When you use any of the self-hosted platforms like wordpress.org, it is necessary to know how to work with FTP applications. FileZilla is one of the easy to use File Transfer Protocol applications widely used by webmasters. You can use FileZilla to download files from your hosting server, upload new files and edit existing files remotely. If you are looking for learning how to use FTP, here is a FileZilla guide for beginner level users on how to setup FileZilla application and do file transfer.
Downloading FileZilla App
FileZilla is a free and open source software which you can download from FileZilla project website. FileZilla is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and you can download the one based on your need. When you are on their website, click on “Download FileZilla Client” button. This will automatically take you to the download page for Mac or Windows based on your computer’s operating system.
Earlier, you have to download the application from sourceforge.net website. However, this is not required any amore and you can directly download the app from FileZilla site. You have three options available for downloading – standard FileZilla, with manual and pro.
The manual version offers a PDF manual along with the app download which will cost you $4.99. The basic app is the same for all three versions except with pro version you can use cloud services. You can download the free app from their site or get the pro app from App Store.
Connecting to Server
After successfully downloading and installing the app, launch FileZilla on your PC or Mac. The first step is to add your FTP account and connect your hosting server remotely. For that, click on the “Site Manager” icon available on top left corner. (The icon may be showing different in latest FileZilla versions).
Add your FTP account details which you must have created with your hosting company. If you don’t know how to create FTP account, read our article on how to connect Bluehost FTP account with FileZilla.
- Click on “New Site” button.
- Enter a name for your site.
- Add FTP account details of your hosting account.
- Click on “Connect” button to connect to hosting server.
FileZilla Screen Overview
Once you connected to hosting server the screen will look something like below with various sections. Don’t get panic by looking various sections, it will take few minutes for you to understand the screen overview of FileZilla.
- Quickconnect bar – This is used to connect to your hosting server quickly. If you have already connected through site manager as explained above then this is of no use on the screen. If you connect using quickconnect bar then click on “Copy current connection to Site Manager…” option available under “File” menu to copy the settings to site manager.
- Message Log – Here you can view the connection status, command and response when you open each directory of your site on the server side. The file transfer status will also be shown here.
- Local Site – This section is divided into two hals and all the folders of a selected path on your local system will be shown here in the first half. When a folder is selected, all files and folders under the selected folder will be showing in the second half.
- Remote Site – Like local site, this section contains two halves to show remote site’s folder and the content inside the selected folder showing below. Remote site is nothing but your live site hosted on the server.
- Transfer Queues – Here you can view the status of the transfer when you download, upload or edit a file on the server.
If you feel the screen is congested, you can enable or disable each section of the screen from the “View” menu or resize the viewing area by dragging the horizontal and vertical section dividers.
Note: FileZilla toolbar shown above the quickconnect bar has quick shortcut icons for site manager, toggle each sections, disconnect server and few other options. Filelist status bars show the number of files and directories under the selected folders of local and remote site sections.
Upload, Download, View and Edit Files
Drag and drop files between local and remote sites to download or upload the files from or to server.
You can also select the option of upload, download, delete, view and edit by right clicking on the file. Whenever you open and close the file from server, you will be automatically prompted whether you want to upload the edited file or discard the changes.
Click on the checkbox “Finish editing and delete local file” to delete the local copy of the sever file. This is an useful option when you open the same file multiple times for editing.
Status of file upload and download can be seen both in message log and transfer queue sections.
Transfer queue has three sections – Queued files, Failed transfers and Successful transfers and each sections shows the corresponding file’s status.
File Permission Settings
Each file on the server is set with a permission to decide who can view or edit that file. Especially when you create a new directory, you may need to check or change the file permission so that editors from the front end can modify that file. Current file permission can be seen under the “Permissions” columns and right click on the file or folder and choose “File Permissions…” option to change the permission.
In the pop-up menu, select the read, write or execute option for each category of owner, group and public. Based on the selection the numeric value will change which is the one you will be seeing under “Permissions” column as explained above.
Viewing Hidden Files
Depending on the server settings sometimes hidden files are not shown in FileZilla and hence you will not be able to see files like .htaccess. Select “Force showing hidden files” option from “Server” menu to view and edit hidden files.
You will see a warning message like below when enabling this option. If you are not able to view normal directory structure properly then disable this option and try again.
Disconnecting from Server
After you have completed the transactions it is recommended to close your connection by choosing “Disconnect” option from “Server” menu.
Following are some of the general operations you can do with FileZilla:
- Double click on the server file to download it to the local computer.
- Right click and choose View/Edit option to view or edit the file on the hosting server.
- Drag and drop files from local folder to server folder.
- Monitor transfer under “Transfer Queues”.
FileZilla is ideal FTP program for connecting to hosting server remotely for uploading, downloading and modifying files. You can use this app when migrating the whole site content to another hosting company.
- Very easy to configure and connect to server
- Supports FTP, FTPS and SFTP clients
- Drag and drop support
- Directory comparison
- Available in 47 languages
- Open source and free
- Tabbed and easy graphical user interface
- Works on macOS X, Windows and Linux based computers
- Missing on-screen explanation of error messages.