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This article was originally published 48 months ago. The information, tips and techniques explained may outdated. Examples shown on this page may no longer work. Please consider this when viewing the below content.
As a web designer who uses FTP everyday, it’s really easy to forget that often website owners and bloggers may have never used FTP and so it may be confusing when someone like me says “just FTP the new stylesheet or functions file to the website”.
A client just pointed that out to me the other day. So I have included information in this post on how to use FTP, along with a link to an easy to use FTP tool to help manage your website files.
Additionally at the end of the article is an option to purchase a 40 minute tutorial video, for the cost of a cup of coffee here in Australia, in which I show the process of how you can use Filezilla, Notepad++ and 7zip to manage your website files, including backing up the files, updating files and using FTP to transfer files between your local computer and your website.
FTP is a way to transfer files between your local computer and your website server. It’s fast and effective.
FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a method of connecting to your website server from your local computer, to allow the transmission of files back and forth, between the two.
So if you have modified your stylesheet.css on your computer and you want to put that updated file to your website, then you use FTP. If you are using a backup plugin on your website and it has created a backup file, then you can use FTP to get that file from your web server, and add it to the local copy of your website files.
Possibly one of the easiest to setup and use, is Filezilla which you can download from here. Once you download and install the file, setup your first site:
1. Select New Site
2. Enter your domain name in the Host field.
3. Enter your cpanel username in the User field
4. Enter your cpanel password in the Password field.
Then connect to your website.
You can find out more about connecting to your website with Filezilla, from your hosting provider. Inside your website hosting cPanel is the option to setup additional FTP accounts, and if possible you may want to connect using SFTP (change the Protocol field shown in image above). To find out if SFTP is available, simply contact your hosting provider, or check their FAQ and Documentation pages. You will also need to enter the Port number if using SFTP.
When on the site manager screen as shown in image, you may want to switch across to the Advanced tab and setup a couple more settings:
1. Select a default local directory. This is the folder on your local computer where your copy of website files is stored.
2. Select a default remote directory. In this field you want to enter the path to your public folder on your web server. So this is where the files are stored that are viewable on the website. Often this is simply /public_html, however you can verify your folder name with your hosting provider.
Now that you are connected, you will see 2 columns as shown in the image below. On the left hand side are your local files on your computer’s hard drive (so what you see here will depend on what files you have on your hard drive). On the right hand side are your remote files (so the files that are on your web server).
You can drag files between the 2 columns, to transfer files to and from your website. Just remember that if you overwrite a local file with a remote file (or vice versa) then you are replacing that file.
This means that if you do not have a backup of the original file, then it is gone. So when you are using FTP you do want to be careful and mindful of what files you are replacing or changing, as any mistakes could result in messing up your website.
I always recommend that you put in place a backup system to ensure you have backups of all your files. In the video tutorial I go through a simple procedure, where you can compress and download your website files from your web server before starting to use FTP.
I would also recommend that you use a good backup plugin to backup your website files and your WordPress database files on a regular basis. At least that way if you ever make a mistake, or if something happens to your website, you will have backups to go to.
So there are some simple steps above to start using FTP to transfer your modified files to your website. For more information the 40 minute video tutorial is available below:
– purchase no longer available. Members can view the video below.
Premium Club Members can view video below: