Getting Started with FTP


How to find and configure an FTP program

So, you need to use ftp to transfer your files? Sounds like trouble, doesn't it? Well, no need to worry, it's not as bad as it sounds. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is just another way to transfer files over phone lines. (Remember http stands for hyper text transfer protocol, which is used in your web browser).

To begin using FTP, you will want to get an ftp program that makes it easy to transfer and rename your files. My suggestion is WS_FTP from Ipswitch. You can download a free trial version at the Ipswitch Home Page. This is the program you will see in the images in these ftp tutorials.

If you prefer to find one on your own, you can go to ZDnet's Shareware Library and search for "FTP Client" or "FTP program". Of course, your program may have a different appearance than the images here, but you should be able to get the general idea from these tutorials.

Now install the program on your computer using the instructions provided at the site, in a readme file, etc. Once you have the program installed, start it up. If you are using WS_FTP, you will get a screen like the one below on startup. If you don't get this screen, click the "Connect" button in the bottom left corner of the program window.

You should now see this window:

The first thing you will want to do is set up the program so it can connect to your web host. So, click on the "New" button to begin. You will then be able to fill in the information needed into the the proper fields. Here is the list of fields, and what you need to place in each one:

Profile Name:     Type in a name you can remember later. Use your name and the name of the web server you want to connect to. In this case, you would be connecting to our ISP, which is
Host Name/Address:     This is a very important field. Normally your web host will tell you the address you need to use to connect to our server using ftp. Most often the address is
Host Type:     This can almost always be left on Auto Detect. This will let the program figure it out on the fly, and configure itself accordingly.
User ID:     This is going to be your user name you gave us at the time of your sign up..
Password:     This is the password you were given from the web host to log into their services. You should have received this with your user name. The box will only show the star symbols and not your password itself when you type it in.
Account:     This is almost always left blank. If you do need it, you will need to contact your host for the information.
Comment:     You can add your own comments and decriptions here if you wish. It is not a required field.
Anonymous     You will only need to check this box if you are connecting to a host that allows anonymous ftp. In most cases, you will leave this box unchecked. It is usually used if you connect to a site that allows you access to download files only.
Save Pwd     Check this box if you want the program to save your password, so you do not need to retype it each time you connect. If you feel safer, uncheck the box so anyone using the program would have to type the correct password to connect to the server.
Finally, hit the "OK" button at the bottom. If everything is correct, you are online, and the server is not too busy, the program will connect to the web host.

If you are not online, hit "OK", go connect to the internet, and return to the program. Hit the "Connect" button in the bottom left corner and you should see your profile window again. If not, use the drop down button to find the Profile Name you entered earlier. When you have your profile window back, hit "OK". Now you should be connected to your server!

Well, that does it for the configuration tutorial. The next section will help you with sending your files to your web host so they can be seen on the web.

How to upload files to a web server using FTP

OK, you were able to set up the FTP program and connect to your web server. Now you need to know how to send the files to the server so they can be seen on the web. Well, here we go!

Once you are connected, you should see a screen similar to the one below, which is a screen capture of WS_FTP:

Now, look in the right frame at the listing of files. This is where you will see files for the "Remote Host", which will be your web server. You will see directories first, which have the little yellow folders to the left of the directory name. After that, you will see a list of files that are in the directory you are in.

You will now be in the directory that holds your files that people can see on the web.

You may already have an "index.html" file here, or you may have nothing at all. Either way, you can start sending your files to yur server.

To begin, go over to the left frame. This is a listing of the files on your computer. Now, you must navigate to the directory where you have the files you want to send. If you need to go up one directory, use the green arrow at the top of the file list. If you need to go to another drive (such as a disk drive), scroll to the bottom of the file names. You will then see a:\, d:\, etc. Select the drive you need to go to and double click it. You will now get a new list of directories and files. Just keep changing directories until you get to the right place, which will list the files you want to send. You will see something like the image below:

Now just select the file you wish to send, and click on the right arrow in the middle of the screen. (see photo above). This will send your file to the web server, and you will be able to go view it in your web browser!

Well, that does it for this section. In the next section, will give you more details on how to use the various options to rename, delete, change directories quickly, and more.


Rename, delete, and more

Now you know how to upload a file, but would like to be able to do a few other things as well. First, let's take one more look at the program in the image below. Some areas have been highlighted so they could be explained afterward:

Local Directory   This is the directory you are in on your own computer. You can look at this to see where you need to be to find the files you need to send.
Remote Directory   This is the directory you are in on your web server's computer.
Local Options   These buttons allow you to do things with files on your computer.
Remote Options   These buttons allow you to do things with files in your web directory. Explainations for the local and remote buttons come later in this page.
Local File List   A list of the files in that directory on your computer.
Remote File List   Lists the files in your web directory on your web host.
Transfer Method   Tells the remote host the method in which you want to send files. This is explained a little more later in this page.
Main Toolbar   These buttons allow you to connect, close a connection, exit the program, etc.

The Local and Remote Option Buttons

These buttons allow you to do things to your files. The buttons in the left frame deal with files on your computer. The buttons in the right frame deal with the files on your web host.

Here is what they do:

ChgDir Click this if you know the directory you want to jump to. It will allow you to type in the directory instead of clicking until you get there.
MkDir Allows you to create a directory. All you have to do is type in the name you wish the directory to have. Some web hosts may not allow you to create a directory on their server, so it may only work on your computer.
View This will allow you to view the selected file, provided you have a program on your computer that can view the file.
Exec This will execute the selected file if it is executable.
Rename This allows you to rename the selected file. This is really useful when your computer saves something in uppercase, but you need it in lowercase. Just click the button and you will be prompted for a new name. Just type it in and hit OK.
Delete This allows you to delete the selected file. Better be careful here!
Refresh This will refresh the directory listing, in case you have created a new file or have saved changes on an existing file since you opened the program.
DirInfo Will give you some information on the directory you are in.


Transfer Method

Check the box for the method you wish to use to transfer your files to the server. Use the "binary" method for my html files, images, and sound files. Change it to the "ASCII" method to upload a cgi program file, which needs to be sent as ASCII text in order to execute properly. Basically, if one does not work, try using the other...or try auto.