Your website needs updating, and you’ve touched based with a developer. Sooner or later they will ask for your FTP details. There’s no need to freeze at the sight of acronyms. All you need to know is what FTP does, and what to tell your web designer.
What Is FTP?
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is the great gateway through which you add, delete and modify website files. It’s the ‘My Documents’ area of your website, which the developer uses to navigate your site’s backend without slow-loading software or control panels.
Your site’s FTP details can normally be found through your hosting control panel. When you are asked for them, you need to provide the following:
As the name suggests, this is the address where your site will be accessed. This will be something like ftp.yourwebsite.com, an IP address, or a unique web address provided by your hosting company.
The username and password control who can access your site files, and which directories they can see. In most cases this puts you straight into the root folder, or public_html. Larger servers or multi-site setups might have usernames that take you to a specific subfolder, thus locking users out of sensitive or irrelevant areas.
The FTP usernames and passwords are either created when you sign up, or can be manually configured from the hosting control panel.
Can I Edit With FTP?
You can edit with FTP, and it’s remarkably easy. Services such as Cyberduck or FileZilla are free to download, and while the UI isn’t very swanky, it is easy enough to login and edit files using notepad software or a code editor like Sublime Text.
Clients with static websites can use File Transfer Protocol to edit their websites without consulting their developer. Obviously, it’s not worth changing things you’re unsure about, but if all you need to do is alter a heading or edit some content, then that’s fine.
Websites that use Content Management are best edited through the official ‘user’ channels. There’s no about-us.html file in a WordPress website; text content is stored in a database elsewhere, and that can be changed through easier means in the WordPress dashboard.
FTP gives web developers access to your website’s files and folders. Through it, they can upload your project, look into your code and make important structural edits. This is particularly important for launching, migrating or troubleshooting websites.
You can find your details by visiting your hosting control panel and searching for FTP settings. If this isn’t clear, contact your host’s support team, or give your developer the logins so they can find it themselves. It is very rare that a hosting company will block you from accessing it altogether.
File Transfer Protocol does not give access to your website’s database, which for CMS websites contains your content, options, user settings and so forth. That information can be accessed via PHPMyAdmin, which I will address in a separate blog post.
Happy protocoling of your file transfers! Chuckle.
By Bruce Sigrist in: Guides