FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. FTP is a standard network protocol that is widely used to transfer files from a server to a client, or vice versa, on a computer network.
FTP exchanges files over the Internet using the client–server model. The FTP client can upload, download, delete, rename, move and copy files on a server. FTP users authenticate themselves using a sign-in protocol, usually a username and password.
The File Transfer Protocol is most commonly used to download (back up) your website files from your web hosting server to your local computer, or to upload (restore/migrate) your website files to your FTP hosting space.
This article contains the following sections:
- FTP software
- How to obtain my FTP account information?
- Overview of FTP account types
- General settings and instructions how to connect via FTP
- Binary vs ASCII
I. FTP software:
Computer files can be transferred using FTP client software. The user's computer is called the local host machine and the second machine, called the remote host, is running FTP server software. FTP connections to the FTP server use port 21.
We would recommend an easy-to-use open source software called FileZilla. It has a graphical user interface, which simplifies the file transfers by allowing you to drag and drop file icons between windows. FileZilla is available for different platforms like Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Other popular free FTP programs are WinSCP (for Windows) and Cyberduck (for Mac).
II. How to obtain my FTP account information:
In order to obtain your FTP account credentials (Username and Password) follow the instructions below:
1. Sign in to SiteControl.
2. On the SiteControl Home page, click FTP in the Quick Access Tools section.
2.1: Alternatively, you can access the FTP Overview through the Website page. Under Manage Services, click Website. On the Website page, click FTP in the File Manager section.
3. On the FTP Overview page, you will be able to view the current FTP accounts. You can see their account type, FTP username and password.
If you have multiple web hosting plans under your account, make sure to select the correct domain name using the Currently Managing drop-down menu.
4. Click Account Info to obtain the full FTP account information. In order to connect to your web hosting and transfer files via FTP, you will need the following information: host, username, password and port.
III. Overview of FTP account types:
There are three types of FTP accounts – Master FTP Account, Additional FTP Account and Subdirectory (Subdir) FTP account. The difference between them is in the level of access with the Master FTP account having the highest level of access.
1. Master FTP account - it is automatically created during the provisioning of your website hosting plan. Besides the FTP access it has SSH (Linux plans only) access. The Master FTP account credentials can be found on the FTP Overview page in SiteControl. This type of account has the highest level of permissions and can view all files and folders unless restricted by file/folder owners.
2. Additional FTP account – it has access to the main website folder (usually “web” for Linux hosting and a folder called ‘www’ for Windows hosting) where files can be uploaded, but not all files and folders as the Master User.
3. Subdirectory (Subdir) FTP account – it has lowest level of access. This user cannot access the actual website folder and files for the domain and has its own separate folder created automatically with the name of the user.
IV. General settings and instructions how to connect via FTP:
Several options exist for transferring files using FTP, SSH, Windows command line, a browser, and an FTP client. The most popular of the aforementioned is an FTP client mainly due to its ease of use and the availability of many free of charge FTP clients.
Regardless of the method, files are transferred in the same fashion. However, the primary functional difference between using each method is how familiar you are with the FTP. Whereas an FTP client and a browser provide a graphical user interface, SSH and Windows command line do not. In the case of SSH and Windows command line, FTP commands must be typed.
Regardless of the method used to FTP, there are four required settings for all FTP connections:
||example.com or ftp.example.com|
||Master FTP Username|
||Master FTP Password|
Note: Replace example.com with your own domain name.
The vast majority of people use an FTP client because they are easy to use as well as having many useful features. An FTP client called "Filezilla" was used in the example below.
To FTP using Filezilla:
1. Launch FileZilla
2. In the Host field, type example.com or ftp.example.com
3. In the Username field, type your FTP username
4. In the Password field, type your FTP password
5. In the Port field, type 21.
6. Click Quickconnect.
Looking for more instructions how to use Filezilla? See the official Filezilla Documentation.
V. Binary vs ASCII:
FTP has two modes of transferring data: binary and ASCII. Depending on the data or type of file the appropriate transfer mode must be used. Otherwise, the file may be corrupted during the transfer and therefore unreadable. Binary refers to computer files or files in binary format that are not human readable. There are some elements in a binary file that can be read, but the content and context of the text is unrecognizable. ASCII or plain text files refer to files which contain only text, can be opened in a text editor, and are human readable. Common binary and ASCII file extensions are displayed in the table below.
.exe, .mp4, .mov, .webm, .jpg, .png, .gif
.txt, .html, .css, .php, .asp, .aspx, .pl, .cgi
The large majority of FTP clients contain a list of file extensions corresponding to binary or ASCII file types. Based on the list, the FTP client automatically switches to the correct transfer mode before uploading the file. However, when using SSH or Windows command line you must manually change the transfer mode.