How to Use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to Manage Website Files and Folders

My next training piece for you is how to use FTP software. Each website has a directory of folders and files. These folders and files contain all of the scripts, images, logos, design files, html or php files — basically everything that combined make a website.

To access these behind-the-scenes files and folders you would need FTP (file transfer protocol) software. This allows you to transfer files to and from your personal computer.

The free and easy to use software that I have been working with for years is called Core FTP. Below are some step-by-step instructions to installing the free software and for using it.

  • Go to http://www.coreftp.com/download
  • We want the first option “Core FTP LE 2.1 : free version”
  • Click on “www.coreftp.com” – when you do a pop up box will appear. Click “Save File” and save this to your desktop.
  • Go to your desktop and you will see the new file labeled “coreftplite”. Double click on that (Note: If you have Vista a pop-up box will appear asking for your permission to proceed, click “Allow”)
  • Follow the setup wizard instructions (Click Next >> Next >> Next >> Next >> Next >> Next >> The progress bar will appear letting you know the software is being installed >> Finish)
  • Your computer will need to be restarted to complete the installation. Go ahead and do that next.
  • Once you have completed the last step, click on the CoreFTP icon that has been added to your desktop to open the program.

To Use the Software:
ftp-setup

  • At the bottom left corner of the program, click “New Site”.
  • On the right hand side you will need to enter in information about this website. Give it a “Site Name” (a title only for your purposes).
  • Next we will need to enter in a Host (your website domain — www.example.com), a Username and Password. The username and password was created once you set up hosting for your website. If you are unsure of this information, contact your Internet service provider (ISP) or the company where you host your website.
  • Next, make sure your Port is set to 21 (this rarely will be a different number, again, ask your hosting company or ISP).
  • Next, make sure your Timeout is set to 60, and Retries set to 10.
  • The last set for setting up your site is to select the “Connection” from your drop down menu — select “FTP” (this rarely will be a different setting, again, ask your hosting company or ISP).
  • Next, click the “Connect” button. (If you are unable to connect it is usually because you have the wrong username, password, port number or connection.)
  • Now that we have created our site and customized the settings, we are connected and ready to use the FTP software.
    ftp-panel

  • On the left panel you will see the files and folders in your personal computer. On the right panel you will see the files and folders of your website.

Let’s Upload a File to Your Website.

Why would you want to do this? Well, maybe you want to have an audio file on your blog post. You need to upload that file onto your Website so that it can play on your website. Or, maybe you want to replace your logo. You can upload your new image file and replace it with your old logo image file. You can do all sorts of things once you know how!

To set up this example, let me say that we are going to first find the folder in our website that we want to place this audio file. Then we will find the audio file on our personal computer. Then we will transfer that file from our computer, into the website folder. Here are the steps:

  • You always want to move files into the “public_html” folder of your website (right panel). So you would double click the “public_html” folder to get to the files of your website. Then you would see a directory of files and folders where your media can be placed. Let’s, for this example, pretend there is a “media” folder already set up for you inside of the public_html folder. We would double click that media folder to reveal the contents in that media folder where we want to place our audio file.
  • So, what we would do next is find the audio file on your computer (using the left panel). Just above the “Filename” column on the left panel, you will see an icon that looks like a directory. Click on that to open up the main folders or drives on your computer. Let’s say your audio file was on the desktop (so you would then click Desktop out of the drive options in that directory icon).
  • Double click “Desktop”, find your file in the list of files that appear in the left panel. Then you want to select that audio file by clicking it one time.
  • Next you want to select the folder (in the right panel – your website where you want this file to be placed. For this example let’s say there is a “media” folder set up in your directory.
  • At the middle of your screen you will see an arrow pointing left and an arrow pointing right. This will indicate the direction the file is headed. So, in this instance, you would select the file and click the arrow pointing right. You will notice the file transferring into that media folder. Then you are done!

To reverse:

  • Let’s say you have an audio file in the media folder of your website that you want to transfer to your computer so you can edit it.
  • You would find the media folder in your website directory (right panel). You would double click it, find the audio file you want to transfer.
  • Then you would find the spot on your computer you want the audio file to be placed (Desktop, for example). So, in the directory icon above the “Filename” column (on left panel), select Desktop.
  • Then select the audio file from your website directory, this time click the arrow pointing left (toward your computer panel). And watch as the file gets transferred into your Desktop.

To Review:
FTP is a fast, easy, free way for you to transfer files to and from your website.

A VERY IMPORTANT TIP:
Your website files exist in one place…FTP. There is only 1 set of files. It is VERY wise to create a folder on your computer called “Website Files” or something similar. Before you transfer a file to your computer to edit it, be sure to transfer a copy of that file into this “Website Files” folder as a backup.

Because, if you make a mistake on editing that file, you won’t be able to go back and get a clean version if you’ve already overwritten the file by transferring it back to your website panel.

I keep bi-weekly backups of all client’s entire website panel just to be safe. But not all ISP’s do that. ALWAYS keep a backup!

For additional training on this topic, visit http://www.coreftp.com/doc/. You will find step-by-step guides with screenshots of the following topics:

  • Connecting to a server (your website)
  • Transferring Files
  • Editing Files
  • Schedule FTP Transfers
  • And more!
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