How to Setup and Use FTP

by Martin Malden

How to set up and use FTP is a question I often see – so here’s a layman’s description for newbies.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol – but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that once you’ve got it set up, using it is little different from using Windows Explorer.

It’s really easy.

Windows Explorer is the way you transfer files from one location to another on your PC. FTP is the way you transfer files from your PC to a location on the web.

You can, in fact, use Windows Explorer to transfer files from your PC to a location on the web, but it’s not always reliable and it lacks a lot of the functionality of a true FTP client.

So here’s what you need to do.

Setting up FileZilla:

Step 1: Install an FTP client on your PC. There are lots of FTP clients out there, but a free one that I heartily recommend is FileZilla.

You can download it here.

Step 2: Install it on your PC. During the set up process accept all the default settings, except for ‘Interface’ where you should select ‘Explorer’.

Step 3: Launch FileZilla and set it up to connect to your server. If you click the image below it’ll bring up a full sized picture in a new window so you can follow the instructions more easily.

Click the image above for a full sized picture – it will open in a new window.

Insert your domain name without the ‘ http://www ‘ in the host box (1 above). E.G.:  ‘ yourdomain.com ‘.

Insert your FTP username in the username box (2 above), and your FTP password in the password box (3 above).

Your FTP username and password may be the same as the initial username and password your web host gave you to log in to your control panel, but they may also be different.  If you’re not sure, check with them.

Leave the port box (4 above) empty (Filezilla will normally use the default). If you have problems enter ’21’ into this field.

Click ‘connect’.

If you’ve entered the details correctly you’ll see the tree structure of the folders and files on your server displaid in the bottom windows.

Directories (folders) will be on the left and files on the right, exactly the same as in Explorer.

In the top windows you’ll see the folders and files on your own PC – folders on the left and files on the right.

That’s it – pretty simple, huh?  Ok – you’re all set to go.

Transferring files:

To transfer a file from your PC to your server first select the destination folder on your server – that is, the folder on your server where you want the file to sit.

Then select the file on your PC from the pane on the right and drag it to the pane immediately below (lower right). When you drop it there Filezilla will transfer it to your server.

Hint: I keep the folders and files structure on my PC and my server absolutely in sync. I find this makes it easier to ensure I transfer the right files to the right locations.

Plus – if anything gets lost on your server, re-installing everything is very easy because all the relevant files are in one location and you can just drag and drop the whole lot in one go.

Filezilla will store the connection details for your server, so when you want to make transfers in the future just fire it up and click the drop down ‘Quick Connect’ menu.

Select the server you want to connect to and FileZilla will do its stuff.

That’s it. If you need any clarifications leave me a question in the comments area below.

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