In order for wordpress to read/write the owner of the files/folders need to be www-data.

Now the problem is that if the owner is www-data of group filetransfer (www-data:filetransfer) then the FTP user ftpclient1 can login but does not have write permission to folders set to www-data:filetransfer because he's not the owner.

How can I make this work?

2 Answers 2


This guy Tom deserves a medal for this post on ServerFault

Setting group ID the way he explains made it work!

Attempting to expand on @Zoredache's answer, as I give this a go myself:

  • Create a new group (www-pub) and add the users to that group

    groupadd www-pub 
    usermod -a -G www-pub usera    # must use -a to append to existing groups
    usermod -a -G www-pub userb
    groups usera    ## display groups for user
  • Change the ownership of everything under /var/www to root:www-pub

    chown -R root:www-pub /var/www    # -R for recursive
  • Change the permissions of all the folders to 2775

     chmod 2775 /var/www 

    2=set group id, 7=rwx for owner (root), 7=rwx for group (www-pub), 5=rx for world (including apache www-data user)

    Set group ID (SETGID) bit (2) causes the group (www-pub) to be copied to all new files/folders created in that folder. Other options are SETUID (4) to copy the user id, and STICKY (1) which I think lets only the owner delete files.

    There's a -R recursive option, but that won't discriminate between files and folders, so you have to use find, like so:

    find /var/www -type d -exec chmod 2775 {} +
  • Change all the files to 0664

    find /var/www -type f -exec chmod 0664 {} +
  • Change the umask for your users to 0002

    The umask controls the default file creation permissions, 0002 means files will have 664 and directories 775. Setting this (by editing the umask line at the bottom of /etc/profile in my case) means files created by one user will be writable by other users in the www-group without needing to chmod them.

Test all this by creating a file and directory and verifying the owner, group and permissions with ls -l.

Note: You'll need to logout/in for changes to your groups to take effect!


Wordpress was unable to create wp-config.php file after using above procedure. I exectuted: chown -R root:www-data /var/www Then it worked. Perhaps the user www-data (not the group with the same name) should be made member of www-pub group to have it working. I did not try the last option.

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