How To: Using Filezilla

Featured on BlogHer
Featured on BlogHer on 17 October 2012

FileZilla is an open source, cross-platform, secure FTP client. This tutorial walks you through the download, making a quick FTP connection, uploading files and saving the server settings.

FTP ProcessFTP is stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is a way to move files between computers on a network. SFTP, or secure FTP, means the client uses SSH (secure shell) to transfer files. SFTP will encrypt both commands and data; this means that passwords and sensitive information is not sent over the network in the clear. You cannot use a standard FTP client to connect to an SFTP server. Filezilla is both an FTP and an SFTP client.

Why use FTP? With FTP, you can easily transfer lots of files from your computer to a web server. Plus, you can upload a zipped folder of images, for example, to a Linux server, then unzip (extract) the images on the server. This is faster than uploading them one-at-a-time.

FTP can also be used as a protocol for making files available to others. However, this tutorial focuses on FTP as a process for managing files on your web server.

Before we get started, download the Filezilla client (not server!); documentation.

1. Install and then launch the application.

FileZilla : Annotated
  1. Menu Bar : This looks and acts like every menu bar in your OS
  2. Toolbar : The toolbar provides one-click access to frequently used commands
  3. Quick Connect Bar : Allows quick access to an FTP server whose address is not in your site manager. This is like typing a website address into the URL bar instead of using a bookmark.
  4. Local Pane : Shows the contents of your local drives. Think Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder.
  5. Server Pane : Shows the contents of the (remote) server.
  6. Transfer Queue : Shows status of files being transferred from your local drive or from the server.

2. Use Quick Connect to make an FTP connection.

FileZilla Quick Connect
  • Enter the address of the FTP server into the host field of the Quickconnect bar. Your web host will give you this information, usually in an email confirming your account.
  • If you are connecting to an SFTP server, you will need to add the protocol in front of the address (i.e. s Enter the port of the server into the port field if it is not the default port (21 for FTP, 22 for SFTP).
  • Enter your username / password in the appropriate fields.
  • Then click the Quickconnect button or press Enter/Return to connect to the server.
It’s possible you will be asked to approve the server key. If you trust the server, click OK. If you are going to access this server regularly, enable “Always trust this host…”
FileZilla Unknown Host Key
FileZilla : Unknown Host Key

3. Uploading Files

FileZilla : Web Directory

On most web servers, your web files live in a directory called “public_html”. You’ll navigate to this directory — in the right pane (the server pane) — just like you navigate with Windows Explorer or Mac Finder.

Navigate to the directory on your local drive (left pane) that contains the files you want to upload to your web server. Then drag and drop the files from left-to-right to upload. You would drag-and-drop from right-to-left to download files from the server to your local drive.

4. Saving Server Settings

Most of us don’t want to remember login details for sites that we access regularly. I recommend you save the server settings for your web host to make the process of updating your web site much easier.

Filezilla : Site Manager
  • Go to the File menu bar and select Site Manager.
  • Click “New Site” and fill-in-the-blanks.  Your web host will provide you with the needed details.
  • Click OK!

For more information on Filezilla, check out the user forums.

Credits: FTP image from Microsoft developer network article on P2P networking.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

2 replies on “How To: Using Filezilla”

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