It is very common to see FTP accounts in web hosting packages or website configuration, but for many users especially those beginners, they have no idea about what FTP really is. In the post below, we are to focus on the term of FTP and explain what FTP is and how to use it to upload files to your WordPress websites.
What Is FTP? Why You Need It?
FTP is the abbreviation of “File Transfer Protocol”, which is for transferring files through Internet from one device to others. For instance, as you install WordPress to your site, FTP is probably used to upload the files of WordPress from your PC to your web servers. Well, for this purpose, FTP client is must feature. It is actually software running on your computer as well as allowing transferring from or to your servers. WS_FTP and Filezilla are both simple FTP clients.
Many good WordPress hosting companies include FTP access in packages for you, enabling you to upload and download any files from your web servers directly in their control panel. For you who want to install WordPress, you need the FTP clients to upload WordPress files to your web server.
In addition, if you are planning to modify a functions.php file of using theme or utilize any plugin, FTP is a good tool to help you in these cases. It is very possible that after you update or install a new plugin on site or change the functions.php file, your site will encounter the error of WSOD (we have talked in a previous article) and make you be locked outside of your website because of incompatibility between plugins or poorly written codes.
When there is the problem, FTP can help you connect to your web server via FTP client as well as delete the wrong files causing the errors. So, you should understand how important the FTP for you to run a website based on WordPress or others.
Use FTP to Upload WordPress Files
To use FTP, you need firstly download a FTP client as well as install it on your PC. As for the FTP client, it is an application helping you connect to your site and transfer your files via FTP protocol. At present, there are many FTP clients available outside and in below we listed the most popular ones (they are all free FTP clients as well):
- The first one, FileZilla is Windows, Linux, and Mac friendly;
- WinSCP is Windows friendly only;
- Cyberduck is Mac friendly.
FileZilla is the most versatile one, so in this article we will choose to use FileZilla as our instance. Of course, you can choose any other FTP client as you like, because their conceptions are all the same no matter which software you choose.
Connect To Your WordPress Site via FTP
As you turn on your FTP app, it should require you to connect or your WordPress website by entering your own FTP login information.
These login credentials should be already sent to you via email when you signed up for your web hosting account. If you can’t find them in your email box, then you can also go to your cPanel dashboard where your FTP login information is stored.
If you can’t find the login information, you need to directly connect your provider to ask it.
With right login credentials, you should open your FTP client FileZilla. In it, you need to find “Site Manager” under “File” block.
Once you clicked on “Site Manager”, you will be shown a popup window in which you need to type into your WordPress website information. Then, press the “New Site” button below left, and offer your site a title in your FTP client.
After that, you can see there are several empty blanks in the right column, where you need to provide your host’s information that usually is the domain name.
There is one thing you need to pay attention to: you should choose SFTP in protocol section if your host has the support for SFTP.
As for “Logon Type”, you should choose “Normal” type and then enter FTP login credentials in “User” and “Password” fields.
After finishing these, you just need to press “Connect” button to move on. Now all these information and selections you just entered and made are all save by FileZilla so that you can easily and quickly login for next time and more. Meanwhile, the connection you just created is a new FTP connection to your site.
Supposed that you just connected to your site from the computer at first time, and then the FileZilla FTP client can offer a certificate popup to you. In the popup window, there is an answer beneath the question “Trust this certificate and carry on connecting?”, and you need to check the box in front of the answer to allow future sessions. After that, the popup window will disappear. Now, press “OK” to step forward.
After completing these settings, your FTP client FileZilla will make efforts to try to log into your WordPress website with the user and password you just entered. Once done, the connection is successful and you can get a list of folders and files on your site below “Remote site” column.
The folders and files on your site will be listed in “Remote site” column, and the files and folders on your PC will be displayed in “Local site”. So, if you plan to upload a file on your PC to your WordPress site, you can locate the target file on your PC by browsing “Local site”. After finding it, you just need to select the file, right click on it and final choose “Upload” in menu.
Now, FileZilla will perform the process of file upload from your PC to your site.
But there is a question. WordPress requires certain folders and files in certain location, so that it can work properly. It is to say you can’t upload your files from any places you even don’t know, meaning you have to learn which location to upload a folder or file in your site.
Here is an example of uploading a new plugin to your WordPress site. Firstly, you need to download it to your PC. And then, unzip the file of the plugin. In zip file, you can find the folder of the plugin. Because WordPress finds plugins the folder of /wp-content/plugins/, you need go to find the folder in the column of “Remote site” and upload above plugin folder from your PC to your WordPress site.
After that, you can go to WordPress Dashboard and visit “Plugins” page where you can activate the plugin just uploaded.
If you want to upload premium themes to your WordPress website, the process is very similar: download the theme on your PC >> unzip thee folder >> upload the theme folder to your WordPress site’s /wp-content/themes/ folder.
Apart from uploading files, FTP can be used to download files from your WordPress site and edit them as well.
Other Usages of FTP in Your WordPress Website
For this usage, you just need to right click the target folder or files in “Remote site” column, and then select the “Download” in menu.
Besides, when you need to back up your WordPress files, FTP is also a good tool, just choose all WordPress folders and files, right click and select “Download” to download these files and folders to your PC. It’s very simple!
However, FTP cannot back up your WordPress database, but only works for WordPress files’ backups. Therefore, if you plan to back up website content, you have to manual back up your database.
In this article, we have introduced many sides of FTP, and we hope it is useful that customers can understand what FTP is in WordPress and how to use it in WordPress.