WordPress is great. 99% of what you need to do you can do through the admin dashboard. But what of the other 1%?
Sometimes you will need to access the files on your host directly. You may have some non-WordPress pages that you need to manipulate, or perhaps want to swap one photo for another without messing with WordPress. So how do you do that? With an FTP client.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is the de facto standard on the internet for moving files from place A to place B. You may have actually used it through your Windows Explorer without knowing it.
There is a good, free FTP client called FileZilla. FileZilla is donation supported, so if you use it and like it send them a few bucks as a thank you. To install FileZilla, first go to its website FileZilla-Project.org.
On the homepage, you will see two big grey buttons. You want to select the first one, Download FileZilla Client. Click it, and you are taken to a screen that allows you to select your operating system from between Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Obviously you should pick the one appropriate for your situation.
Download and install the program as you would any other program. When it is set, launch the program.
Now that you are in FileZilla, take a moment to look around. You will need to enter the location with which you want to transfer files, and need to enter that information across the top of the screen. You will need to enter your Host, Username, Password, and Port. If you know all this information, you can just enter it at the top of the FileZilla screen.
If you do not know this information, where do you get it? At your hosting provider. Now HostGator has a whole instruction set to help you set up FTP accounts, but for what I need to do it did not work. So here is what does work for me.
Select Site Manager from the File Menu. Once in Site manager, you need to verify a few fields. First, click the New Site button. Up in the Select Entry window (top right) there will now appear a “New Site” entry. Change this name to something relevant.
Next, change your host name. Most likely the name is FTP.YourDomain.com (you do not need to capitalize, and YourDomain.com should be whatever domain you want to ftp to). You can enter a port number if you have problems, but I do not and it works just fine.
Change the Login Type to Normal, then enter your username and password in the next two fields. I used the username and password that I use to login to cPanel. Once you have made these changes, click the Advanced tab at the top.
On this tab you should set your default local directory to whatever is convenient for you. It is not critical if you choose to skip this step, as you will always have the option to browse to where you need to go anyway. It just makes life easier.
The default remote directory can be set to /public_html/. That way you will upload your files straight to where they can be found on the internet. (This assumes, of course, that you want your files to end up on the internet.) I personally do not do that as I need to access to my entire directory tree and it annoys me to have to backtrack when I log in.
With that, click Connect and you will be ready to transfer files between your personal computer and your web host.
Then head over to my step by step instructions on how to do WordPress!