file.


This isn’t always a problem if you aren’t sharing files with sensitive information or paid content. The likelihood of someone finding the URL is pretty small, so you can make a judgment call on whether adding extra security is worth the time.


But if you’re sharing anything confidential, you don’t want to use the WordPress media library alone. You need a plugin that keeps your files safe and secure.

2) There’s no client-facing interface in the media library

Another restriction with using the Media Library to store and share files is the fact there’s no client-facing interface. So, suppose you need to give your clients access to a file. In that case, you must send them the URLs individually or provide them access to your entire WordPress backend, which isn’t a great experience, not to mention the security problems that would cause.

3) There’s no way to organize files into folders

If you have multiple files you want to send together, you cannot put them in a folder in the media library. You need to send each URL individually which, again, wouldn't make for the most professional experience.

4) You can’t have files available to purchase

Finally, the media library does not offer a paywall option, so you can’t differentiate between free and purchasable content. This is only an issue if you plan on selling files, but it's one worth considering since paid content can add a lot of value to your business.


In essence, the WordPress media library only offers basic file management. So, if you want greater flexibility, you’ll need to use a WordPress file-sharing plugin.


What to look for in a file-sharing plugin for WordPress


When you’re looking for a suitable file-sharing plugin, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure it has as standard:


  • Support for multiple file types. The file types you need are unique to you. But as a standard, you want any file-sharing plugin to support images, video, audio, and documents. (Quick tip: If your chosen solution doesn’t offer a particular file type, as long as it supports zip files, you can zip up any file and upload it that way).
  • A private file option. Check whether the plugin has private file security, especially if it uses the WordPress media library, so you can keep sensitive documents safe and secure. Pay attention to how the plugin handles the public URL and don't be afraid to contact them to double-check if it's not clear from the website.
  • An easy-to-use interface. This is especially important if you are giving access to non-tech-savvy clients. The simpler the system, the fewer questions you’ll have to answer. So you can get on with your working day free from any interruptions!
  • Option for cloud-based hosting for larger files. If you upload a lot of files, or if your files are large, you will be better off using a cloud storage system like Google Drive to host your files. Ensure the plugin integrates with these tools to keep your WordPress website lightweight and fast.


Top 5 plugins for hosting and sharing files

1. Client Portal

Client Portal is a WordPress plugin trusted by over 8,000 companies worldwide. It fully integrates with your WordPress media library for an easy file-sharing user experience. This top-recommended file-sharing plugin adds an extra layer of security for private files and blocks access to the public URL. It’s an ideal platform for giving clients access to files. Still, it offers so much more than standard file-sharing capabilities.



Client Portal is a fully customizable platform with a client-facing dashboard and email notifications. You can use Client Portal with popular file storage solutions like Google Drive or Dropbox by linking directly to these folders or embedding them into a content page.


So there’s no need to change how you currently work, and you can keep your website light and fast by hosting larger files elsewhere and pulling them into Client Portal.


Screenshot of a customer portal
Store free or premium files in Client Portal


If you sell digital downloads or educational content, your customers can purchase multiple portals with the WooCommerce integration. So you can easily separate paid and unpaid content and give customers different ways to access your resources.

2. WP Cloud Plugins

WPCloud plugins screenshot


WP Cloud Plugins is an excellent file-sharing plugin that connects popular cloud-based software to your WordPress website. You can host your files with Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box. Then, you can create a widget that you can embed anywhere.


WP Cloud Plugins work really well with Client Portal. For example, you could embed your Google Drive folders into a Client Portal content page to create both a file-sharing and client portal solution.

3. Document Library Pro


Document Library Pro is a fast WordPress file-sharing plugin that allows you to instantly search, sort and filter files. There’s no limit to your document libraries; you can choose between table, grid and folder layouts. The plugin has over 50 customizable options. You can store documents in your WordPress media library or elsewhere, such as Dropbox and SoundCloud. Document Library Pro also allows you to make some libraries private.


The user interface is clean and modern, which makes this easy to use for non-tech-savvy clients. It allows you to preview files in most formats. Customers typically love the ease of set up and rave about the quality of support from Barn2.

4. Advanced File Manager

Advanced file manager screenshot


Advanced File Manager is a popular file-sharing plugin with hundreds of thousands of downloads worldwide. The core plugin is free and completely open source. It allows you to organize your files in the WordPress media library. It has an editable root directory, giving you and other users flexibility over how your files are used. This plugin also has preview, edit, and drag-and-drop functions, offering a good user experience. Due to having a powerful performance server, Advanced File Manager won’t slow down your website.


However, in order to use this as a file sharing plugin with clients, you need to purchase the Shortcode add-on. This will allow you to display your files on your website to logged in or logged out users. If you're using Client Portal, you could also use this add-on to display the files in a content page.


The main downside to this plugin is its user interface is dated. However, it is powerful and inexpensive so would be good for smaller businesses looking for a low-cost solution.

5. Shared Files Pro

Shared Files Pro Screenshot


Shared Files Pro is an easy-to-use file-sharing plugin that allows password-protected security. You can categorize files and keep everything organized, which is ideal if clients need access to files. There’s a clear separation from your WordPress media library. You can also limit the number of downloads per file. Shared Files Pro has a Lightbox feature viewing experience, so you and your clients can quickly browse through any files.


Customers find this plugin easy to use with good functionality. However, it's important to note that the free version doesn't include a front-end option or support for shortcodes so if you wanted to use it on your website for clients, you would need the pro version.


Our verdict: the best file-sharing plugin for WordPress


We think Client Portal is the best file-sharing plugin in WordPress. This is because it allows you to display and share files in a beautiful dashboard that can be used with clients or for paid digital products. It's a complete solution as opposed to just file sharing on its own. If you did just want file sharing on its own, our second recommendation would be WPCloudPlugins if you use Google Drive or Dropbox, or Document Library Pro if you want to organize your files within WordPress.


However, it's worth pointing out that Client Portal can be combined with any of the file-sharing plugins we've shared, if you want to use both.


4 steps to share files and documents in WordPress


We'll be using our number 1 plugin pick, Client Portal to show easy it is to share files in WordPress.

Step 1: Install and activate the Client Portal plugin

First, grab a copy of Client Portal here.




  • Navigate to Plugins → Add New → Upload Plugin in your site's admin area to upload the product to WordPress.
  • Select the ZIP that came in the email after purchasing the plugin.
  • Click Install Now followed by Activate Plugin.
  • Paste in your license key (which you can find in your confirmation email) and click Activate.


Now, let's set up your portal and get your files added.

Step 2: Add your branding and company information

Navigate to Client Portal Settings where you can adjust your branding and add your logo to make the portal fit seamlessly into your website.


Step 3: Create a new portal

Click Add New to create a new portal. This is where you will add your files.


To see a comprehensive guide on how to set up and use Client Portal, check out the video below:


Step 4: Add your files

Once you have your portal set up, you can choose any module to add files to. Simply click the module and choose "Files".


Screenshot showing how to add files in to Client Portal


Use the Media Library to upload your files.


Screenshot showing the media library upload screen


Here's what the module will now look like to your clients:


Client view of the file uploads


Quick tip: You can also use the Client Uploads module type to allow clients to upload files. Here's what that looks like:


Step 4: Share your portal (and your files)

By default, all portals are private so you have full control over who can access your files. To add a client to your portal, follow these steps:


  • Navigate to Users - Add New
  • Add your clients details
  • Under Role, select CP Client
  • Assign your portal to them and they'll be sent a link to set their password and log in


Alternatively, you can set your portal to Public so anyone can see your files without needing to log in.


Screenshot showing the option to make a portal public


If you would like to make your portal available to purchase, you can use our WooCommerce integration to earn some money from your portals.

Step 5: Integrate a third-party file sharing plugin for extra customizability (optional)

You can embed any of the file-sharing plugins that we reviewed above with Client Portal by simply adding their shortcodes into a content page.


This is particularly useful if you don't want to store large files in your WordPress media library. You could use WPCloudPlugins to keep your files in Google Drive and display them in your portal, keeping your website lightning fast.


Here's what that could look like in Client Portal:


Screenshot of WPCloud embedded into a portal


Alternatively, if you don't want to use another plugin, you can use the URL module in Client Portal and link to a Google Drive (or any cloud storage system) folder.


Final thoughts


If you need an easy way to share files with clients, you need a simple, fast plugin with a user-friendly interface. It should have useful features and integrations that make everybody’s life easier, like integrations with cloud-based storage platforms for larger files and extra layers of security for private files—especially if hosted in the WordPress media library.


Giving your clients access to a 24/7 file-sharing portal allows them to upload files any time of the day without your involvement. So you won’t have to spend hours trying to find missing files. Instead, you can continue your working day without any time-consuming calls.


Client Portal is a straightforward WordPress plugin that does much more than your average file-sharing plugin. It is flexible and fully customizable, whether you’re a small business, a law firm, or a marketing agency. It has a private file upload option, notifications, and a simple user interface that any non-tech-savvy person can use. The best bit is that you won’t need a developer to install and use the Client Portal plugin; the drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for anyone to use.


Why not build a flexible (and beautiful) file-sharing system with Client Portal? Find out more…