How to Use FTP to Upload Your Website Files

If you need to transfer website files from your computer to a server to get it online you’ll need to use File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Some folks upload files from their web hosting control panel (e.g. cpanel) however this is not as easy and often leads to errors. FTP enables you to quickly and easily transfer a large volume of files.

Requirements for FTP

  • FTP software
  • FTP login information
  • Website files to be uploaded (transferred)

FTP software

Free FTP software can be obtained from the Net by downloading FileZilla or SmartFTP. A reliable paid version is WS_FTP Professional.

FTP login information

Get your FTP username and FTP password from your web host. The Host/Server is the name of the server or host e.g. yourdomain dot com or an IP address. When you connect to the Web, files can be transferred using the binary or ASCII mode.

So how do you know which files to upload in Ascii or Binary?

  • Binary mode is for uploading binary files e.g. music, images, video, etc.
  • ASCII mode is for uploading plain text files e.g. Notepad

If you can view the files in a text editor such as notepad (e.g. html, js, css, etc) upload them using ASCII mode. If the files consist of images, video, audio, zip files, executables, etc upload them in Binary mode. If you upload files in the wrong mode they may get corrupted. This mostly occurs when uploading scripts.

Set your FTP software to “Auto”

You can set your uploads to “auto” on most FTP software programs. it compares the file type you are transferring with a list of known file types and sets it automatically to binary or ascii. This is usually the default setting when first starting your FTP program.

How to Use FTP to Upload (Transfer) Your Website Files

  • Connect to the web after entering your host name, username and password in the FTP software
  • 2 document windows will appear
  • 1 window will display the files on your computer (local browser window)
  • The second window will display files on the server (remote browser window)
  • Drag the files from the local browser window to the remote browser window
  • The files will start uploading (transferring) to the server
  • Duplicate files on the server will automatically be replaced
  • When all the files have been transferred your website will appear on the Web

Setting CHMOD permissions

CHMOD is a Unix command that tells the system what access it will allow for a file. The command is primarily used to set permissions for Perl CGI scripts and the files associated with them.

Scripts often require different permissions when uploaded to the server. Make sure you read the readme file that comes with your script to find out what permissions are needed. If you don’t use the correct ones you’ll receive ugly script errors.

For most website owners they’ll spend 99% of the time transferring html pages and image files (not scripts). Since most FTP software is set by default to “auto” they won’t have to worry if the files are binary or ascii.