FileZilla is a free and very useful FTP utility. However, its design is not very intuitive. Once it is installed, many users just sit there and scratch their heads trying to figure out what to do next. In this tutorial, we will lead you through some of the basic functions to help get you started. Believe me, you will like it once you learn how to use it.
At this point, it is assumed that you have already downloaded and installed FileZilla on your PC. If you have not, check out our FileZilla installation tutorial.
If you are setting up your first web site or are a complete newbie when it comes to using an FTP utility, you do need to make sure that you have the following information. Your hosting company should have supplied you with FTP connection information when you set up the hosting service.
Here is what you need:
- Address This is a hostname (also called Host) or IP address. A hostname is simply the domain name for your site (example: mydomainname.com). Sometimes an FTP Address may look like ftp.mydomainname.com. If your site uses a dedicated IP address, this can be used, but it will only work if you have a dedicated IP address assigned to the site. Most hosting configurations use an IP address shared with other web sites and in this situation an IP address cannot be used.
- User The username assigned to your FTP connection. This is likely different than the username assigned to you to access your site’s control panel, but in some cases the hosting company may use the same username and password.
- Password The password assigned to your FTP connection. Once again, this is very likely different than the password assigned to you to access your site’s control panel.
- Port A port can be envisioned as a special pathway into your server. Different types of server access use different ports. The standard port for FTP access is port 21. Use this port unless your hosting company indicates that you should use another.
You should have received all of this information from your hosting company when you set up your hosting account. If you do not have it, you must obtain it before you can connect to your server using FileZilla or any other FTP utility.
First, let’s get familiar with FileZilla’s toolbar and the functions you will find there. After you have installed FileZilla, start it up. You should see the following.
The toolbar is the section near the top. Let’s cover the toolbar icon buttons we find there.
- Quickconnect Use the Quickconnect function if you need to do a one-time connection. Just fill in the Address, User, Password and Port information as requested and click the Quickconnect button. You should see the connection log information scroll through the screen just below the Quickconnect section. If the connection is made, you will see a lot of green text messages in the main window. From this point, use the Local Site window to select the local folder on your PC where you have the web site files stored. Use the Remote Site window to select the folder or directory on your server. You must transfer the home page and other root directory (the default main directory) files into the root directory for your site. The root directory for most web sites is usually named public_html or html. If you see one of these directories listed in the Remote Site window, select it. If you do not see any directory or folder names, then you are probably already in the root directory. To disconnect from the server, just click the Quickconnect button again.
- Site Manager This section allows you to set up a list of FTP server connections that can be saved. See the section below entitled Using the Site Manager to Set Up an FTP Connection.
- Show or Hide Local Treeview This switches the Local Site directory and file windows back and forth. It is useful for viewing a list of files.
- Show or Hide Remote Treeview The same as the button listed above. This switches the Remote Site directory and file windows back and forth. It is useful for viewing a list of files or finding a specific directory from a long list.
- Show of Hide Queue The Queue window is the large window at the bottom that displays the list of files waiting for transfer.
- Show or Hide the Message Log The Message Log is the large window just below the Quickconnect section that displays FTP messages. It is a good idea to leave this open for troubleshooting purposes. it is not uncommon for FTP transfers to fail.
- Refresh All Views This simply refreshes all the data displayed in the windows.
- Reconnect to Server Most servers automatically disconnect FTP connections after a preset period of inactivity. Clicking on this button restores the connection.
- Display Help Table of Contents if all else fails and you cannot figure out how to accomplish something, read the instructions in the Help section.
Using the Site Manager to Set Up an FTP Connection.
- Click on the Site Manager button. The screen shown above should display.
- To set up a new FTP connection, click on the New Site button.
- Enter the Host (same as the Address).
- The Port should show the default port 21. If your host uses a different Port, change it here.
- Under the Logontype, select the Normal radio button in the middle. You can now enter the User (same as the Username) and Password. You do not have to enter anything in the box labeled Account unless your hosting service requires it.
- Enter the Password. If you are using a shared computer or if you wish to keep other users (kids, family, friends or a computer thief) from accessing your site, check the box marked Don’t Save password.
- Click the Rename button and name your FTP connection something useful, such as the domain name of the site.
- Click the Save and Exit button
Click on the Site Manager button once again, select your FTP connection and click on the Connect button to test the connection. If the connection fails, recheck the Host, Port, Username and Password data that you used. If these do not work, contact your hosting company’s tech support or your company’s IT Support team. Sometimes the use of server or network firewalls requires special configurations.
How to Transfer Files Using FileZilla
Transferring files using FileZilla couldn’t be easier, but once again, it is not apparent due to the nature of the simple design.
Once the FTP connection is made, navigate to the correct folders and files in both the Local Site window and the Remote Site window. To transfer a file, either drag and drop it from the left window (Local Site) to the right window (Remote Site), or simply double-click on a file in the Local Site window. Either method adds the file to the queue and it will be transferred.
The next tutorial in this series (currently being developed) will cover FileZilla Advanced Tips. Stop in again and look for these tips to take you to the next level with FileZilla.
FileZilla is frequently referred to a FireZilla (as in Fire). I am not sure how this alternate name originated, but the correct name is indeed FileZilla. However, you can call it anything you wish and it will still be a useful FTP utility.