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Quickly and Easily Access Your Sites Files with FTP

Many WordPress tutorials require the use of an FTP client to upload files to your site.  However, the issue for people new to WordPress is that this handy tool (FTP client) is often referred to but rarely explained.  In this Upload WP tutorial, we’ll explain what FTP actually is and we’ll show you how you can use it to make easy updates to your WordPress site.

FTP Explained

FTP is short for “File Transfer Protocol”.  Simply put, FTP is a way to quickly and easily upload or download files to your WordPress site using an external program (FTP Client).  You may be thinking, “Can’t I just use Cpanel or the WordPress uploader for that?”  Yes you can, however, Cpanel is notoriously clunky and the WordPress uploader is severely limited in functionality.  The use of an FTP client will allow you to quickly upload, download and edit your sites files without going through multiple logins.

Setting Up FTP:

Step One:  Download and install an FTP client.  Filezilla and Cyberduck are two popular free options.  For the purposes of this tutorial we will show you how to set up your FTP account using Cyberduck because it features a more user friendly interface than Filezilla.  We will also use Cpanel as our default administration program.

Step Two:  Create an FTP account.  Login to your site’s Cpanel and locate “FTP Accounts.”  Enter in your login information (this can be what ever you want, it does not have to match your WordPress login).  Cpanel will automatically fill in the directory field with whatever username you choose.  Change this to whatever your sites directory is, otherwise it will create a new directory using your FTP username.  Click “Create FTP Account.”

Step Three:  Configure your Cyberduck FTP Client.  Open Cyberduck by clicking “Open Connection” in the upper left corner.  Cyberduck defaults to FTP (File Transfer Protocol), but if you try to connect with the account you just created, it will fail.  Cpanel creates the account as FTP-SSL (Explicit AUTH TLS).  This is just a more secure version of FTP.  Click the drop down arrow and select FTP-SSL.  Enter your login information.  “Server” will be your site (domainname.com), leave “Port” set to 21, and enter your “Username” as “username@domainname.com.”  Enter your password and click Connect.

Note: You will get a warning saying the certificate is not valid and you might be connecting to a server masquerading as your site.  You can ignore this message if you are certain you’ve entered your login information correctly.  It is simply looking for a security certificate, which you likely don’t have or need.

You can now see, download and edit your website files with your Cyberduck FTP tool.

A great feature of FTP clients is the ability to directly edit site files without having to download them.  To do this, right click the file you want to edit, and select your text editor.  If you edit and save the file, it will automatically upload to your site – saving time and energy.  As always, be sure to back up a copy of any file you plan on changing.

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