The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to transfer computer files between one computer and another over the internet. For us bloggers, it is a way of sending files from your computer to your web hosting server. FTP is a very useful tool, but many new bloggers are intimidated or even scared of it. They think FTP is for those with loads of tech know-how. It’s understandable; the main window of an FTP client like FileZilla looks complicated. Well, I’m here to demystify FTP and to show you how to set up your Bluehost FTP access with FileZilla. Everyone with a self-hosted blog should be able to access their files via FTP, and unless you start deleting files at random, there is really nothing to worry about.
Setting Up Your Bluehost FTP Access With FileZilla
There are many free FTP clients (software which uses the FTP protocol to transfer files to and from a remote computer) available, but the one I recommend is FileZilla. The first thing to do is visit their website and download the FTP client to your computer. The slideshow below will show you exactly what to do. We’re going to take this really slowly because many people have difficulties with setting up their FTP access. This guide is for setting up Bluehost FTP access, but the process is common to all web hosts, and FileZilla works the same no matter what web host you are using. Now, click the link to go to the FileZilla website and follow the slideshow below:
- Visit the FileZilla website and click Download FileZilla Client.
- Download the appropriate client for your platform. Windows is the big green button, Mac and Linux the small icons at the bottom.
- When you click download, the installation process will begin. Yes, you want to allow the following program to make changes.
- Yes, you agree to the terms of the agreement.
- If you share your computer, you can make FileZilla available on other user accounts too. Make your choice and click next.
- Choose which components you want to install. I installed them all. Click next.
- Choose where you want the program to be installed. To use the folder suggested just click next.
- Choose a start menu folder (where you will find the program when you click on the windows start button). I created a new folder as suggested. Click Install.
- All done. Tick to start FileZilla now then click finish.
- Now, sign in to your Bluehost account and go to your cPanel. Click on ftp.
- Set up a new FTP account by entering a login (it will be appended by your primary domain), entering a password, and putting a ‘/’ in the directory window. Click Create FTP Account.
- Your new account will appear under FTP Accounts. Click Configure FTP Client.
- As we’re using FileZilla, you should click to download the FileZilla FTP Configuration File. Save the XML file to your desktop.
- Next, return to FileZilla and go to File > Import…
- Locate the XML file you just downloaded from Bluehost, select it and click Open.
- Make sure Site Manager entries is ticked and click OK.
- Go to File > Site Manager…
- Select the FTP server you want to access. The account details on the right should match the details you just set up with Bluehost. Click Connect.
- Enter the password you just created with Bluehost and click OK. Your Bluehost FTP access is now complete.
FileZilla Main Window
The FileZilla main window is made up of a number of panes as shown below. Depending on which operating system you’re using, your main window may look a little different but essentially will be the same as below.
Here’s a quick color-coded tour of the main FileZilla window: Below the toolbar (1) and quick connect bar (2), the message log (3) displays transfer and connection related messages. Below that you can find the file listings. The left column is the local site (4) and displays the local files and directories, i.e. the stuff on the computer you’re using. The right column is the remote site (5) and displays the files and directories on the server you are connected to. Both columns have a directory tree at the top and a detailed listing of the currently selected directory’s contents at the bottom. You can easily navigate either of the trees and lists by clicking around like in any other file manager. At the bottom of the window is the transfer queue (6) which lists the to-be-transferred and already transferred files.
Uploading and Downloading Files
Uploading files means moving them from the local site to the remote site (i.e. from your computer to your web hosting server). Downloading files is the opposite; moving files from the remote site to the local site (i.e. from your web host server to your computer).
To upload files, in the local pane navigate to the directory which contains the data to be uploaded. Next, in the remote pane navigate to the directory that you want to upload the data to. To upload the data, select the files and drag them from the local pane to the remote pane. The files will be added to the transfer queue at the bottom of the window and will soon disappear again once they are uploaded to the server. The uploaded files should now be displayed in the remote site listing at the right side of the window.
In the example below, I want to upload the file New Theme to my themes folder. I’ve navigated to Desktop (where New Theme is saved) in the upper local pane and themes in the upper remote pane. Then I simply drag New Theme from the lower local pane to the lower remote pane.
If you’re concerned about dragging and dropping files into the wrong folder, you can right-click on the files to be uploaded in the lower local pane and select Upload to upload them as shown below.
Downloading files is exactly the same, except in this case, after navigating to the correct local and remote directories, you drag-and-drop files from the remote pane to the local pane. Again, instead of dragging and dropping, you can right-click on the files to be downloaded in the lower remote pane and select Download to download them.