Knowledgebase: Tech TIPS
Ftp tutorial
Posted by Roy Petersen on Feb-15-2007 12:16 PM
Tutorial: FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

FTP is a protocol that allows two computers to transfer files to each other. This is done by establishing a connection between an "ftp server" (our servers) and an "ftp client" (a FTP client software running on your computer). FTP is one of the Internet's earliest protocols, and was created before the world wide web.

To put your website on the Internet so that others can reach it, you must first "upload" your website to our server. This is done by using a FTP client, that you should download if you don't already have one.

Here are a few FTP clients we recommend:
For Windows: For Macintosh:
Now, to login to an FTP server, you need to be assigned a username and password. This will be given to you once you signup for a hosting account at diyhosting.ca.

On this tutorial, we will use Core FTP as an example.

Step 1: Connecting to a server

In order to connect to a FTP server, we will first set up a site in the Site Manager.

To get to the Site Manager, click on the button on the top left hand of the screen
or the button on the right side of the main window


Step 1a: Site Manager
You should now be at the Site Manager. The first step is to create a new site profile.

Click on the "New Site" button and new site profile will be created for you (you may change the site name to whatever you wish, it is only for reference).

The first important piece of information needed is the server hostname or internet address (IP). The server hostname is the name of the server you wish to connect to. It can be in the form of a host name (i.e: ftp.yourdomain.com) or an IP (internet address, i.e: 127.192.111.10).

The next piece of information you will need is your login information. Enter your username and password in the corresponding fields. If you are connecting to an anonymous server (i.e. ftp.microsoft.com), click on the "Anonymous" button and the username and password will be automatically entered for you.

If you are designing your own website, this information comes from your us and was most likely emailed to you when you signed up.

The rest of the information provided should be the default for most FTP servers. Once you have entered your login information, you may now hit "Connect".


Step 1b: Connecting...

You should now see the following 'connecting' dialog as the connection is attempted.




If the connection cannot be established, it will timeout and retry.

Press cancel or press escape if you do not want to wait to connect.

 

Step 1c: Connected!

You should now be connected! The main window will be displayed and now files can be transferred.




Step 2: Transferring Files

Now that a connection has been established to the server, files can now be uploaded and downloaded.

Just to clarify the difference between uploading and downloading:

'Uploading' files is the process of sending files from your computer to a remote server.

'Downloading' files is the process of receiving files by your computer from a remote server.

In this screen, the file list on the right is the server's (remote) directory of files. The file list on the left side is your local computer's directory of files (on your hard drive or network).

 

Step 2a: Downloading

To download a file, simple click on the remote list of files, selecting the files you would like to download to your computer. In this illustration, the remote files are on the right side of the screen, the left side is your local directory. Once you have selected the files you want, click and hold down on the left mouse button and drag the selected files over the the local directory. Once you have dropped the files on the local directory, the download will begin. You can alternatively right click on the remotely selected files, and select 'download' from the context menu.

 


Step 2b: Downloading

You should see the following 'download' begin to take place. The files you selected on the remote computer should now begin to transfer. The progress of each download is listed in the transfer manager. In this scenario we are downloading a large file, but in most cases you will be uploading or downloading small files that transfer very quickly.

 


Step 2c: Downloading

If the transfer was successful, you will now see the file in your local directory.

Uploading is the exact opposite. When uploading, you will move files from your local directory on the left, to the remote directory on the right.

Simple, right?!

Once you have successfully downloaded and uploaded a few files, you will see how easy FTP really is to use.


Just about all FTP clients follow a basic concept: the left side of the program contains a window that shows your computer's directories, and the right one shows your account's directory, where you will place your website.

When you login, you will see various files and at least one directory on the right side (your hosting account's directory). This directory is named www. This is actually the web site folder for the specific user that you logged in as, and is where you should publish your main web site.

/www/ is your site's directory. Anything placed in there will be accessible through the web. On /www/ is where your site's main page (must be called index, followed by a "web extension" like .html, .htm, .phtml, etc etc) must be placed. If your site's URL is http://www.mydomain.com, the webserver will automatically search for the index file on /www/. http://www.mydomain.com is actually the same as http://www.mydomain.com/index.html (depending on whether you used .html or another extension).

Note: various file extensions are valid. The most common is .html. The .phtml or .php extensions are for files utilizing the PHP4 language. The .shtml extension is for pages using SSI. There are more extensions depending on the available features on the type of hosting account you have.

How to "upload" a file? Easy. Depending on your FTP client, you can either double-click on the file (on the left side, your local copies) or drag it to the right side and drop it.

Note: At some moment, no doubt you will make subdirectories in your website. For example, a subdirectory named images to store all images. Remember that if you do this, you must duplicate the same directory structure on your site's directory on the server. In other words, you would have to create structure like /www/images. All FTP clients have a "mkdir" (make dir) command either in a button, a menu or available by right clicking on the right side of the program (where your server's files are displayed).

Tips: keep your directory structure simple. The more and more subdirectories you create to store files, the harder it'll be to do mass updates.

Well, this is the end of this short tutorial. Play around with your FTP client so that you learn all of its functions. They have far more than just uploading/downloading, deleting and creating directories.