Guide to FTP

If you are an avid Web site designer and you are thinking about making the transition between free hosting and shared hosting, or simply to a more advanced Web host, you may find an FTP server to be much more efficient than a simple online uploader. FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol. The FTP program allows people to upload and download files from the Internet by connecting directly to a particular Web server. An FTP is most commonly used by Web masters to publish content to their Web pages directly from their computer.

One of the most commonly used FTP clients is called WS-FTP. This tutorial is geared toward that program, but many other server clients work similarly.

When you first open WS-FTP, it will bring you to a screen like the one above, asking you to give your site a name. WS-FTP creates a directory of all your connections, so you only have to type in this information once. Each site connection will be listed under the name that you give it. Type the name of your site into the white form field and click on Next.

This next prompt asks for your server address. If you own your domain name (a .com, .net, .org, etc.), chances are your server address is ““ If your site is hosted on a larger domain, you will most likely use that domain name to connect to the FTP. For example, if your site is hosted by geocities, you would use ““ Check with your host if you are unsure about all of this. Now, type your server address into the form field and hit the Next button.

The next step is to enter your site’s username and password. This information should have been given to you when you signed up for your hosting account. If you are unsure, ask your host about this. Once you know your username and password, type them into the corresponding form fields and click on the Next button.

On the next screen, you are asked for your connection type. The drop down menu’s default should be set to FTP. Unless your host has told you otherwise, this is the connection you will want to use. Select FTP from the menu, if it has not been done already, and hit the Next button.

Now, the program will bring you to the Finish screen, which is basically an overview of all the information you submitted. Check it out just to make sure you entered everything correctly. Spotting a problem now can save a lot of headaches and frustrations later. If you need to make a change, hit the Back button to do so.

If you are ready to connect to FTP, check the white box next to Connect to this site and press the Finish button.

If your information was not correct, it will bring you to the Invalid Server Address screen. It will give you the option to go back and change your connection information. You do not have to change every field, simply hit the Next button until you find the information you want to change. Then click the Finish button to attempt to connect once again.

When you successfully connect to your Web site via WS-FTP, your screen should resemble the picture above. Your computer’s file system is on the left hand side, while the right hand side shows all the folders and files already uploaded to your Web page. The window at the bottom will log your previous transfers.

To Upload

1.) Use the drop down box underneath the My Computer tab to choose the correct folder from your computer.
2.) Select the file or folder you wish to upload from the left window by clicking it once. Any selected item will be highlighted in blue.
3.) Click the arrow between the two folders that is pointing to the right. This will initiate the transfer.

To download, follow these same steps, but start with the files in the right window, and use the arrow pointing to the left.

It is also important to monitor the progress of your upload or download. In the Information Window at the very bottom of the program, you can do just that. The Source column shows the direct path on your computer/Web site to the file you are uploading/downloading. The Status column shows what percentage of the download is complete. This is probably the most important thing to monitor. The transfer is not complete until the word Finish appears in this spot.

You can pause or cancel a transfer at any time by right clicking it and choosing Pause or Delete from the drop down box.

One extra tip: To delete a file, simply click the item in either the right or left window and hit delete on your keyboard. Keep in mind that once you delete something from your Web page, it cannot be recovered.

If you have multiple Web sites, the connection wizard comes in very handy, because it allows you to move between the different Web sites quickly, without disconnecting each other. If you click the arrow next to the Connection icon at the very top of the program, you will see a drop down menu showing all the connections you have created. By clicking one, you will automatically be connected to that server.

If you ever need to rename any of your connections, edit the information, change the password, etc. You can use the Site Manager. To get to this screen, click the actual Connect icon (not just the arrow). Click the connection of your choice to highlight it and then choose one of the buttons on the right side. You can use the Connect button to reconnect to the particular site. You can also use the Edit button to change any of the connection information, the Rename button to change the name you’ve given or the Delete button to erase the particular connection all together.

Hopefully this tutorial will help you get acquainted with using an FTP. Soon, you will find it quite simple and you will breeze right through all the actions just like a pro!

If you’re interested in working with the WS-FTP software, here’s how you can get a copy on your computer. offers a 30 day trial of the software. After that runs out, you can purchase it for $39.95. Simply search for WS-FTP Pro by using their site search engine. Once you find it, click the icon that says Download next to the software name. After the trial period, the software will freeze and they will direct you to a payment page to purchase the software if you wish to.

~ Kimberly Lawson