FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the the way to move files and folders from your computer to your website server. While you can have and run a WordPress site without ever having to FTP any files it is a very powerful tool and a little bit of knowledge can potentially make things more efficient for you, especially if you are going to be uploading large files like audio and video files.
When you sign up for a web hosting package one of the basic pieces of info they will give you is your FTP server address, login name and password. If you already have a site and never bothered with this you can retrieve that information in your site’s host admin area. To emphasize, the three important things are FTP Server address (also called FTP host name) which in many cases is something like ftp.yourwebsite.com. Second, login name, which is many times your host account username sometimes with your site appended such as, email@example.com. Lastly your FTP password which again can be by default you host site login or your host may make you create a separate ftp password. If you are one of those who are lazy about choosing passwords, please don’t be in this instance as FTP access to your site would give a potential hacker full access to your entire site so if there is one place where you should provide a secure password please do so with your FTP password.
In order to FTP to your site you will need an FTP application on your computer in order to communicate with your server. Fortunately some of the best of these programs are free. Three popular ones that I have found useful are Filezilla, Cyber Duck and FireFTP. All of these are cross-platform and work on both MacOS and Windows.
But for this class when we do FTP we will be using FireFTP which is a Firefox add-on and therefore easy to implement right within the browser that we will be using, for this reason I’ve chosen this to be what I will use to demo FTP stuff. Should you chose to install a stand alone application my personal recommendation is Cyber Duck which is great for drag and drop file exchange.
For this class we will only minimally use FTP. I will demonstrate its use when I show how to manually backup your website. In that lesson, because of the extensive access that FTP has, I will not be letting the whole class following by logging into the back-end of our wpstudent.net subdomains, this could be potentially disastrous. I do however encourage those students who have active sites to come to class with the FTP information mentioned above so that they can follow along by logging into their own site.
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