How to access FTP from your server and website

A very frequent question I get is how we can access the FTP of our hosting, server and website.

Do we need a special program? Is technical knowledge required? What can we do with this access?

All these are important questions that I will seek to answer in this article. If you are in the process of learning to become a web developer, then I will give you all the resources needed to master this area.

If you simply want a simple way to access and control your site’s files, this is also a good place to consult.

What is FTP

There are several ways of communication between machines on the internet. When we access a website, we are using a protocol called HTTP from our browser to the server. This protocol speaks to the server:

“A browser is in need of the following files:[nome dos arquivos]”

Then the server responds:

“All right, i’m not going to be Here they go.”

And then you can see the pages (like this one).

In the case of FTP, we are also dealing with a protocol. However it is a specific protocol for file transfer. Its name is also File Transfer Protocol – translating: File Transfer Protocol.

Through it, you create a connection between two computers via the Internet and can pass files between them.

FTP emerged in the 1970s and has been developing ever since to improve its security, adapt to new networks and become one of the main ways to pass files online.

Of course, we can use FTP for several cases, however here we will focus on its applicability for the creation and maintenance of websites.

When we create a website, we need to host it somewhere. Typically this place is a machine that goes online all day in a datacenter and is managed by a large company.

To connect with this machine, which could be thousands of miles away from us, we use FTP to send the site files to it.

Thus, when a user accesses the site, he searches for the files that we created on that remote server.

How FTP works

Always in the communication between two machines when transferring files we have two roles:

  • Client
  • Server

The Client, which is usually us, is the party that requests an action for the other party, the Server. He requesting the connection.

The Server, in turn, has the ability to have other machines connected to it so that it can perform the functions required of it.

For this connection to be secure, the Customer must provide some information:

  • Address
  • Login
  • Password
  • Door

The address is the URL that will point via DNS to the Server machine.

The login and password are the credentials required for the Server to validate:

  • If you can actually have access to the files
  • What files can you access
  • How many files you can transfer
  • Other details

Because the address is public – anyone can access it – you need to have that login and password to prevent unauthorized individuals from tampering with the files.

Finally, the port is simply the communication channel with the server. Online machines have access ports. Just as your home can have the front door and the back door, internet-connected computers open only a few communication ports.

For FTP, you have a specific port as well as for HTTP.

And what is the difference between FTP, FTPS and SFTP?

You may have already come across the terms FTPS and SFTP, either on your hosting or even in your searches.

In detail, they have several differences, but for us who just want to know when to use them, we can summarize in the following:

  • FTPS: Increasingly unencrypted internet communication is risky, FTPS adds a layer of SSL encryption to FTP communication. That is, your data and files are encrypted for before they are transferred and are decrypted when they arrive at the server. Thus ensuring the security of the files.
  • SFTP: The purpose and the encrypted communication function is also similar here to FTPS, however there is a big difference between these communications: SFTP is a different protocol. It uses the SSH transfer protocol, which communicates as a Shell account on the server. This is a topic for another article, but just know that this is the most secure transfer format among the three.

Basically, what’s more important to know is that you shouldn’t use FTP too much without encryption protection. Whether it’s SFTP or FTPS, use these options when provided by your hosting system.

How we access the server through FTP

Now that we understand a little more about the protocol, we just need to know how we have access to this protocol, don’t we?

So, for this we need to use a software that facilitates this connection.

The best software currently to do ftp management and connections is FileZilla.

It is 100% free, works on Windows, Linux and Mac and is also very simple to use.

There are 100% online ways to access FTP directly from your browser, but the best and safest are paid for. So I see no reason for its use being that you can quickly install FileZilla on your computer.

When you enter the site, you will click the FileZilla Client download button and not filezilla server.

When downloading it and installing it on your PC, just open it and you will have the connection options.

how ftp works

Right from the start, you have in the top bar the four fields I mentioned above that are needed for your connection (Host/Address, User, Password, Port).

When you connect with another computer, the files and folders of the server appear on the right side, while on the left side we have the files and folders of our own computer.

FTP file transfer

When you drag a file from the lower right block to the bottom left block, you pass the server file to your computer and vice versa.

In general, in your own hosting you get the data for the connection to your server. If the host, login, password and port are not evident in any location, you can ask the support that they will arrange for you.

Even some hosting systems, such as cPanel, already come with an online FTP client, which may be interesting to upload some smaller or faster files.

Conclusion

FTP is a file transfer protocol between two computers. More specifically between a client and a server. We can use it to send files to our websites and also pull files from our website to our computer.

I often use it to publish my clients’ websites and also my sites. In particular, it is widely used in the development of WordPress sites.

Was it clearer how it works and when we use FTP? Tell me in the comments.

Enjoy!

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André Lug

André Lug

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