Send a file via POST with cURL and PHP

cURL is a great library. It can do just about anything that a normal web browser can do including send a file via a post request.

This makes it really easy to transmit files between computers. In my case, I was looking for an easy way to send images snapped by various webcam systems to a central server with php managing the images.

Here is a simple script to send a file with php/cURL via POST:


        $ch = curl_init();
	curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL,$target_url);
	curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST,1);
	curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $post);
        curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER,1);
	$result=curl_exec ($ch);
	curl_close ($ch);
	echo $result;

And here is the corresponding script to accept the file.

	if (move_uploaded_file($_FILES['file_contents']['tmp_name'], $uploadfile)) {
	    echo "File is valid, and was successfully uploaded.\n";
	} else {
	    echo "Possible file upload attack!\n";
	echo 'Here is some more debugging info:';
	echo "\n
\n"; print_r($_POST); print "\n"; ?>

And that's it.
Navigate to the 'send' script and it will transmit the file sample.jpeg to the accept script.

Note that you can include other arguments in the post along with the file. This allows you to authenticate the upload. I'm using pre-shared strings to 'validate' that upload came from my send script.

This works with the command line version of php too.


UPDATE Oct. 2014 – 

If you're using PHP 5.5 or better, check out the recently added 'CurlFile' class which makes the whole process a lot easier.



15 thoughts on “Send a file via POST with cURL and PHP

  1. Thank you so much, this little script worked perfectly! I used the extra post information to add a little extra security, and I need to add IP restriction, but this is a fantastic resource.

  2. It's  a good article  but I have  small problem with it .. 


    $result=curl_exec ($ch);
    curl_close ($ch);
    echo $result;


    The first line  " curl_exec "  sends the request and print the reply without needing to write echo $result .. 

    In my case , I don't need to echo the resule .. I jsut need to get it in a variable to manipulate it .. 


    How can I do that ? 


    • I should have set ‘CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER' to 1 to have curl save the result of the request to $result. I'll update the example.
      Thanks for the feedback.


  3. Great post, thanks a alot.

    I just wanted to point out you can set the MIME type of the posted file by appending the file's path with ';type=mime/type' and you can rename the file so it's posted under a different name by appending ';'.

    So to use the article's code as an example:

    $post = array('extra_info' => '123456','file_contents'=>'@'.$file_name_with_full_path.';type=image/jpeg;filename=a-differnent-name.jpeg');

  4. About CURL, i really need help to solve this problem.

    I want to upload video to Facebook from my server with CURL, not <form>. Because Facebook Apps documentation is poor. I was tried some snippets, but fail at all.

    Help me please :/


    // ——————- do request ———————+
    $ch = curl_init();
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_VERBOSE, 0);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)");
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $post_url);
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, true);
    curl_setopt( $ch, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, array(
             'Content-type: multipart/form-data;'
     ) );

    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $post);

    $response = curl_exec($ch);

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