How to access your website files using FTP

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a way of transferring files between the client and server. Learn how to set up an FTP client to be able to access your website’s files.

If you own a website or blog there’s a good chance you will have heard of FTP.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a way of transferring files between the client and server.

FTP is often used to access your the files that power your website, and you can use it to upload and download files. You can a piece of software called an FTP client to connect your computer to your website, and in order to gain access you need to use specific credentials (username, password, server address, port) that are specific to your hosting package.

So say for example you were installing WordPress manually. You would use FTP to upload the WordPress files to your website server. Or maybe you’re setting up Google Search Console and you have been given a file that you need to upload to your server. Again, you would use FTP to do this.

There is also something called SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol (or SSH File Transfer Protocol), which is just a more secure version of FTP.

It’s worth noting that not all types of hosting will allow you to access your website files via FTP or SFTP (for example, managed hosting), but I personally think having access to your website files. If something goes wrong with the backend of your website then a developer can use FTP or SFTP to go in to investigate (and hopefully resolve!) the issue.

If you are feeling confused right now then don’t worry! Hopefully it will make more sense as you read through the rest of this post.

In this post I will show you how to access your website files via FTP and SFTP using FileZilla. I’ll show you how to set up FileZilla and where to find your FTP credentials.

1 | Download FileZilla

First things first you will need to download a FTP client. There are many FTP clients out there but my personal favourite is FileZilla.

You can download FileZilla for free from here. Once you are on the homepage, click on Download FileZilla Client.

If you use a different operating system to Windows, you will need to click on the logo of your operating system under the More download options heading.

Download FileZilla client | HollyPryce.com

After clicking on the download link, a pop up will appear that will ask you to choose which version of Filezilla you would like to download. I always choose the free version so I just click on Download.

Download FileZilla client | HollyPryce.com

This will start the download.

2 | Install and open FileZilla

Once FileZilla has finished downloading you will need to run the installer.

Fortunately FileZilla is very easy to install. All you have to do is work through the setup wizard.

Install FileZilla client | HollyPryce.com

You may be asked if you want to install additional software (normal Avast). I would advise not installing them and just focusing on FileZilla for now.

Eventually you will see a screen that looks like this:

Install FileZilla client | HollyPryce.com

As you will see, the option to start Filezilla now is ticked. Leave this as it is and click Finish.

FileZilla will then open and you will see a screen that looks like this:

FileZilla client interface | HollyPryce.com

3 | Find your FTP or SFTP credentials

Now you have installed FileZilla, it’s time to connect your account using your FTP or SFTP credentials. The credentials you will need are:

  • Host/server address
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port

Your credentials for FTP and SFTP may be very similar. Usually the port number is different.

You might be wondering “Where can I find my FTP credentials?“. Well, this will entirely depend on who your website is hosted with.

Sometimes, your FTP details will be in one of your welcome emails from your host. For example, my website is hosted by Namecheap (who I highly recommend by the way!), and Namecheap send you your website’s FTP in an email when you purchase hosting from them:

FTP and SFTP credentials in an email from Namecheap | HollyPryce.com

I’ve blurred out my FTP credentials for security reasons.

If you didn’t received an email containing your FTP credentials when you purchased your hosting (or you’ve lost it!) then I would recommend contacting your host directly, or Googling the name of your host followed by “ftp credentials”. From here you should be able to find some articles telling you how to find your FTP credentials

If you cannot find your FTP credentials but you have access to a cPanel account you can always set up a new FTP account.

To do this, log in to cPanel, scroll down to the Files section and click FTP Accounts.

FTP Accounts cPanel | HollyPryce.com

On the FTP Accounts page, scroll down until you see the Add FTP Account form that looks like this:

Add FTP Accounts in cPanel | HollyPryce.com

Start by entering a login. This can be anything like your name or a nickname. Then select you domain if the domain that is selected isn’t the correct one.

Then choose a password and the directory that you want to connect to when you login via FTP. If you just want to go the top level directory for your website, just leave this blank.

When you’re done, click Create FTP Account.

Once you have created your account, scroll down to the section on the page titled FTP Accounts. Look for the login you just set up and click Configure FTP Client. This will reveal your FTP credentials.

FTP Accounts in cPanel | HollyPryce.com

4 | Add your FTP credentials to FileZilla

Now you know your FTP credentials, head back to FileZilla.

To add your FTP credentials to FileZilla, click on File then Site Manager.

Site manager in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

This will open the site manager. If you haven’t used FileZilla before then you won’t see any websites in the Select Entry section of the site manager, but as you can see, I have a connection to my other website, Empfire.

To add your website click New Site.

Add new site in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

This will add a new site to the Select Entry section. Start by giving your new site a name. You can always rename this site by clicking the Rename button in the bottom left hand corner of the site manager.

Add new site in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

On the right hand side of the screen in the General tab you will now have the option to enter your credentials.

Firstly, you need to choose the protocol. If you are using FTP, leave it as FTP – File Transer Protocol. However, if you are using SFTP, click the dropdown arrow and select SFTP – SHH File Transfer Protocol.

Add new site in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

Then enter your server address into the Host field, and your port number into the Port field (usually 21 for FTP and 21098 for SFTP).

If you are using FTP you will also see an option called Encryption. You should set this to Require explicit FTP over TLS. You won’t see this option if you are using SFTP.

Add new site in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

Next you need to choose your login type. Click on the dropdown list and select normal. This applies to both FTP and SFTP.

Add new site in FileZilla | HollyPryce.com

Now enter your username and password.

When you are ready, click Connect.

If you managed to connect successful you will now see your website files on the right hand side of the screen. Again, I’ve blurred mine out for privacy reasons.

FileZilla connected | HollyPryce.com

If your connection wasn’t successful, and you can’t see your website files, double check you have all entered your credentials correctly. If you are still having problems once you have double checked your credentials, I recommend contacting your hosting provider. They should be able to confirm whether you have the correct credentials or not.

Now that you have access to the backend of your website, you can easily upload and create new files, as well as edit and delete existing files. But be careful not to delete anything important!

Pin for later?