How to FTP
FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” and is the easiest way to upload files to a site on the Internet, especially if you want to send more than one file. You can think of it as sending files directly to the site through the backdoor, rather than going to the site through the front door and selecting files one at a time to upload through its web interface.
To send files via FTP, you need an FTP client, software explicitly designed for FTP. I like FileZIlla — it’s free, easy to use, and stable. You also need to make sure your webhost offers an FTP account with your hosting package — most paid hosts do, but some free webhosts only allow uploading files through their own web-based control panel. Avoid them.
Your webhost should have given you an FTP address to use. Usually this is ftp.yourdomain.com, but not always, so check. Also check your username and password in your hosting account’s preferences; it’s usually the same as the username and password you use to login to your hosting account, but again, not always. Many webhosts allow you to set up multiple FTP accounts (the idea being, on a large site with many administrators, you might want to allow one person access to only one directory, and another access to the entire site). If so, you can create an account in your administration panel at your host’s site, and select your won username and password.
Once you have these three pieces of information, you can set up your FTP client. Using FileZilla, select “File” and then “Site Manager”. A new window will pop up; click the “New Site” button and enter your FTP address in the “Host Name” blank. Select “Normal” from the “Logontype” drop-down, then enter your username and password. Hit “OK” to save it, or “Connect” if you’re ready to connect right now (this will also save your settings).
FileZilla will connect to your site and show the folders and files in the right-hand pane when it’s connected. You can select and open folders just like you would on your computer; to go back, click the folder with the “up” arrow at the top of the directory. On the left, you can drill down to the folder on your computer you want to upload files from. Select a folder or a bunch of files on your computer, and either right-click and select “Upload” or drag-and-drop them into the right-hand pane. To download files, do the reverse — select the file on the right-hand side and right-click and select “Download” or drag them into the left-hand window.
Moving large numbers of files — such as downloading the entire site to make a local backup — can take a while, and usually you can’t do anything else with the program while it’s uploading or downloading files. Moving one or two small files will go almost instantaneously.
Ah yes, ftp. I use it everyday to update my day book on my web site. I learned ftp on UNIX machines 20 years ago – there are some advantages to being “old.” The great thing about ftp is that I can put the repeated instructions in a text file and execute “ftp < foo.txt”