Uploading Your Website with FTP.
Once you've created your website, you're going to need to upload it to your web server. The easiest and fastest way of doing this is using FTP.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It's a standard for transferring files quickly and easily between computers, intended to allow computers with different operating systems to exchange files without users needing to worry about the different file systems they use. Compared to HTTP, transfers over FTP are very reliable, meaning that your upload will not just fail without telling you, and you can pause and resume any upload you start.
To connect to an FTP server, you need three things: the FTP server's address, a username, and a password. Your web host should have provided these to you when you opened your account, or you may also be able to create one yourself using your website's cPanel. Check your host's help for more information.
Before you can use FTP, you need an FTP program. Luckily, you have quite a few choices.
What, Internet Explorer? Yes, IE actually has an FTP program built in. Just go to your host's FTP server using a URL with ftp:// instead of http://, like this: ftp://ftp.example.com. You will be asked to enter your username and password, and then you'll be presented with a view of the files and folders on the FTP server, just like if they were on your own computer! To upload files, all you need to do is drag them from wherever they are now into this window.
So what's the problem? Why not just use IE for all your FTP uploading needs? Well, unfortunately, the answer is that it isn't very reliable as an FTP program: it works, but it's very slow, and won't automatically try things again if it runs into errors. It also lacks a good way of telling you how far along your uploads are or giving you much control over them – fine for uploading one or two files, but not so great when it comes to uploading a whole website.
CuteFTP (www.cuteftp.com), by GlobalScape, was one of the first useful graphical FTP programs for Windows, and is still popular. It supports resuming, scheduling transfers in advance and multiple transfers at once, and also has the useful feature of allowing you to quickly edit files on the server using a built-in text editor. It costs $40, or you can get a Pro version with more features for $60.
WS FTP (www.wsftp.com) is another old, established FTP program, but recently became a lot easier to use than it used to be. Some useful features include its various wizards and tutorials for doing common things, editing files on the server using any software you like (a rare feature) and sorting options that let you find files quickly. It also has special features to help you out with blogging and digital photography. Cost: $60.
BulletproofFTP (www.bpftp.com) is an FTP client that does a lot of things automatically – it's clever when it comes to handling common situations in a good way, where other FTP programs can often do things you wouldn't want or constantly ask you to confirm things. However, the interface is looking a little dated now, and it costs $30.
SmartFTP (www.smartftp.com) is my personal favourite FTP program. Why? Well, it has a modern, easy-to-use interface. It's updated often, and has almost all the features of the programs above, as well as very good support for queuing, proxies, backups, and some obscure things like chmod that you might need to do from time to time. Best of all, although it costs $37 for business use, it's free for non-commercial or personal users.
Finally, if you want a completely free and open-source FTP program, FileZilla (filezilla.sourceforge.net) is worth a look. While the interface is simple and a little technical, it does most things you would want it to do, and is surprisingly fast and stable. If you want an easy to use program that doesn't hide anything for you, then you could do worse than FileZilla – and hey, if you want it free, you don't have that many choi