Web Host FTP Accounts

The easiest way to upload files from your local hard disk to your web server is using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). All web hosting providers (bar a select few) will provide FTP access to your website. You can use FTP from the command line, but the easiest way is with one of the myriad FTP programs available, including:

  • CuteFTP (easy to use FTP program)
  • WS-FTP (popular FTP program)
  • Smart FTP (persistent FTP program)
  • FTP Explorer (integrates with Windows Explorer)
  • FTPEdit (allows you to modify remote files without the need to download/upload)

For information on how to use any of these FTP programs, consult their instruction manual.

Some tips on advanced FTP usage:

  • If you have a large website with many directories, the need will often arise to upload only HTML files. Use your FTP software’s filter settings to only upload and display .htm and .html files to make this process easier.
  • Some FTP programs have synchronisation which will upload and/or download only changed files. This can be handy for uploading many files, or downloading the latest copy of a website after someone else has changed it.

Some HTML editors such as Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver have options to modify your website ‘live’ – that is, to edit files that exist only on your web server; not on your local computer. This can be dangerous for a couple of reasons:

  1. You become reliant upon the backups of your web hosting company. If you work locally, you will always have a backup on your own computer.
  2. If a file becomes corrupted while uploading or downloading, you risk losing the file entirely.
  3. If you make a mistake and cannot undo the change, you cannot revert by downloading the file from your web server.

Some web hosting companies will give you multiple FTP accounts. This can be useful if you have several web developers working on the website, and you want each to have their own username and password with which to access the website. Check with a prospective web host that they support this feature if you plan to use it.

Your web hosting provider may also allow for anonymous FTP access. This lets visitors to your website upload files, and can be useful for websites where content is mostly supplied by its audience.