What Is FTP and How Do I Use It?

FTP icon

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You may or may not have heard the term, FTP, but it is something that can come in handy when creating a Web site. FTP is an acronym that stands for File Transfer Protocol. An FTP client is a program that allows you to easily move files from one computer to another.

In the case of creating a Web site, this means that if you create the pages for your site on your computer, either using a text editor or some other Web page editor, then you will need to move it to the server where your site will be hosted. FTP is the main way to do this.

There are many different FTP clients that you can download from the Internet. Some of these can be downloaded for free and others on a try before you buy basis.

How Does It Work?

Once you have your FTP client uploaded to your computer and you have an account set up with a home page hosting provider that offers FTP then you are ready to get started.

Open your FTP client. You will see several different boxes that you will need to fill out. The first one is the Profile Name. This is simply the name you are going to give to this particular site. You can call it My Home Page if you want to.

The next box is the Host Name or Address. This is the name of the server that your home page is being hosted on. You can get this from your hosting provider. It will look something like this: ftp.hostname.com

The other important things you will need to access your site are your User ID and Password. These are the same as the username and password that you gave when you signed up for the hosting service that you are trying to access.

You may want to click on the button that saves your password so you don't have to type it every time unless you have a security reason for not doing this. You may also want to go to the startup properties and change the initial local folder to automatically go to the place on your computer where you are keeping your home page files.

Once you have all your settings in place click on the button that says OK and you will see it connect to the other server. You will know this is complete when files show up on the right side of the screen.

For simplicity's sake, I recommend that you set up the folders on your hosting service exactly the same as you set them up on your computer so you will always remember to send your files to the correct folders.

Using FTP

Now that you are connected the hard part is behind you and we can start the fun stuff. Let's transfer some files!

The left side of the screen are the files on your computer. Find the file that you want to transfer by double-clicking on the folders until you get to your file. The right side of the screen are the files on the hosting server. Go to the folder you want to transfer your files to also by double-clicking.

Now you can either double click on the file you are transferring or you can single click on it and then click on the arrow that points to the right side of the screen. Either way, you will now have a file on your hosting server. To move a file from the hosting server to your computer do the same thing except click on the arrow that points to the left side of the screen.

That's not all you can do with your files using the FTP client. You can also view, rename, delete and move your files around. If you need to create a new folder for your files you can do that too by clicking on MkDir.

You've now mastered the skill of transferring files. All you have left to do is go to your hosting provider, log in and look at your Web site. You may need to make a few adjustments to your links but you now have a working Web site of your very own.