File Transfer Protocol, or FTP for short, is the easiest and most efficient way to transfer files between computers and servers on the internet. FTP allows you to quickly and easily upload, download, and edit files between your desktop computer and your website’s server.
With FTP you can:
- Install WordPress and modify files.
- Install entire themes and plugins.
- Modify theme and plugin files, like your theme’s functions.php and CSS stylesheet.
- Recover from "white screen of death" errors caused by poorly coded themes and plugins that lock you out of your site.
- Bulk upload images and files.
- and much more!
You can use the File Manager provided by your web host within your hosting control panel to transfer files, but it is cumbersome and comes with a lot of limitations that FTP does not.
Advantages of FTP:
- You can instantly view all files on your server AND your local hard drive at the same time.
- You can upload multiple files or images, or an entire folder, at one time.
- You can upload very large files (>4GB) with no problems.
- You can use an editor like Notepad to edit a file "live" while you’re still connected to your server.
To use FTP, you will need to install a piece of software called an FTP client onto your computer. There are many free and low-cost FTP programs available, but we use and recommend FileZilla. It is fast, easy-to-use, well-maintained, and allows for secure file transfers via SFTP. There are versions available for PC, Mac, and Linux users, all released under the GPL, so they will always be free to use.
SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol using the Secure Shell protocol (SSH). It encrypts ALL of your interactions with your website’s server. That includes your passwords, usernames, and data.
Unfortunately, standard FTP is not secure. It does NOT encrypt any data transmissions whatsoever. Everything transmitted via FTP will be in clear text and viewable by anyone who wants to look at it.
Therefore, all interactions with your website’s server should always be carried out using secure connections.