How to FTP – and Make Your Website Public

how to ftp a website

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!

  • dave
    Posted at 07:36h, 31 March Reply

    Hi there.

    I’ve been trying to fix a problem and it’s driving me a bit crazy. I have created a website using iWeb and have exported the sites files to my computer so they are ready to put onto the FTP server for my company’s website.

    When I first logged into the FTP thing there were no files on the server except a ‘logs’ directory. I created a public_html directory and then copied my site into that appropriately. I also copied an index.html file that is ‘seperate’ from the website when iWeb exports the website and put that one in the root directory (i.e. alongside public_html).

    Now, the issue is all the files are there but they do not show up when you enter the web address in a browser. I was thinking this may be something to do with me just ‘making’ the public_html folder, but surely that’s the only way?

    Sorry to be vague and confusing but I’d really appreciate help as I’ve spent ages searching the internet for an explanation and am starting to give up hope!!!

    Thanks, Dave.

    • johnnyflash
      Posted at 07:56h, 31 March Reply

      Hey Dave, have you tried going to and seeing if your files are located there? I think since you had to create the public_html directory, you probably don’t need it. Try moving the files to the root or looking in the sub-directory public_html and see if you can access your files there. If you send me a link to your domain I would be glad to help you further.

  • dave
    Posted at 08:15h, 31 March Reply

    Hi, thanks for the quick response. I tried navigating to the public_html directory in my browser but that yields the same 404. I have now moved everything to the root (and deleted the additional index.html for now (there is still a home.html (with the html code in for the actual site) and an index.html file). But alas even with all in root still yields 404.


    btw this isn’t a reply to your reply as that doesn’t seem to work when I press ‘post comment’ (just FYI (safari 5))

  • priyank
    Posted at 04:16h, 27 April Reply

    This is really helpful. I didn’t even know that main page is supposed to be named index.whatever!! I am such a rookie, thanx for help buddy!!!

  • hitesh babariya
    Posted at 05:57h, 09 May Reply

    Hi, thanks for the quick response. I tried navigating to the public_html directory in my browser but that yields the same 404. I have now moved everything to the root (and deleted the additional index.html for now (there is still a home.html (with the html code in for the actual site) and an index.html file). But alas even with all in root still yields 404.

  • Mike
    Posted at 06:36h, 28 July Reply


    I’m very new to making websites and I’ve encountered a problem I’ve not yet found a solution to. I’ve uploaded my index page and an image onto my ftp space via filezilla. The index page simply has text relating to where the image is stored and this info is correct.

    The problem is: when I test the page online a box comes up saying “The ftp. (web address):21 requires a username and password”, there is also spaces in the box to input username and password.
    I personally have the username and password, but any users visiting the site won’t have. What should I do to allow open access to view images on my website?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • johnnyflash
      Posted at 07:01h, 28 July Reply

      Hey Mike, this could be because you have your root directory password protected. Do you have a control panel with your web host that let’s you choose the settings? Many hosts use cpanel or an equivalent for their control panel. It’s difficult to diagnose the issue without your URL and or hosting company. You might try contacting your web hosting company for help troubleshooting your problem. Hope that helps. -flash

  • Mike
    Posted at 08:08h, 29 July Reply

    Hi Flash

    Thanks for your reply.
    You’ve given me some things to investigate, certainly.
    I should have provided you a URL before, sorry.
    I was given the webspace as a favour from a friend and so have never had direct contact with the hosting company nor have I got a host control panel.
    He gave my the ftp address and username/password.
    Having run a trace search from my URL it says the host is
    Should I try contacting them anyway or ask my friend what to do?

    Once again, thank you.


  • olivia
    Posted at 05:39h, 08 October Reply

    can any one tell me that how can i create my own private/public website

  • und losverdienen
    Posted at 03:18h, 31 March Reply

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    • johnnyflash
      Posted at 03:30h, 03 April Reply

      Hey, thanks for posting. I’m not quite sure what you are referring to when you say “your submit that you simply made some days in the past” – please clarify.

  • panama expats
    Posted at 22:44h, 02 May Reply

    Informative Post

  • sam
    Posted at 11:37h, 22 July Reply

    Hi there
    i have uploaded my index.html file on ftp server but when i type my URL i get a blank page, there is no public_html folder or www folder, i might have accidentally deleted, is there a way for me to make those folders again or what should i do. plz help.

    • johnnyflash
      Posted at 08:53h, 05 August Reply

      Sam, you might try contacting your web hosting provider and ask them where your html files should go on the server. Also, make sure you domain name settings are correct for your web hosting company and pointing to your space there.

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