You’ve done the design, you’ve organized the server and the hosting, and everything is ready to go. But how do you get all those HTML files from your computer onto the server?
Getting a website up and running can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to somehow build your website (this may involve hiring a web developer), but you also have to purchase web hosting and transfer your site to a web server, then migrate all of that into the one destination.
File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, has made this task a walk in the park. In fact, you can upload content to your site in a matter of minutes.
FTP is a standard network protocol that is used to transfer files from one computer to another. This is done over a TCP-connection, which in most cases is the internet. For our purposes we can look at FTP as the method for transferring all those files of code to a server. Once the site is on a server your clients can access your web page from their web browser. Your web hosting provider manages this server, leaving you free to run the rest of your business.
This process can work in either direction, meaning you can also download a file from a server via FTP. You can also use FTP for simple file transfers, such as updating your site with new pages, or just transferring images across the web.
How is it done?
There are a few different routes to get to FTP. You can use your web browser and type in: ‘ftp’ in place of ‘http’ in the address and connect to the server you desire. However, this is very limiting and doesn’t actually allow you to send files to a server. You can usually download files from a server through this method, but the options are limited. You will generally not be able to transfer all of the files that you’re looking for.
The easiest and most effective way of FTP is through a FTP client. An FTP client is a program that allows you to transfer files with ease. Most FTP clients are fairly easy to use and utilize a user-friendly interface.
However, if you feel ambitious and want to test your technical skills, you can transfer files through command line. This method is beyond the scope of this article, but consider referring to computerhope.com if you’d like a detailed description, along with the actual commands you’ll need to complete FTP in command line.
Which FTP client should I choose?
There are many options when it comes to the FTP client you should use. Here are four of our favorites here at Resell.biz:
- FileZilla – FileZilla is quite possibly the most popular FTP client. This can be credited to the easy-to-use interface, its open-source software (meaning it’s free, another major reason for its popularity) and its capability to work as a client across all platforms.
- Cyberduck – Cyberduck is another open-source FTP client that is free and easy to use. With Cyberduck you can easily edit files with your preferred editor and distribute your content in the cloud. This client is only available for Mac and Windows, but there is an optional command line interface for Mac, Windows and Linux.
- SmartFTP – SmartFTP is a bit more sophisticated than our first two FTP clients, but it is preferred by intermediate/advanced web developers. This very powerful and capable FTP client can download a mass of content at once, making it an ideal choice for larger sites. SmartFTP is only available for Windows.
- Transmit – Transmit is for the Mac lovers. Only available for Mac OS X, it is very powerful and allows for large file transfers. The high speed of Transmit makes it a popular choice for professionals.
If you’re just starting out using FTP, our recommendation is FileZilla due to its simplicity and the fact that it’s free. The Resell.biz KnowledgeBase provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete this process.
What do I need before I start using FTP?
Whatever client you choose, you’ll be required to enter a server name, a username, a password and a port. A port is kind of like a door on a server that you’ll need to open in order to have access. FTP generally uses port 21 by default, however you can use SFTP via port 22 as well. In order to use this secure FTP connection SSH does need to be enabled on your hosting account. In this article we will use the default FTP port 21.
You can obtain the rest of the logins from your web hosting provider. The hostname is commonly the domain name or the IP address. This is preferred as it keeps the DNS up-to-date. Make sure to keep your password secure and private as this grants you (and anyone that gets their hands on it) access to the server.
In some instances you should be able to sign in anonymously to a server. This is generally the case with open-source and freely distributed software. However, keep in mind that you’re not really that anonymous. Many public servers will require that you enter an email address as a password. This helps the server administrator track who is accessing the server’s files, eliminating potentially malicious activity.
FTP really is a simple process. If you’re planning on uploading multiple sites in the future we suggest you become familiar with an FTP client that you’re comfortable with. As you’ll be using this process over and over again as you enter the world of the web, it’s better to find one you like.
As always, Resell.biz support is here to help you through any process. Contact us for any issues you face while using FTP.