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Getting to Grips with Filezilla

Getting to Grips with Filezilla

As discussed in a pair of related articles a few months ago (see The REAL Requirements, parts 1 & 2), some sort of knowledge about what you’re doing is required to set up an online website. The same is true for almost any activity, from driving a car to playing a game, even fixing a sandwich. If you don’t know the function of a brake pedal, the moves of a chess piece, or what a knife is for, you’re going to struggle. And yet when it comes to creating an online store, otherwise rational people hang on to their ignorance like a life preserver, and have to be dragged kicking and screaming to actually learn how to do the simplest of Internet tasks.

One of the things you need to know is how to FTP files to your website (FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol). AOM contains a huge number of files, nested in multiple layers of folders and sub-folders. Most website control panels (like cPanel, Plesk, etc.) will only let you upload a few files at a time, and no folders. It would take hours to manually set up the folder structure and upload the files correctly. Any error could result in your site not being operational. With FTP the whole process takes perhaps two minutes or less. One of the best-known FTP programs available is Filezilla, so we’ll focus on using that, although the basic concepts will also apply to many other available FTP programs.

Filezilla is available for download here. When you arrive on this page, select the Client version:

Filezilla download selection

Then on the next page you will select the version required for your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.). The file will download, and then you can unzip and run it. It will then lead you through the typical install process, as outlined here. Once Filezilla is installed on your computer, you can run it to connect to your website. Notice that on the left-hand side you’ll see the directory tree for your computer. You can navigate around here to access any directory or file on your hard drive(s). The right-hand side will be blank for now.

You will need three pieces of information to connect to your site:

  1. Hostname
  2. Username
  3. Password

This information may be available from your website. If you’re not sure, ask your webhost to help you. The Hostname is often just the website name, like mysite.com (not, http://www.mysite.com or www.mysite.com). Note that Username and Password may not be the same as the ones you use to connect to your website control panel.

Once you have this information, you can enter it in the Quick Connect bar at the top of the Filezilla screen, as shown here:

Filezilla Quick Connect bar

The Port is usually 21; many times you can leave it blank. Your host may advise you if another port is required instead. Click the Quickconnect button, and you should see Filezilla connecting to your site in the area below the quick connect bar. Once the connection has been made, you should see the directory for your website appear in the right-hand box in the center of the screen.

Filezilla main page

  1. Directory tree for your hard drive(s)
  2. Detail of a specific directory or subdirectory on your hard drive(s)
  3. Directory tree for your remote website

At this point, you should now ready to transfer the AOM files to your website. In the right-hand panel (#3 as shown in the image above), navigate to the area you want to install the AOM files into, such as a public_html folder or a subdirectory folder you’ve set up on your site. Then navigate in the left-hand boxes (#1 and #2 above) to the AOM files, and highlight them with your mouse or other method:

AOM files ready for uploading

Note that I am not transferring the parent folder (Associate-O-Matic_v5.3.0), but the contents of that folder instead.

Once you have your destination specified, and the target files and folders highlighted, simply drag and drop the AOM files from the left side to the right side. At the bottom of the screen, you should begin to see the individual files being transferred across, and in the right-hand panel, the AOM folders will pop into view. The whole process should take a minute or two. When all activity in the bottom panel ceases, the download should be complete, and the AOM files and folders should now be installed on your website.

At the top of the screen, there should be an icon with a red X on it. Click this to disconnect Filezilla from your site. If there is no activity for a few minutes, the site will often disconnect automatically.

Filezilla disconnect icon

You’ve now used Filezilla to FTP the Associate-O-Matic files to your website. You can also do this for any graphics or files you wish to make available online. And you can do the process in the other direction if you want. This is helpful for making backup copies of your cfg.saved.php file from your AOM site to your computer for safekeeping. Filezilla also has a Site Manager option (see the leftmost icon at the top of the page) to store commonly used FTP links. This is helpful if you have more than one website, perhaps using different accounts or webhosts. More information about that, or other aspects of Filezilla (including troubleshooting) can be found here.

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