Let’s start at the beginning. FTP stands for file transfer protocol + is a way of transferring files between servers or computers. More + more hosting companies are using SFTP which stands for secure file transfer protocol + you know how much I love security.
You may have used the file manager tool in your hosting account to upload files before — FTP/SFTP allows you to do the same thing right from your computer without having to log into your hosting account first.
Why use FTP
Whether you are using FTP or SFTP, you are protecting yourself from breaking your site + not being able to access it.
By uploading/downloading files behind-the-scenes, you have full access to everything instead of logging into your WordPress dashboard + making theme or plugin changes there. If your site white screens, you can’t use the dashboard + are SOL. But if you use FTP, you can still access every file on your server + fix issues that you are having.
The other reason I recommend using FTP is that it allows you to set up WordPress in a more secure way than the single click install option many hosting companies offer.
By taking a few minutes today to learn how to use FTP, you will protect your website + your business in the long run because you have a more secure site foundation to build your business on.
Download the software
The first thing you will need in order to use FTP/SFTP is an FTP client. The top recommendation is FileZilla — because it’s free + works on all computer types.
If you want to research other options, go ahead + do so. But wherever you land, download + open the software to get started.
Grab your credentials
Within your hosting account, you’ll find an icon labeled FTP Accounts. This area will give you the settings necessary to connect directly to your server.
Many companies now have a link that says something similar to “Configure FTP Client” next to the FTP account. This is exactly what you want.
Open up FileZilla, or whatever software you installed, + go to File > Site Manager to add a “New Site.” You can name your new site whatever you’d like (the URL is a good option) + then you’ll start to fill in the details.
Host: paste in what your cPanel says for the host or FTP Server
Logon type: select normal or account
User: paste in what your cPanel says for the FTP Username
Password: paste in the cPanel password if it’s shown — if not, it’s likely the password you log into your hosting account with.
Then click Connect to have FileZilla connect to your server.
Upload + download files
On the left side of the screen are your computer files + on the right side are your server files. If you want to add a file to your site from your computer, you navigate to the folder that the file lives + right click (or double click) to upload it. If you click on a file on your server, it will download that file to your computer (to the folder you have currently selected.)
What I typically do with FileZilla is have it open to my desktop or my downloads folder on the left side of the screen. That way I know where the files I want to change need to go + where any downloads will end up.
Remember the directory we set up when assigning your domain to your hosting account? You’ll want to navigate to that directory/folder on the right side of FileZilla in order to upload all of the necessary WordPress files to the right place.