How To Transfer Data Between Your Computer And Your Server: Three Data Transfer Methods
In this section, you will learn three methods for transferring data between your computer and your server:
- How to set up a Browser-based FTP client,
- 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).
Data Transfer Using FireFTP
If you use Firefox Web browser, then we recommend using the FireFTP browser add-on.
FireFTP is a free FTP program that works within the Firefox Web browser and requires Firefox to be installed on your computer.
FireFTP is an excellent browser-based FTP client that allows you to transfer files from your hard drive to your hosting server directly from your internet browser.
Here is a video tutorial on using FireFTP. Watch the video below and then go through the accompanying step-by-step tutorial to learn how to install and use FireFTP to transfer files to and from your computer and your server directly from your Internet Browser:
Setting Up A Browser-Based FTP Client
Download the FireFTP add-on for Firefox browsers here: FireFTP
FireFTP will automatically be added to the functionality of your Firefox browser.
To launch FireFTP, open your Firefox browser and select Tools > Web Developer > FireFTP …
The application window opens up inside your browser …
Your computer files are shown on the left side in FireFTP. After you connect to your server, the remote host computer folders show up on the right side of the FireFTP window. You can perform all of your file transfer operations from this screen.
If this is your first time using the application, you will need to set up an account in FireFTP to be able to log into your server and start transferring files.
Make sure you have following information available:
- Web server login and password for your domain.
- FTP address for your domain (e.g. ftp.mydomain.com)
If you don’t have the above details, you’ll need to get them from your hosting provider or your IT manager.
Click “Create an account” …
Fill in the account name, category, host address, login and password …
(1) Account Name: You can name your account anything you like, as this is for your personal reference only. We recommend using your domain name as the account name, especially if you host multiple domain names on your server.
(2) You can specify a category for your domain. This feature is useful if you manage a large number of domains and need to keep them organized.
(3) Host: Enter your host address (e.g. ftp.mydomain.com)
(4) Login: Enter your ftp username
(5) Password: Enter your ftp password
After you have entered all of your details in the “Account Manager” window, click “Ok” to create your account and save your login settings.
To connect with your server click on the “Connect” button …
If you are already connected, this button will say “Disconnect.” Click on “Disconnect” when finished transferring files over to close the connection with your server.
To upload files from your computer to your server, first make sure that you are connected to your remote host computer, then navigate through the folders in your remote host location until you find the destination folder you want your files to be uploaded into.
To drill down into your server’s folders, either select the folder on the “folder directory views” section to reveal the contents of that folder, or double click on a folder inside the “folder contents view” section …
Tip: Many servers commonly place all content files associated with your website inside a folder called “public_html” which resides at the root directory level of your server …
Locate the file(s) you want to upload. To select one or more files use either the “Shift” key (selects a group of adjacent files), or hold down the Control key and select files you want to upload by clicking on each one individually.
Click the “upload” button to begin transferring files from your computer to your server …
If your file was uploaded successfully, you will see it displayed on the right hand side.
Note: Sometimes a file will not upload if you have exceeded your server space quota on the host site. If you have repeated difficulty in uploading a file, this may be the reason.
If you need additional assistance using FireFTP, visit the FireFTP Help page.
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.
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.
If you are not hosting your site on a server that uses cPanel, we recommend that you consider doing so. For help on choosing a webhosting provider, see this tutorial.
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, but it may not always work in your particular webhosting or server environment.
Even WordPress themselves acknowledge this. As stated on the official WordPress 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