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Web Development Tools: How To Use FTP Correctly

Aubrey Phelps

FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a web development tool you will need to learn how to use if you wish to build a website…


If you are looking to build a website, you will have to learn how to use FTP. FTP or file transfer protocol, is basically a client that allows you to transfer files from one location to another.

In website context, you’ll be using FTP to transfer files on your computer to files on the server that your site is being hosted on. FTP clients have many options, but the following are five things you need to know to get started.

FTP Account

The first step of using your FTP client is setting up an account. In order to make an FTP client work with your hosting, you’ll have to login to your hosting account. Find the link in the hosting control panel where you can control the FTP options, and create a username and password. Make sure that you write down the hosting server address.

Adding Sites to Your FTP Client

Once you’ve set up the information on your hosting control panel, you can start adding your site or sites to your FTP client. Go to the site manager and create a site profile. You’ll have to put in your username, password and hosting server address to complete the profile. Now your FTP client will be connected to your hosting account. Just make sure you click connect.

Changing File or Directory Permissions and Attributes

Permissions and attributes are important for security measures as well as installing scripts. You can make changes by right clicking a file or folder and clicking properties. A window box will open up showing you the directory value, which is shown as 3 numeric numbers (usually 755). It will also show you read, write and executable options. The default settings are usually set up so that users cannot edit the file or folders.

Making Edits to Files

If you are working with an HTML or PHP file, you’ll frequently find yourself making edits to the code. Rather than editing on your desktop and rewriting the previous file, you can actually edit the file on the server. All you have to do is make sure that the admin has read and write privileges, and click edit to make the changes.

file transfer protocol

Creating New Folders and Batching File Downloads/Uploads

To create a new folder, all you have to do is to click the “add new folder” option in your client and name it. You can also download and upload multiple files at a time rather than doing one file at a time. Simply hold shift and click on the files you want to move. This will highlight the files. Then, transfer the files where you want them to go or drag and drop the highlighted files if the FTP client allows that option.

Batching allows you to do something else while you wait for files to be downloaded or uploaded. However, trying to move a whole folder can create problems with many FTP clients. When you want to transfer a whole folder, it’s a good idea to create a separate folder name and transfer all the individual files into that folder name. This will reduce download/upload time, reduce crashes, and make it easier to continue where you left off if something happens.

is a writer for Nethosting. In her spare time she loves to spend time with her husband and two dogs.

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