How to FTP – and Make Your Website Public

You’ve finished building your website in one of the popular software programs and now you’re ready to take your website public. You may have a domain name ( or you may not. The question is, what do you do next? How do you take the website on your computer and allow the whole world to see it?  The answer: by using FTP to put your files on a web server.

FTP Background Information

Let me back up a few steps. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a method of copying files from your computer to a web server (sort of like when you burn information onto a CD or DVD). A web server is a computer that is connected to the internet and setup to accept files and route domain names.

When users copy files to their web server, they are putting them out for others to see them. In our case, we are using GoDaddy as our web host or web server. When we copy files to their server into a specific location then when users type in, they are taken to the GoDaddy web servers and our web pages are displayed.

How do I find a web host?

There are thousands and thousands of web hosting providers. You’ll be surprised it is how many there are when you start looking for them. Some companies have their own web servers for their corporate web sites and some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give their customers free web space.

There are also free web hosting companies that will allow you to make your website public for now fee. However, they do usually require an ad or banner ad displayed on your website in exchange.

How do I use FTP?

Once you’ve selected your web host, you’re almost ready to FTP your files to the web. First you’ll need an FTP program. Thankfully there are a number of good free FTP programs, so this won’t cost you any money. We recommend downloading SmartFTP (for PC users) or Fetch (for Mac users). (Coincidentally, the word download means to copy a file from internet to your computer. The word upload means to copy a file from your computer to the internet).

While you’re downloading and installing one of those programs, make sure you have your ftp address, username and password handy for your web host because you’ll need that next.

After you have launched your FTP program, you should be asked for or have a place to enter your web hosting information. Once you’re connected to your web server then you should have two windows (one showing your computer and one showing the web server). By dragging files from your computer to the web server you are copying them to the internet.

Tips for FTP Success

Make sure you copy your files them to the WWW or PUBLIC_HTML folder on your web server or they may not be visible. Here are a few other tips for uploading your website:

  • Use lowercase file names with no spaces
  • Index.htm or index.html or index.php is usually the name of your home page (check to make sure)
  • If you have a domain name registered, make sure and work correctly (with and without the www.)
  • Consider adding Google Analytics or another visitor tracking tool that will allow you to monitor how many visitors you have to your website and gain valuable information about how they found your website.
  • Look for and contact websites that might be willing to link to you.

Congratulations, you’ve just uploaded your first website!

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Johnny Flash Productions

Johnny Flash Productions is a creative agency based outside of Washington D.C. that focuses on digital strategy, web design and development, graphic design and event production that helps businesses get better results from their marketing.