FTP? What Is It? Why Do I Need It? How Do I Do It?

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FTP stands for file transfer protocol. Sound scary? Don’t worry, it’s not very scary at all.  Let’s go over the basics so you’ll feel comfortable throwing yet another acronym around at your next (possibly first) nerd party.

What is FTP?

FTP is nothing more than a way to move files from one computer to another over the internet.  Usually you’ll be doing this from your computer to your hosting account server, or from your server to your computer.

Why Do I Need To Do It?

From time to time you’ll need to move some files to your server to add functionality to your site (plugins) or to change the overall look and feel of your site (themes).  Luckily, you’ll do this mostly on your initial installation, before you are too concerned with whether or not things get a little screwed up.  So by the time you are running and posting on a regular basis you’ll feel completely comfortable with the process.

How Do I Do It?

All you really need is your FTP login information which should have been provided to you when you signed up for hosting, and an FTP client.  A “client” is just a fancy word for a program that is running on your computer.  My favorite FTP client is Filezilla because it is good and cheap.  In the blogging world “cheap” means FREE, at least to me.  What more can you ask for?

Once you’ve downloaded and installed your FTP client, you need to set up the connection to your server.  The image below shows what you need to do…just enter the appropriate information and hit the “Quick Connect” button.  You shouldn’t need to enter anything for the “Port” setting.

Setting up the FTP Connection in Filezilla

Setting up the FTP Connection in Filezilla

After you’ve connected, you should get a message similar to the one shown here telling you that everything went okay.

Filezilla Connected

Filezilla Connected

Once you’re comfortable with that, I’d recommend going into File->SiteManager and setting up a saved version using the same settings so that you’ll easily be able to reuse it without typing in the information all over again each time.  The one caveat is that you’ll need to change the “Logon Type” from “anonymous” to “normal”.

Site Manager--Permanent Connection Settings

Site Manager--Permanent Connection Settings

Once you’ve set up your account and connected, moving files from your computer to your server is as simple as browsing around and dragging and dropping files.  Need to move files from your server to your computer?  Same thing, just drag and drop!

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