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FTP – Using File Transfer Protocol

An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is used to upload or download files on the Internet. These files might be in a website, blog or public platform, i.e., Facebook or some of the other sites that allow you to share pictures, videos, etc. In most cases of ‘public’ venues or blogs, you will use an FTP program within the platform that allows you to ‘browse’ your computer, ‘select the file’ and then ‘upload’ it. This makes uploading very simple.

What do you do if you want to upload something when a common FTP option is not available?  In this case you might use:

the FTP function available in the cPanel of your hosting provider,

a stand-alone FTP program dedicated to transferring files,

or one of the free FTP programs available for download on the Internet.

Regardless of which option you choose, the end result is the same . . . transferring files from your computer to a specified location on the Internet.

cPanel Upload

(Host Gator cPanel is used for this explanation)

After logging in to your cPanel you would access the Files Manager. You would then select the domain you want to work with and click ‘Go’. The next screen will show you all the files and folders within that domain. An ‘icon bar’ across the top allows you to

  • Create files
  • Create folders
  • Copy files
  • Rename files/folders
  • Upload
  • Download
  • Delete

To upload files you would select ‘Upload’.   This will open a new window that allows you to ‘browse’ through the drives in your computer and select the file to be uploaded.  At this time, you are also given the option to ‘overwrite’ the existing file. If you are making changes or updating a file you would select the ‘overwrite’ option, otherwise you would leave it unchecked.

To download a  file, highlight the file to be downloaded and select ‘Download’. A box will pop up asking you if you want to ‘Open’ or ‘Save’ the file – you would select ‘Save’ and then choose where you want to save it in your computer.

All of the cPanel options are menu driven so that you highlight the file you want to work with and then click the action you want in the icon bar.

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Note: You will also see an HTML editor in the same bar as uploading and downloading. This editor can be used for creating new files or editing existing ones by highlighting the file’s name and then clicking the icon for the editor. If you do not have a stand alone HTML program, this is particularly useful.

Stand Alone FTP

Once installed and configured to the IP address for the domain, the FTP program can easily upload and download files from your computer. To upload or download files you must connect through the domain IP address to the Internet using the FTP program. Once connected the screen will display the files located in the computer (left side) and files located in the domain (right side). Once this screen is available, all you need to do is to drag and drop the files you want to upload or download – left to right to upload; right to left to download. Again, you may be asked if you want to ‘overwrite’ the existing file. This is a good fail safe and keeps you from using duplicate names for different files or over-writing a file by accident.

Another feature of most paid programs is that they give you a ‘status box’ allowing you to follow along when uploading files with regards to:

  • File name
  • File size
  • Location
  • Progress
  • Date/time
  • Completion

Free FTP Programs

There are some acceptable free programs available for download, however, in most cases they require more steps to upload/download files and may come with built-in advertising. A few require you to input the log-in information (IP address, username, password) each time you want to upload a file which can become very tedious if you have to do a lot of work. However, if you don’t mind these inconveniences in favor of saving some money – then you will find they work pretty much the same as the stand-alone FTP program.

What’s the bottom line?   Uploading and downloading files are a routine part of maintaining a website and blog that is made easy by FTP. The main thing to remember when transferring files is to make sure to upload them to their proper place so as to avoid any 404 page errors.


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