How to Migrate Your WordPress Media Library to Amazon S3 on the CHEAP!

One thing has irked me over the years is the near monopoly that Delicious Brains holds on the WordPress-to-S3 market AND their corresponding price-gouging and strange pricing for their S3 plugin. Just yesterday, for example, I received an “paid upgrade required” notice in the middle of an upload! Here’s how to break their monopoly and migrate your WordPress media library to S3 on the cheap.

Step 1: Upload your media library to Amazon S3.

There are lots of ways to do this. If you have access to WP-CLI, then you might try Humanmade’s S3 Upload plugin. Otherwise, you can use Cyberduck or Amazon S3’s native gui web console. UPDATE: I’ve been having great luck migrating the WordPress media library to S3 with the $3.99/mo version of MediaCloud’s S3 plugin (go ahead and cancel your monthly Media Cloud plan after migrating! e.g. You’re out a meager $3.99 rather than hundreds that you’d pay Delicious Brains for the same service).

If you haven’t already, make a full site backup, as the steps below will change both your file structure and your database.

Assuming you’ve purchased MediaCloud’s plugin @ $3.99/mo (remember, you can cancel tomorrow!), go to the “Media Cloud”->”Settings” menu and add “wp-content/uploads/” to the upload path as follows:

This is the Media Cloud S3 plugin’s “Upload Path” setting for DURING migration to S3.

(Technically, the above step is optional, however, I like to use it, since it’s the default WP structure.)

Then go to “Media Cloud”->”Migrate to Cloud” and select the following options:

media cloud s3 settings for bulk uploading migrate to cloud

Then go ahead and click “Start Migrate to Storage”.

Step 2: Either Search and Replace Media URLs in your database and theme OR Update .htaccess OR use Redirection WP plugin

NOTE: If you used the paid version ($3.99) of the Media Cloud plugin to upload your files, the media files’ urls have already been rewritten, however, any references to the files in the theme or plugins (Yoast, Email log, Redirection, Divi, Beaver Builder, etc.) will need to be updated – so make sure you still do a search-and-replace for the urls.

OPTION 1: Search & Replace the database

If you are on an NGINX server or don’t have access to edit your .htaccess file, you’ll (unfortunately) need to run a search-and-replace on your WordPress database. If this is the case for you, use the free version of Better Search and Replace plugin (by Delicious Brains – teehee!) to replace instances of “your_website.org/wp-content/uploads” with “your_bucket.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads” as follows:

NOTE: Even if you use Option 1, I still recommend doing Option 3, as some themes and plugins use a “relative url” rather than “your_website.com…” (I’m looking at you, Divi!!!).


OPTION 2: .htaccess update

If you DO have access to your .htaccess file, then the solution is much simpler – just add this after the “RewriteEngine On” line:

# BEGIN Utilize S3 bucket rather than localhost for "uploads" folder - Via https://tinyurl.com/s3redirect
RewriteRule ^wp-content/uploads/(.*)$ https://bucket_name.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/$1 [R,L]
# END Utilize S3 bucket

OPTION 3: Redirection Plugin

If you decide to use the free Redirection plugin do the following (also see example screengrab below):

Source url: /wp-content/uploads/(.*)$
Target url: https://your_bucket_url.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/$1
Type: Regex
This is the Redirection WordPress Plugin’s setup for S3-enabled sites.

Step 3: Install and Activate the Free WP Offload Media Lite WordPress Plugin OR deactivate the Media Cloud license.

Either install and activate the free WP Offload Media Lite plugin and configure it to connect to your bucket OR deactivate your Media Cloud license if you used that plugin to upload to S3. If you are using the Media Cloud plugin, update your “Upload Path” and “Delete…” settings as described in the screengrabs below:

This is the Media Cloud S3 plugin’s “Upload Path” setting for AFTER migration to S3.
Change your “delete” settings within the Media Cloud S3 plugin.

That’s it – you’re done! Go ahead and rename your “uploads” folder to test it out; if all looks good, delete your local “uploads” folder!

Recap

To recap, completing the above steps accomplishes the following:

  1. Your media library is now on S3.
  2. Your media urls now reference only S3.
  3. New media uploads will be uploaded and loaded from S3.

Notes

Here’s an error message I received from the paid version of Delicious Brains’ S3 plugin (Agh! The pain!). Fwiw, 20,000 media uploads isn’t actually that many uploads. In fact, every single image you upload to WordPress might create 5-10 additional “attachments” of that image (e.g. 1 upload = 11 attachments); the WordPress default is 3 additional attachments for every 1 image you upload.
  • This post turned into an accidental advertisement for Media Cloud, but I assure you that I’m not affiliated with them, nor am I accepting anything from them for this post. I just found their plugin to be wonderful and CHEAP!

Toby Cryns

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