What Does FTP Stand for?
FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is used for transferring files between computers or between a computer and a web server. While creating websites, web pages are usually created using some form of HTML editor. These web pages are then transferred to the server when your website is hosted. The transfer of the files between your computer and the server is done using software called an FTP client.
Finding an FTP Client
If your website is being designed and built by a web development company, they will either take care of uploading your website to the server or have suggestions about the software to use. If you are building your website yourself, there are many free and paid FTP client software that can be downloaded from the web. A good place to start is to search for “FTP Client”.
Once you download the software of your choice, you will need to install it on your computer. When you run it for the first time, you will need to enter the FTP account details provided by your web hosting service provided. These details include your site name, FTP host name, user ID and password. If you are not sure about this, you can either email or call your hosting provided for the FTP details. Most service providers will even guide you with the set up if you tell them the software you are using.
After you enter all the details, there would be an option to connect to the server. If the details you entered are correct, the software establish a connection with the server and will list the files and folders from your server.
Transferring Files to and from the Server
There is no set rule for the way files should be transferred to the server. It is advisable to set up a system that works best for you and follow it every time, to make sure you have not missed some files out. One best practice is to upload images, flash, PDF and any other files linked from your web pages. Once these are uploaded to the correct folder, the HTML files or web pages should be uploaded. This is because, if someone were to visit your website while the files were being uploaded, then missing images and flash files can display an ugly page to the visitor.
Most FTP clients will display the files from your computer in one half of the screen and files from your server in the other half. Most also support drag-and-drop, so you can drag files from your computer to the corresponding folder on the server or vice versa.
You can also delete files, move them around, rename them, etc., from the server, just the way you would do it on your computer or flash drive.
A Word of Caution
Uploading the files in the wrong location, deleting the wrong files, renaming them and failing to link to the renamed file can all causes your website to have broken links and/or display information incorrectly. If you are not familiar with web development and FTP, it is always a good idea to avoid the hassle of making sure everything is done just right and retain the services of a professional web development company.