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Tutorial: FTP – it’s easy as 1-2-3

By Char

One of the most daunting tasks for beginning bloggers and web site owners is figuring out how to get files from their personal computers on to the web. Most blogging platforms and content management systems offer some level of upload capability, but there are times when you need to do something a little more advanced (like uploading a new theme or plugin), and that usually means using FTP.

What is FTP?

Well, it stands for File Transfer Protocol, but all you need to know is that it is a way to connect your PC to your web host so you can transfer files from one place to the other.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3…

1. Get an FTP program

Most of the FTP programs work basically the same so once you get the hang of one of them you should be able to handle any of them. If you use Firefox, you can download FireFTP for free. It is an extremely easy FTP program to use.

Other good FTP programs include:

2. Set up your connection

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to use FireFTP instructions and screen captures. Your FTP program may not have exactly the same screens, but they all ask for the same information.

Launch FireFTP and then choose Manage Accounts. Select New. You will now see a screen that looks like this:

FTP setup screen

    1. Give your site a name that makes sense (most likely your site’s name).
    2. Fill in your host address - this is usually your IP address, but depending on your web host, it may be your full domain name or it could be When you set up your hosting account, this information should have been provided to you.
    3. Fill in your user name and password and then choose OK. (Don’t worry about those other two tabs right now)
    4. Next click the Connect button to establish a connection between your computer and the web server.

      3. Drag and drop

      One side of the screen will show the files on your computer and the other side will show the files on the server.

      The basics of an FTP screen

      1. Navigate to the folder/file you want to upload FROM on your computer. Look at the other side of the screen and navigate to the folder you want to upload TO on the server. (See step one in the graphic)
      2. On the “local” side (also known as your computer), highlight the file(s) you wish to upload.
      3. The buttons in the center represent the direction of the file transfer -  you want to click on the  arrow pointing towards your server  (upload).
      4. The file will arrive on your server and be listed in the folder you selected.

      Most programs, like FireFTP, allow you to do this process via Drag and Drop, too. In other words, you can select the file on your local computer and drag it to the folder on the server that you want it to go to.

      As for downloading – the whole process also works in reverse. You can select a file on your server and transfer it to your local computer side by following the same instructions as above, just start on the server side of the screen.

      Obviously, these are just the very basics of FTP, but with a little practice, even the novice can become proficient at moving files from one place to another.

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      Really good tutorial, one of my favorite is filezilla, if i want to access ftp fast though i would use konquer or IE.


      I remember ftp being so daunting the first time. The biggest thing for me was working out the ftp address, the username and password and setting it up on my host. It killed me and still does sometimes. After that it gets easier though.


      Nice guide!
      My favorite FTP client application is CuteFTP. Beside the fastest connection to the server, this application also very user friendly.


      God I’m so glad you’ve written something like that. When I first needed to install wordpress plugins there was nothing like this. Well done!



      You know I’m a Dreamweaver junkie, but I’m totally checking out FireFTP now just to see! Briefly looked into Filezilla once, but I don’t remember much about it. I’ve followed CoffeeCup sporadically for years though. I think they’ve come a long way with their software over the past few in particular. Have you ever tried any of their stuff?


      What a great tutorial Char! I personally use WS FTP and LOVE it.


      Nice tutorials – as a software engineer I get phone calls from friends and family with problems. This looks like a great site to send them too!

      LA Head Shot Photography
      September 5th, 2007 at 5:06 pm

      thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’m not only new to blogging, (this is the third day since I descovered blogs) but am new to computers! anything helps! and this is a wonderful tutorial I want to blog too!!! thanks again! sincerely, todd


      Thank you for providing this useful information. If you don’t mind, I am going to list your post as one of resourceful sites on my blog. You can check it out from this post:


      I am familiar with Ipswich_ftp but I can’t setup FileZilla. Filezilla startup page ask for password. What password? it didn’t asking anything like that when I set it up and now it’s aking for password if I want to do something. I goback to the old FTP.


      I didn’t even know Firefox has an FTP client. Another great share. Thanks!


      I use SmartFTP and never had problems with it. This is a great tutorial for those who may not know what an FTP is for.

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