What is FTP and How Do I Use It?

What is FTP and How Do I Use It?

File Transfer Protocol or FTP is the method used to upload website files to a web server.


Transferring files to a web server is typically done using a FTP Client. This is a program which is designed specifically for this purpose. Many FTP clients are stand-alone apps. Others are sometimes built in to web design software as this can simplify the process of finding and uploading your files.

Typically, your FTP client will prompt you for the following information before you can upload your website:

  • FTP Server / Host Name: ftp.yourdomain (e.g.: ftp.example.com)
  • User Name: exampleusername
  • Password: examplepassword
  • Your FTP client may also ask your for the server port number. If it does, then you must use port 21.

Once you have entered the abovementioned information and a connection to the server is established, your FTP client will display all of the folders on the web server which fall under your account. You can then proceed to copy your website to the server. This is can usually be done by dragging and dropping the files and / or folders from the pane which displays your local files to the pane which contains the server content (if your FTP client does not support dragging and dropping, then you will need to consult the documentation which accompanied the program for the copying procedure).


There are a stack of folders on the server. Where does my website go?

When you connect to the server, you will see a number of different folders. Your website should be copied into the folder called /public_html/. Your home page should also be copied into this folder and not into a sub folder, otherwise your website will not be visible. Initially, you will see a number of files and folders within the public_html folder. These files and folders are what displays the coming soon page which added to your domain when your hosting package was activated. Before you upload your files, you will need to remove these files and folders.

Please note: If you have a Windows-based hosting package then your files should be uploaded into the folder /exampleuser/example.com/wwwroot/ (where example.com is your domain name).

I've copied the files exactly as instructed, but I still can't see my website.

The first thing to check is the name of your home page. This is important because only certain names will be recognised by the server simply because a server cannot anticipate the myriad names which are used for home pages.


Your home page should be named one of the following:
  • index.htm
  • index.html
  • index.php
  • index.asp
As with all files used in a website, these file names are case-sensitive. For example: Using a file name like INDEX.html would prevent visitors from seeing your website.

Another reason why you may not be able to see your new website or any changes to an existing website (if you are simply updating it) is that your internet browser may be displaying a cached copy of the old site. This effectively means that your browser has not downloaded the latest copy of your website from the web server and is showing a copy that it has stored or cached instead.

You can normally force your browser to refresh the page that you are viewing by doing the following:
  • If your computer uses Windows, simultaneously press the CTRL and F5 keys on your keyboard.
  • For Mac OS (Apple) press both the Apple and F5 keys.

If a forced refresh does not help, then you will need to clear your browser cache and restart the program. Information on clearing your browser cache can be found here.

FTP Accounts
FTP Accounts:

Your cPanel user name and password also serve as your FTP credentials. When logging in to the server you will see a variety of folders, including those which contain your website and e-mail messages. If someone other than yourself will be uploading your website and you want to limit access to just the public_html folder (i.e. the folder which only contains your website) then you can create a secondary FTP account.

To create a second FTP account, you will need to do the following:

1. Log in to the Client Area.

2. Click on Services followed by My Services.

3. Locate the hosting that you wish to add the new FTP account to and select View Details.

4. Once the product summary page has loaded, scroll down to the Manage Account heading and select FTP Accounts.

5. On the FTP Accounts Management page, you will be prompted for the following information to create a new account:
  • Login: This is the user name for the account (e.g.: exampleuser@example.com)
  • Password: Enter a password for the new account. The password must be at least five characters in length. **
  • Password (Again): Confirm the password that you have chosen.
  • Directory: /home/example/: This is where you can specify which folder the account will be able to access.
  • Quota: This is the storage limit that will be placed on files uploaded using the new FTP account. This can be a set amount or unlimited (unlimited means that the site can expand until your overall hosting package limit is reached).
6. Once you have entered the information above, click on Create.

** A strong password is of the utmost importance. For help on choosing a good password, please have a read through Guidelines for Passwords.

Please make a note of your password and keep it in a safe place.

When the account has been added, you can forward the details to the person who will be uploading your website.
  • website, website design, FTP
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