How to Use FTP to Manage Your Website Files in Linux

Posted on by Chika Ibeneme
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you own or manage a website, you will often find yourself in a situation where you want to access the files on the site. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one of the common methods that developers use to transfer files between the client (local machine) and the server. In this case, the client is your local Linux machine.

FTP provides a convenient and easy way to manage the files on your site, especially in Linux environments where command-line tools are commonly used. With FTP, you have the option to upload, download, and modify files on your web server as long as you have access to it. To do this, you need to have FTP software installed on your machine.

If you're keen to learn more about using FTP to manage your website files, this article is for you. This article will discuss everything you need to know about transferring files between your Linux machine and website using FTP. So, without wasting any more of your time, let's explore how you can transfer files between your Linux machine and website.

Manage Your Website Files Using FTP

Step 1: Install FTP Client Software on Your Linux Machine

To get started using this method, you will need to install FTP client software on your Linux machine or client. The good news is that there are several free FTP client applications available on the web. Even the premium ones have a free version that is good enough for basic file management. Some of the popular FTP client software include such as FileZilla, vsftpd, proftpd, and pure-ftpd.

Choose one of these and install it on your machine using your Linux distribution's package manager. In this guide, we will use FileZilla to illustrate the procedure. FileZilla is one of the easiest cross-platform FTP client software that you can use to easily upload, download or modify files on your server.

To download FileZilla, follow these steps:

1. Open the web browser on your machine and go to the FileZilla website.

2. Click on the Download FileZilla Client option on the homepage of the site to download the installation file. The good news is that the FileZilla website will automatically detect your machine’s OS. If it doesn’t, you will still see the option to choose your OS once you hit the download button.

Once the download is complete, run the installation file to install it on your machine. Alternatively, you can use Terminal to install this software.

Step 2: Get Your FTP Login Credentials

After installing FileZilla on your machine, launch it to get started. The UI of FileZilla FTP client software will display two panels, including the Local Site panel on the left, which displays files on your local computer, and the Remote Site panel on the right, which displays files on the remote server.

Before logging in to your server, the panel on the right will be blank since it is not yet connected to your website’s server. So, you will need to obtain your FTP or SFTP credentials to log in and access these files.

The key credentials you will need include the following:

  • Host/Server address: The domain name or IP address of your server.
  • Username: This is the username created for accessing your server.
  • Password: This is the password you use to log in to your server.
  • Port: This is the port number used for the FTP or SFTP connection.

Typically, these details are sent to your email after subscribing to a new hosting plan. If you can’t find the details, contact your host for further help.

Step 3: Log Into Your Server

Once you have these credentials, you can add them to FileZilla using the steps:

1. While in the FileZilla app, click on the File button at the top menu and select Site Manager.

2. Under Site Manager, click New Site and input the name of your site or any name of your choice. FileZilla also gives you the option to change this name whenever you wish.

3. On the right-hand side section of the app interface, click the General tab and choose your protocol type. It can either be FTP or Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). After choosing the protocol, enter your server address and port number.

4. Still, under the General Tab, you will have to set the encryption type. For FTP, set it to Require explicit FTP over TLS. If you had selected SFTP, choose SFTP - SSH File Transfer Protocol.

5. Under the logon type, select Normal. This option is also under the General Tab. You will now see the option to input your username and password. After inputting these details, click Connect. You should now see the files on your server on the right panel of the app's interface.

If the connection is not successful, it could be possible that you entered the wrong credentials. So, double-check the credentials and ensure they are all correct. You should also make sure your website server is up and running. You can easily check for this by trying to access your website's URL through your browser.

Managing Your files

Now that you have access to your website server, you can upload files to your server or download them from your server to the local machine. Here is how you can upload, download, or modify files on your server.

Uploading Files to Your Server

1. Start by connecting to your server using the steps we have just discussed

2. Make sure the files on both panels (Local site on the left and Remote site on the right) are visible

3. Look through the files on your Local site panel and choose the ones you would love to upload.

4. After selecting the files, drag and drop them from the Local Site panel to the Remote Site panel.

5. All the selected files will start uploading to your server. The upload speed will depend on your internet connection and the hardware of your server. Make sure you have a stable and fast internet connection to avoid errors while uploading the files. 

Downloading Files

The steps for downloading the files are similar to those we shared above in the “uploading’ section. The only difference is that this time, you will have to drag the files from the Remote Site Panel to the Local Site Panel. You can also make the changes to the downloaded files on your local machine and re-upload them to your server.

Final Thoughts

We have covered all the detailed steps you will go through to manage your server files right from your Linux local machine. Using an FTP client software like FileZilla, you can easily connect to your website's server and upload, download, and modify files. The steps are straightforward and do not require any special expertise. All you need are the credentials for logging into your server. If you don't have them, contact your hosting provider for help.

Avatar for Chika Ibeneme

About the Author: Chika Ibeneme

Chika Ibeneme is a Community Support Agent at The Events Calendar. He received his BA in Computer Science in 2017 from Northern Caribbean University and has over 5 years of technical experience assisting customers and clients. You can find him working on various WordPress and Shopify projects.

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