Using FTP may seem quite scary at first, but it’s not that hard. If you have been using WordPress or Squarespace, you might have heard the word FTP before.
So, in this post, I’m going to take away that hesitation you may have and fill yourself up with the Sauce of Confidence.
But what does FTP mean in the first place?
It stands for File Transfer Protocol. And as the name suggests, we use this protocol or online service to transfer files from computers over TCP/IP-based networks, such as the Internet.
So the key takeaways are.
- We can use FTP to download, transfer, and upload different files from one location to another over the Internet.
- Website owners use FTP as a means of transferring their website files and or managing them.
Using FTP client to manage your website files
One more thing here, FTP is a file transfer protocol, and SFTP with the “S” stands for Secure, that is, Secure File Transfer Protocol.
So, here’s what we are going to do.
- Connect to our website with the help of an FTP client.
- Transfer some files over to our website.
- Remove/Add files in our website content folder.
- And BOOM! That’s it.
And I recommend using SFTP instead of simple FTP unless you’re working on localhost.
Now, the first thing we need is to set up a connection.
Downloading and installing the WinSCP FTP Client
Now, to get started, we need FTP Client software. It’s your preference to download FileZilla, WinSCP, or Cyber-Duck.
In this part of the tutorial, I will use WinSCP to download it, use this link.
From the download page, click on Download WinSCP (and whatever the latest version is).
Now, software installation is pretty straightforward, simple next clicks, and you’re good to go.
And when choosing the interface, click on Commander interface (I love this interface).
A man of curiosity? You can find more about interfaces here.
After installing the software, open it.
The interface will look similar to the one below.
Setting up the connection
To transfer the between our local computer and the website’s server, we need to connect both things.
And for the connection, we need the login credentials, as we do for our Facebook account.
Fill in the login details.
- Enter the hostname = Your IP Address.
- Port = Check your host (usually it’s 21).
- Username = Check your host (usually by default it’s ”root”).
- Password = Check your host.
Most Hosting providers will send you the login credentials for FTP access to your website. And if they don’t, then you can request one from their support team.
If your hosting provider is giving you cPanel access for managing your website, then the FTP login credentials are the same as your cPanel.
After logging in to your FTP Client, you will see something similar to this.
From here, you can manage everything about your site, plugins, themes, administrator access, CSS Js, image, except Databases.
Your files and their locations
Maybe you don’t see an interface similar to up (when you first log in) because you are in the root folder if you have complete access over the website.
You can go up and up by double-clicking the first folder icon. Above that, you will see the folder location.
Mostly all your website files are located under /var/www/ directories.
All the themes, plugins, and admin files, are located under the wp-content directory.
Changing the folder location
To change the location of the folder, click on the address, and enter the specific path.
Left and Right panels of WinSCP
Both the panels work on the drag and drop functionality.
You can drag the files you want to upload to your website server from the left panel and drop them to the right panel.
And to download the files, drag the files from the right panel and drop them in the left panel.
How to Download your Files?
To download any file from your website, locate the file and right-click the file you want to import, and click on download from the options.
To download the files, you can also use a shortcut key, F5, from your keyboard.
Your downloaded files will be in the folder opened (to the left section of the software).
How to Upload your Files?
Let’s see how you can upload the files to some specific location on your website.
To upload the file, open the folder in your website’s server (on your right) where you want the uploaded files.
Then from the left of the software interface, right-click on any files you want to upload, and from the options, choose Upload.
You will see a file uploading status.
Now, following this pattern, you can download and upload any file from your website.
Downloading and uploading the files is easy, but the time it takes depends upon your internet connection and the file size.
Can you upload themes and plugins the same way?
Yes, the upload process is the same for all the files.
Downloading and installing the FileZilla
Now, for this part of the tutorial, I will download and install the FileZilla software.
To download the FileZilla client, use this link.
Click on, Download FileZilla Client.
Connecting to FileZilla
After installing the FileZilla software, open it.
Add the login details for the website server, and click on Quickconnect.
You will see a message right after that, and your client will connect to your site server.
The interface of the FileZilla
Like the WinSCP interface, the FileZilla interface is divided into two parts.
The right part if from your computer, and the left panel is from your website server.
You can drag-and-drop the files from one part (left/right) to another part.
If you drag-and-drop the files from the left panel to the right, you are uploading files on your web server and vice versa.
So there you have it, you can work with your files and close the software afterward.
I hope after reading this post, you might feel super comfortable with the FTP now.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, it’s a set of rules that is used to transfer files from one’s computer to their website server and vice versa.
It is used to transfer files from computers over TCP/IP-based networks, and it’s quite easy and quick to use.
The three main transfer modes are, Stream mode, Block mode, and compressed mode.
The main difference between these two files transfer protocols, is the letter S with the SFTP, that stands for secure. It means SFTP uses a secure path to transfer the files, and FTP doesn’t.
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.
Both are the file transfer protocol layers, and both are used to transfer files from one computer to another.
HTTP is best for the transfer of smaller files, like small webpages, or something KiloBytes which might be a great rule of thumb. And FTP is good for the transfer of large files, that is why we use it to back up our websites.