What Is FTP?[FTP in WordPress]

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Intro: What is FTP and What does it stand for? FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a Protocol for uploading and downloading files from a server or transferring files between a server and a computer.

Key Takeaways

  • FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a Protocol for uploading and downloading files from a server.
  • Knowing how to access your site using FTP is a vital skill for any WordPress site owner to have.
  • SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol that runs over the SSH protocol. It secures the function and authentication of the SSH.
  • The staging site is a mirror of your website where you can make any improvements you need without impacting your live site.
  • CPanel File Manager is a web interface where all information on your site, including photos, documents, 404 pages, is organized into folders.
  • When connecting to your WordPress account using FTP, it is important to make sure that you have a recent backup in place so that you can recover your website if something goes wrong.

Part of being an experienced WordPress user is learning how the site functions behind the scenes. This is where FTP comes in handy, as it helps you to deal directly with the files that compose your website. Knowing how to access your site using FTP is a vital skill for any WordPress site owner to have.

This post addresses the question of what FTP is, introduces FileZilla, and then shows you how to use it to access files on your WordPress account. There are four key steps, to sum up:

  1. Back up the site
  2. Install FileZilla
  3. Connect to your host using FTP
  4. Manage your WordPress files
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What Is FTP?

FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” and is a means of uploading and downloading files from a server. In other words, it’s about sending data between a server and a computer.

FTP Client is a type of software that allows you to connect to a remote server to upload files. You can upload files to your host from your computer or download files from your remote WordPress dashboard to your computer. You can also directly open them in your text editor for fast editing.

You’re primarily going to do three things with FTP:

  • Upload files to your website
  • Download files from your website
  • Delete files from your website

 

Difference Between FTP and SFTP

SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol that runs over the SSH protocol. It secures the function and authentication of the SSH.

This extra layer of protection ensures that the connection is authenticated with certificates so that the client and the server can form a stable and reliable connection. This offers a reasonable degree of security as long as the appropriate certificates are in order.

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It is always recommended that you have a certificate on your site to inform visitors of its validity and ensure a connection, but if this is not practical, for example, if you are uploading files to a new site that you are currently working on, SFTP could be the best choice.

If you connect to a server that uses SFTP after you’ve been a faithful FTP user for several years, you may be slightly surprised at the speed drop compared to what you’re used to.

This is because there is a lot of extra packet and encryption taking place during an SFTP transfer that is not present while using FTP. There are a few things worth sacrificing for speed, but safety is probably not one of them.

 

Why Do You Need to Use FTP?

You should never have to use FTP in normal circumstances. But there are quite a few situations where FTP is useful.

In the following situations, you can use FTP:

  • Due to an error or a hack, you are locked out of your wp-admin dashboard. You might try accessing your files via FTP to repair them and retrieve access to them.
  • Add plugins and themes directly when they cannot be uploaded to the dashboard.
  • Manually disable plugins and themes if they have created issues on your site and you cannot disable them from the dashboard.
  • Download media files in bulk instead of one at a time.
  • Make changes to WordPress core files, such as the .htaccess or wp-config file.
  • Identification and correction of common errors, such as internal server errors, compatibility problems, etc.
  • Find out your username and password for the database.
  • Take a manual backup of your WordPress website.
  • Allow or deactivate WordPress features such as XML-RPC.

If you want to explore FTP to learn more about it, we recommend that you use a staging site. This is a mirror of your website where you can make any improvements you need without impacting your live site.

Staging environments (sometimes called testing environments) can also be used to solve problems. A problem found on your original website (also known as a live site) would be present on your staging site since it is a replication.

 

FTP Upload vs CPanel in Table

CPanel File Manager is a web interface where all information on your site, including photos, documents, 404 pages, is organized into folders. It’s a fast and simple way to monitor, search, and edit your files.

Both cPanel File Manager and FTP have similar features in their ability to move files from one place to another. It’s what distinguishes FTP from the File Manager:

The cPanel

  • does not use an external client to transfer files
  • can quickly edit file names
  • easily arranges the directory
  • transfers files over HTTP
  • the file transfer is disconnected once your browser closes
  • transfers files at a slower rate
  • transfers a single file at a time

The FTP

  • uses an external program to run such as FileZilla or WinSCP Transfers files over FTP
  • the files continue to be transferred in the background
  • transfers files at a higher speed
  • is able to move the whole folder at once
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Connect to your WordPress account using FTP (FTP in WordPress)

Step 1: Back Up the Site

It’s important to consider the risks inherent in using FTP before you get started. You’ll make permanent adjustments directly to your site files, which if you’re not careful, might cause irreversible changes. It is also important to make sure that you have a recent backup in place so that you can recover your website if something goes wrong.

 

Step 2: Install FileZilla

When you have a backup of your site, install FileZilla by visiting the FileZilla website and clicking on the button to download the client:

Install FileZilla

Find and download the right version for your device, and then run the .exe file to install it. After that, you can simply start the client and no special configuration is needed.

 

Step 3: Connect to the Host Using FTP

You should see a screen similar to this when you open FileZilla:

FTP interface

There are four empty fields near the top: Host, Username, Password, and Port. The last field will be filled automatically. However, the first three show your special FTP credential.

You will need the FTP address of your web host, as well as your personal FTP username and password to access your site using FTP. All this data is provided by your hosting provider. How you find it may differ depending on the organization.

In general, you will need to log in to your hosting control panel and access your personal account details. Most hosts have documentation that tells you exactly where to look. If they don’t, your best option is to contact them directly.

If you have your credentials, simply enter them in FileZilla and press the QuickConnect button. Allow it a couple of moments to operate. Soon, you should see a message that lets you know the connection has been created.

It’s worth noticing that any time you want to access your site, you don’t have to re-enter your credentials. Instead, simply navigate to Server > Reconnect, and FileZilla will sign back to your host.

Alternatively, press the drop-down arrow next to the QuickConnect button, and then pick your server from there.

 

Step 4: Manage Your WordPress Files

Now that FileZilla is connected to your web server, you can see the files and folders in each of the four major quadrants:

FileZilla connected to a web server

The two quadrants on the left will show the files on your local machine, while the quadrants on the right will display the files on your website. All you need to do is drag and drop files between the two places.

On the right, you should see a folder named after the domain of your website (although it may also be called public HTML or WWW.) This is where all the data on your site is kept. Opening this will open a few more folders.

Most of the time, what you’re searching for is in the wp-content folder. This folder contains subfolders for your themes and plugins. This means that you can open your current theme to make changes, uninstall a theme, or add a new theme by copying and pasting it to your theme folder (or dragging it from your computer’s files).

You now know how to connect to your site using FTP and find the files of your website. If you spend some time exploring these files now, you’ll be well qualified whenever you need to use FTP in the future.

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Top FTP Client

As described earlier, an FTP client is a type of software that allows you to securely connect to your server and upload or download files.

There are several different options to choose from, with varying features and price tags, but we’ll only list four of the most common ones.

Transmit is not free, and is only available for Mac OS, but is a very popular option for Mac users. Both Cyberduck and Filezilla are free and available on Mac & Windows, making them great options.

The process of installation and use of Cyberduck and Filezilla (and several other choices, for that matter) will be very similar, so feel free to choose whatever piece of software you like most.

 

Final Thoughts

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a Protocol for uploading and downloading files from a server or transferring files between a server and a computer. And SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol that runs over the SSH protocol. It secures the function and authentication of the SSH.

You should never have to use FTP in normal circumstances. But there are quite a few situations where FTP is useful, such as when you try accessing your files via FTP to repair it and retrieve access to it, add or disable plugins and themes, and make changes to WordPress core files.

When connecting to your WordPress account using FTP, it is important to make sure that you have a recent backup in place so that you can recover your website if something goes wrong.

 

Questions

  1. What happens if part of the FTP message is not sent to the destination?

The message is lost because FTP does not use a secure method of distribution. The FTP source host sends a query to the host destination. The part of the FTP message that was lost will be re-sent. The whole FTP message will be re-sent.

 

  1. what is the difference between FTP and SFTP?

SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol that runs over the SSH protocol. It secures the function and authentication of the SSH.

This extra layer of protection ensures that the connection is authenticated with certificates so that the client and the server can form a stable and reliable connection. This offers a reasonable degree of security as long as the appropriate certificates are in order.

 

  1. What Is FTP Used for?

You’re primarily going to do three things with FTP:

  • Upload files to your website
  • Download files from your website
  • Delete files from your website

 

  1. What Are Top FTP Clients?

There are several different choices to choose from, with varying features and price tags, but we’ll only list four of the most common ones.

  • WinSCP: popular SFTP and FTP client, Microsoft Windows
  • Cyberduck: free, Mac & Windows
  • Filezilla: free, Mac & Windows
  • Transmit: paid, Mac only
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