Two Simple Steps to Learn FTP for WordPress!

One of the more daunting things I had to do early on in learning WordPress was figuring out how to use FTP for WordPress file editing. Looking back at it from the perspective of “I’ve done this a million times now” it seems simple. That wasn’t the case starting out though!

Many otherwise great tutorials for WordPress, my own (hopefully sort of great at least) articles included, tend to trivialize performing this necessary step. I realize that must be a pain in the rear for a good many people. So, here’s an article to rectify that. Let’s look at how to use FTP for WordPress file editing!

What is FTP, Anyway?

FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol. An FTP client is a program that transfers files between two computers following a protocol, or set of rules, for their successful transfer. In your case, the two computers you’re transferring files between are the computer you’re working from and your host’s server.

Your WordPress installation lives on your host’s server, so it’s necessary to use FTP as a tool to move files back and forth from your computer to theirs. You can either upload a file from your computer to theirs, or download from their computer to yours.

Oftentimes editing a file in your WordPress installation requires you to download that file from the host’s server to your computer, make the desired edits, and then upload the edited file back to the host’s server again.

What are my FTP Client Options?

There are a number of them, both free and paid: CyberDuck, FileZilla, WS_FTP, Cute FTP. We could go down that road for a while. CyberDuck and FileZilla are the most popular of the lot, and both get the job done just fine.

I’ve more recently begun using Cyberduck and am quite fond of it. It has a very user friendly UI and is straightforward and simple to use. FileZilla had been my go to for years, but I’m hesitant to recommend them now because if you’re not careful with your clicks during the install process, you’re going to wind up with your browser homepage hijacked by Yahoo. It does do its job well, however.

So How Do I Use FTP for WordPress?

We’ll walk through this with CyberDuck. It is super easy!

Step 1: Download and install CyberDuck. When it finishes and you open it up, you’re presented with a very minimalistic and user friendly interface:

CyberDuck main interface, FTP for WordPress

Step 2: Now we need to connect to your server. Click Open Connection in the upper left to open the connection panel. It has fields for Server (the server’s URL that CyberDuck can use to connect), and your FTP username and password. This information is usually in your server’s Control Panel. If you can’t find it you’ll need to contact your host and ask them for it.

Cyberduck connection interface, FTP for WordPress

Enter that information, leave everything else as it is, and click Connect. There may be another prompt or two from here depending on server settings and the like, but you should now be connected to your server and able to see & manipulate the files! Click on the bookmark icon and save your server info so that you don’t have to remember it next time!

CyberDuck server interface, FTP for WordPress

Just right click on any file to edit or download it. Right click on any folder to upload a file to that folder. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

Peeking NinjaNow you know how to upload, download, and edit WordPress files via FTP! Once you walk through the process a few times and get used to it, it gets even easier. After a while it will be like second nature. FTP access to your WordPress install has 101 niche uses besides file editing, as well. Just wait until you inevitably break something and need to recover from a white screen of doom by FTPing in and removing/replacing a WordPress-breaking file. It happens to the best of us! Have fun with your new skill and happy blogging!

Learning to access your WordPress install via FTP can seem intimidating. It's really not; come see!Click To Tweet