How To Transfer Data Between Your Computer And Your Server: FTP
In this section, you will learn the most common methods for transferring data between your computer and your server:
- How to set up a Desktop FTP client,
- How to use cPanel’s “File Manager” to transfer (i.e. upload and download) files between your computer and your web server.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
This section explains how to set up both a “browser-based” FTP application (transfer files from your computer and your server using your internet browser), and a “desktop-based” FTP application (transfer files using your computer or laptop).
Setting Up A Desktop FTP Client
Transferring files using a desktop FTP application like Filezilla is similar to using a browser based FTP client.
Filezilla is a free desktop FTP application and is the FTP application we use and recommend here at SwellHost.
Watch the video below to learn how to transfer files using a desktop FTP application …
In addition to the above video overview, we have added an entire video training section to this site on how to install and use Filezilla. If you need more information on how to set up and use Filezilla to transfer data, then see these tutorials.
Data Transfer Using cPanel
cPanel is a server administration control panel program that makes it very easy for users to control most aspects of their web servers using a simple point-and-click interface.
cPanel offers an alternative to FTP for uploading files to your web server and as a SwellHost customer you have your own cPanel already setup.
Here are a couple of reasons why you may want to use cPanel to upload and download files to your server and local computer instead of using FTP:
- Sometimes it can be faster to upload/download files using cPanel than using FTP
- cPanel makes it easy to upload zipped files and then extract all of the files to a directory in your server.
- cPanel makes it easy to zip and download compressed files to your computer
- If you experience difficulties uploading files using FTP (e.g. connection keeps interrupting), try doing it through cPanel
cPanel: Step-By-Step Tutorial
In this tutorial, you will learn about cPanel’s “File Manager” feature for uploading files from your computer or external hard drive to your web server and we’ll then go through a step-by-step example on how to upload and extract a zipped file.
Log into cPanel …
“File Manager” is located in the “Files” section of your cPanel administration window.
Click the File Manager icon to access this feature …
Your server files are now visible inside the “File Manager” section …
Some of the main functions you will be using inside the “File Manager” section when performing your WordPress site maintenance and updates are:
Move File – allows you to select files and move them into another directory. This feature is useful when performing manual updates of your WordPress site.
Upload – allows you to upload files directly into your server. This feature is useful when performing manual updates of your WordPress site, restoring blog data, or reinstalling your WordPress site.
Download – allows you to download files from your server to your local machine. This feature is useful when performing manual backups of your WordPress site.
Delete -allows you to delete selected folders and files on your server.
Extract -allows you to unzip files inside your server directories. This feature is useful when performing manual updates of your WordPress site, restoring blog data, or reinstalling your WordPress site.
Compress – allows you to zip (compress) folders inside your server directories. This feature is useful when performing manual updates of your WordPress site, restoring blog data, or reinstalling your WordPress site.
Directory Navigation Menu Buttons – Useful navigation features inside the “File Manager” section include “Up One Level”, “Reload”, “Select All” and “Unselect All”. These features are all demonstrated in later module tutorials.
Using File Manager To Upload And Extract Zipped Files
In this example, we’ll show you how to upload and extract a zipped plugin file to your server.
First, make sure you have your zipped file ready for upload …
Next, log into cPanel and open up the File Manager panel …
You can drill down folder hierarchies by double-clicking on the upper directory folders …
Locate the folder in your server where you will be uploading your file into and click Upload. In the screenshot below, we will be uploading a zipped plugin file into the “plugins” folder section of your WordPress installation …
A new screen called Upload files will open up on your browser. Click the Browse button as shown below to locate and select the zipped file you prepared earlier …
Select the file and click Open to begin uploading the file to your server …
Wait until your file has finished uploading, then close the Upload files screen to return to the main File Manager screen …
Click on Reload to refresh the screen …
Your zipped file has been uploaded (1). Click on Extract to decompress (unzip) your file (2) …
A pop-up window will appear asking you to confirm the location where your files will be extracted to. Click Extract File(s) to continue …
The Extraction Results window appears when all of your files have finished being extracted. Click Close to to return to the File Manager screen …
Click Reload to refresh your screen …
Your file is now uploaded to your server …
You can also delete the original zip file from your server to save space and keep your folder free of unnecessary clutter …
The above method for uploading files to your server is useful to know. Large files that can take a long time to upload via FTP usually upload in seconds or a few minutes only when transferred using File Manager.
You can also use this method if you ever experience problems using the built-in update features of WordPress (see below).
WordPress Automatic Updates
WordPress has a built-in feature that allows you to automatically transfers data like new software versions, plugins and themes from the main WordPress site (WordPress.org) to the WordPress installation files in your server. It also automatically uploads, extracts and places all data directly into the correct folders in your web server.
The ability to perform updates automatically directly inside your WordPress admin area is extremely convenient, and is the method for updating your WordPress site that we recommend.
If you are having issues with the automatic updates, there is a manual option. As WordPress states on their site: “If the automatic upgrade doesn’t work for you, don’t panic, just try a manual update.”
As you will learn in the tutorials below, the automatic updating feature in WordPress is useful for:
- Updating WordPress automatically to its latest version
- Uploading and installing WordPress Plugins to your server
- Updating WordPress plugins automatically to their latest version
- Uploading and installing WordPress Themes to your site
- Updating WordPress Themes automatically to their latest version
Related FTP Tutorial:
To learn how to make files writable on your server using FTP, see this tutorial: Setting Server File Permissions