Wednesday, February 10, 2021

PHP File Upload

Easy File Upload Funtion for PHP

Recently, I needed to create a script to upload and parse a file using ajax. As is well known, you cannot upload files using javascript or ajax. However, there are ways to make it appear to be done using ajax. Anyway, in the course of trying to find something I could use effectively, I came across a small script that manages the upload part. For the most part it did everything I wanted, but found there could be some improvements. The original script was written by Binny V A and found on this website:

Here I am just going to present this function. Soon I will present a full ajaxform script to upload files using this upload function.

Uploading a file is usually not just a one-line function. There are a number of elements that need to be checked and verified before a file can be successfully uploaded. I have made a number of improvements to the original function. Some deprecated code has been updated. Some functions that did not work have been updated. If the upload destination folder does not exist, it will now be created. You can now choose to overwrite an existing file with the same name or create a unique name for the file (appends a numerical to the file name).


  • Upload files using one line of code
  • Option to generate unique file name.
  • Returns saved file name.
  • Extensive error handling.
  • Create destination folder if needed.
  • File validation based on file extension.


upload($file_id, $folder="", $types="", $unique=false)

    The name of the input field containing the file.
    OPTIONAL - The folder to which the file should be uploaded to - it must be writable if already exists.
    OPTIONAL - A list of comma(,) separated extensions that can be uploaded. If it is empty, all file accepted
    OPTIONAL - Set to true to force unique name. Otherwise, existing file with same name is over-written.

The function returns an array of two values:

  • Upon success, the first value returned is the filen ame. On error, the value is blank.
  • Upon error, the second value returned is the error. Otherwise, this value is blank.


PHP Part

if($_FILES['image']['name']) {
    list($file,$error) = upload('image','uploads/','jpeg,gif,png',true);
    if($error) print $error;


<form action="" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
<input type="file" name="image" /><input type="submit" value="Upload" name="action" />


 * A function for easily uploading files. This function will automatically generate a new file name so that files are not overwritten.
 * Modified version of script from:
 * Arguments: $file_id - The name of the input field contianing the file.
 *            $folder - The folder to which the file should be uploaded to - it must be writable. OPTIONAL
 *            $types - A list of comma(,) seperated extensions that can be uploaded. If it is empty, anything goes. OPTIONAL
 *            $unique - By default, will over-write existing file with same name. Set to true to generate a unique filename. OPTIONAL
 * Returns: This is somewhat complicated - this function returns an array with two values...
 *          The first element is either blank for an error or the filename to which the file was uploaded to.
 *          The second element is the status - if the upload failed, it will be 'Error : Cannot upload the file 'name.txt'.' or something like that
function upload($file_id, $folder="", $types="", $unique=false) {

    $file_title = $_FILES[$file_id]['name'];
    if($file_title == '') return array('','No file specified.');

    /* check the file extension */
    $file_arr = explode(".",basename($file_title));
    $ext = strtolower($file_arr[count($file_arr)-1]);  /* get the last extension */
    $all_types = explode(",",strtolower($types));
    if($types) {
        else {
            $result = "The file '".$_FILES[$file_id]['name']."' is not a valid file type."; /* show error if any */
            return array('',$result);

    /* check the folder */
    if($folder) {
      /* remove the trailing slash for now to check directory */
      if(substr($folder,strlen($folder),1)=='/') {
        $folder = substr($folder,0,strlen($folder)-1);
      if(!is_dir($folder)) {
        if(!mkdir($folder,0777,true)) {
          $result = "Cannot create upload directory."; /* show error if any */
          return array('',$result);
      /* now add slash at end of directory name */
      $folder .= '/';

    /* generate a unique filename if required */
    $uploadfile = $folder . $file_title;
    if($unique) {
      $i = 0;
      while(file_exists($uploadfile)) {
        $uploadfile = $folder . $file_arr[0] . '_' . $i . '.';
        for($x=1;$x<count($file_arr);$x++) {
          $uploadfile .= $file_arr[$x];

    $file_name = $uploadfile;

    $result = '';
    /* move the file from the stored location to the new location */
    if (!move_uploaded_file($_FILES[$file_id]['tmp_name'], $uploadfile)) {
        $result = "Cannot upload the file '".$_FILES[$file_id]['name']."'";  /* show error if any */
        if(!file_exists($folder)) {
            $result .= " : Folder does not exist.";
        } elseif(!is_writable($folder)) {
            $result .= " : Folder not writable.";
        } elseif(!is_writable($uploadfile)) {
            $result .= " : File not writable.";
        $file_name = '';

    } else {
        if(!$_FILES[$file_id]['size']) { /* check if the file is actually uploaded */
            @unlink($uploadfile); /* delete any empty file */
            $file_name = '';
            $result = "Empty file found - please use a valid file.";  /* and show the error message */
        } else {
            chmod($uploadfile,0777); /* make the file writable */

    return array($file_name,$result);


delicious digg facebook stumble twitter myspace linkedin technorati reddit google springpad blogger | addthis Share More...