What Is FTP?
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and it is a standardized network protocol or a language for transferring files between a client and a server over the Internet (or other TCP/IP networks). This protocol was designed especially for file sharing throughout the Internet between different types of computers. FTP is a reliable connection-oriented protocol, which means it guarantees file delivery (TCP ensures that). FTP uses port 21.
What Are Some Other Types Of File Transfer Protocols?
SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. SFTP is very similar to the FTP but it adds a layer of security by transferring data in a more protected way. Therefore, no data is sent in clear text but encrypted by using a secure shell. SFTP uses port 22.
TFTP stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol. It is a simplified connectionless protocol mainly used for file transfer within a LAN – local area network. TFTP is not like FTP and SFTP that both are connection-oriented protocols that use TCP and guarantee file delivery over various TCP/IP networks. TFTP uses UDP protocol instead of TCP. TFTP cannot compete with TCP in security and reliability.
Note: If you are not a network administrator, you probably will never use TFTP as it’s used for transferring configuration files and firmware updates to routers and firewalls.
As we mentioned, there are a few sorts of file transfer protocols but in this article, we’ll discuss the most widely used FTP protocol.
It is very popular with web developers, website owners, SEO professionals, and other IT specialists because it makes it easy to upload files to the servers of the hosting provider. It’s GUI also allow you to see the content of your online repositary the same way as if you were using File Explorer on your desktop. Another advantage of the FTP is its capability to proficiently transfer multiple (bulk) files.
As a result, FTP today is the de facto method for transferring large volumes of data. And it is widely used.
The most popular ways to transfer files between computers using FTP are by using Internet browsers (such as Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer) or by using FTP clients. We’ll talk more about FTP clients below.
So, let’s say you uploaded some files to the server via FTP. Now, you want to share those files with some Internet users (or “clients” in terms of networking). How can they access and download those files? They can simply use the FTP address of the files, which looks like ftp.site-url.com (similar to regular web addresses for websites: http://www.site-url.com). To download a file, you can simply click on its icon and downloading will begin. Pretty easy, don’t you think?
In some cases, FTP servers will require an account with credentials (username & password). And in other cases, you can log in anonymously.
Another simple way to connect to the server is by using a so-called FTP Client. It gives a better overall user experience than using a web browser because FTP client is based on a graphical user interface or GUI.
What is an FTP Client?
An FTP Client is a special software designed to transfer files between two computers, or, to be more accurate, between your computer and a remote server. As we’ve discussed, many browsers support FTP file downloads. However, we’ll need a dedicated FTP Client to upload files and for some other more advanced tasks. Your typical FTP Client program can upload, download, rename, move, copy, or delete any file on a server. Filezilla is a very popular feature-rich FTP Client. Its additional benefit is being a multiplatform program, as it can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
How To Find Your FTP Details?
To be able to connect to the remote server, you need to know your FTP details. These tips will guide you in a process:
Log in to your hosting account (your hosting provider will have more information should you have any questions).
Find your FTP details in your control panel.
- Log in to your control panel
- Select Web Hosting from the Hosting & Domains menu
- Choose the package you want to view the FTP details for.
- To create FTP user account, click the link next to FTP in the File Management section.
- Select the Master tab to get your main FTP details. The Custom tab allows you to manage the additional users you created. You can review the additional FTP users and change their passwords via the Custom tab (a list of your additional accounts will be displayed). At the bottom of the list, you will see the hostname to use for all your additional FTP accounts.
- The FTP details of your primary FTP account will be shown. You will need to change your password in case you forgot it.
Note: By default, the FTP password is usually the same as your Master password you created when you set up the hosting account.
How To Create A Good Secure Password
To choose a secure password, follow these tips:
You are not allowed to use any of your last 10 passwords. So, create something not-so-obvious and new.
Your password should be at least 8 characters long (the longer, the better).
Remember to use at least one lowercase and one uppercase letter, as well as at least one number. Feel free to aslo use ampersand (&), dollar sign ($), exclamation mark (!), or the “@” sign in your password. They will make your password much harder to break. Other symbols may not be permitted in passwords.
How to Connect to FTP With FileZilla on Windows PC
FileZilla is open-source software distributed free of charge. It is probably the best free FTP solution among many available options. It comes in both client and server versions, but Filezilla for client should be enough for most users. This FTP client will work on most operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
To connect to FTP using Filezilla FTP client, follow these steps:
- Download FileZilla to your local computer. It is available for download at
- Install the Filezilla client program: just double-click on the file that was downloaded and follow the installation instructions.
- Start FileZilla when the program is successfully installed.
- Specify your FTP login details.
When Firezilla opens up, you will see the fields that are required for the FTP connection. Fill those fields as follows:
FTP server name: enter your domain name here or the name of the hosting server where your account resides (e.g. siteground300.com)
FTP username: your cPanel username
FTP password: your cPanel password
Port: The default FTP port is 21. (You can leave this field empty, the program will use the default port “21” anyway).
- Now click on the light-blue “Quickconnect” button.
Note: when you load Filezilla in the future, you will be able to go to the drop-down menu of “Server” and click on “Reconnect”.
If you connected successfully, you will see a note at the top in the status area indicating that you are connected. The folders and files on your computer will appear under the “Local Site” pane on the left side of your screen. Your Web Hosting account folders and files will appear in the “Remote Site” pane on the right side.
- You can now transfer files and folders between your local computer and your hosting account by simply dragging them from one side to another. Filezilla program will ask you to confirm whether you want to copy and replace files (or keep both versions) and you would need to cautiously confirm that.
Uploading your website with FileZilla:
Once you have your FTP details you need to connect to your web server, you can start uploading your website. To upload your site files and folders to your hosting, follow these steps:
- Open FileZilla, click the File menu, then click Site Manager.
- The Site Manager screen will display any existing connections you have set up. Click the New Site button and type a name to help you identify your FTP connection.
- Under the General tab enter the following settings:
Host: Enter ftp.<your domain name>. For example, if the website you want to upload is site-url.com enter ftp.site-url.com.
Port: Enter “21”.
Protocol: From the dropdown menu, select “FTP – File Transfer Protocol”.
Encryption: From the dropdown menu, select “Only use Plain FTP”.
- In the next section, enter the following login details:
Logon Type: Select Normal.
User: Enter your FTP account username. If you are using your master FTP account, this will be your domain name.
Password: Enter your FTP account password.
- Select the Advanced tab.
- Click the Browse button to find your website folder, select it and then click the OK button. This step is optional.
Whenever FileZilla connects to your FTP space, it will show this folder’s contents in the Local Site section of the screen.
- Enter “/htdocs/” in the Default remote directory text box. This will ensure that FileZilla connects to the folder that contains your live website.
- Click on the Transfer Settings tab and select “Passive”.
- Click on “Connect” button and you will be able to upload files by dragging them from the Local Site pane on the left side, to the Remote Site pane on the right.
These are the basic tips on how to use the Filezilla FTP client. There is so much more, especially when it comes to using Filezilla’s server version of this great program! We may publish another more advanced tutorial on FTP usage in the near future.
See you and good luck browsing the Global Web!