I showed you how to access your file manager to work with a single item on your server (like a plugin or favicon), but sometimes you need to work with files in bulk. To do this, you’ll need to know how to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
What is FTP?
Basically, FTP lets you see the files on your computer and your server simultaneously. Then you can drag and drop them from one to the other.
Think of your computer and how all your files on it are organized. You can move things around by opening up File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) and dragging and dropping.
Just as your computer houses your personal computer files, a server (owned by your host) houses your website files. (Read my analogy about ice cream for more.)
FTP is simply a way to log in to your slice of your host’s server so you can manipulate your site’s files housed there.
You can use FTP for all sorts of things like uploading a file or folder to your root directory, seeing or editing files quickly or deleting several theme or plugin files at once.
I highly recommend becoming familiar with FTP as it is another one of those really helpful-to-have skills.
When to use FTP
For some reason, the term “FTP” strikes fear into many, but as you’ll see, once you’ve got an FTP client set up, it’s simple.
There aren’t a lot of times you’ll use FTP, but one of the main ones is to back up your site’s files. Being able to download all files at once (uploads, plugins, themes, etc.) is handy.
Preparing to use FTP
First you’ll need an FTP client which is basically a fancy way of saying you’ll need a program or application on your computer that will allow you to connect to your site’s server.
There are many free FTP clients available. Filezilla is a popular choice. Here are some others as well. I use Cyberduck (download buttons are under the duck). Simply download the FTP client, run it on your computer and follow the instructions for setup.
How to use FTP
When you’re ready to access your site files on your server:
- Open your FTP client on your computer.
- Enter your connection settings. These are details you’ll need from your host, such as:
- Port number
If you don’t know these, contact your host. Explain that you’re trying to use an FTP client and ask them for the credentials you need.
- Once you input the login details and are connected, you’ll see a window with all the files on your server listed, much like you would see your files listed on your computer. Drill down if needed, just as you would for folders on your computer.
If you’re backing up your site files, the main folder you want to copy is the wp-content folder. Select it and drag and drop it to a spot on your computer where you want to save the backup.
Read also: How to Backup Your WordPress Blog.