How to: Use An FTP/FTPS Client

FTP Client Tutorial

Introduction

The scope of this tutorial will be limited to basic usage of the FileZilla FTP client. If you’ve used another FTP client previously, you’ll find that most aspects of this software will behave similarly.

FileZilla was selected for this tutorial for its ease of use, popularity, and cross-platform compatibility. For additional information on how the FTP and FTPS protocols operate, please see our companion article here: Introduction to FTP and FTPS.

Step 1Download and Install the Client

First, you’ll need to download the correct client software for the Operating System you’ll be installing FileZilla onto. All available options can be found at the following link:

FileZilla client download

Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate installation software at the link above, run the application and install it with your personal preferences, or if you’re unsure how to proceed, you can follow the official installation instructions here:

FileZilla client installation instructions

Step 2Configure the Client

Network Configuration Wizard

After installing the FileZilla client software and opening the application, the first step you’ll want to complete is the Network Configuration Wizard. It can be found under the Edit option on the toolbar.

By completing this step, you will be able to verify whether or not your client can connect to remote FTP servers. Simply follow the steps in the configuration wizard and update any configuration options as necessary. Depending on the options you select, you may need to make some additional adjustments to your local firewall/router configuration to be able to connect successfully.

Settings

Under the Edit toolbar option, the Settings configuration menu is where you can update and customize the various options available to you. The default settings that are enabled will work for most users, but you can make adjustments as you see fit.

Step 3Establish a Connection

After you’ve confirmed you’re able to connect to remote FTP servers using the Network Configuration Wizard, you should then be able to connect to any FTP server with valid login credentials (assuming the remote FTP server is not misconfigured). However, you’ll first need to gather the following information:

Host: This can be an IP address (e.g. 192.168.1.250) or a DNS record that points to an IP address in which the remote FTP server is listening on (e.g. ftp.mydomain.com).

Port: This will likely be the default (21) unless the host has chosen to configure the FTP server to listen on an alternative port.

Username: The username of the FTP account you have been assigned or have created on the remote FTP server.

Password: The password associated with the FTP username.

Once you’ve gathered all of the above information, you will want to input this information into the FileZilla client’s Quickconnect toolbar or the Site Manager feature described in the next section of this tutorial. Then to initiate the connection, you’ll either need to click the Quickconnect button or the Connect button on the respective site you configured in the Site Manager.

Site Manager

The Site Manager feature is useful to anyone with multiple FTP accounts. Its primary benefit being that you can save login credentials for each account that you have. Additionally, you can configure each website according to your preferred settings for each one.

Its menu can be opened three different ways: by selecting the feature under the File toolbar option followed by Site Manager, by selecting the icon in the toolbar that toggles this feature, or by pressing the hotkey CTRL+S on your keyboard when the FileZilla client is actively selected.

Status Messages

When you initiate a connection, the status messages throughout the entire duration of the connection are printed to a section of the FileZilla client. This section can be found directly below the Quickconnect toolbar and shows the output of all success and error messages. If you encounter any trouble, this section should be checked for errors.

Using the Client

Upon successfully connecting, you can perform several tasks within the FileZilla client. We’ll briefly go over the core tasks that you’ll now be able to perform below.

Filesystem Navigation

FileZilla separates local and remote filesystems into two size adjustable window panes. The local file system being referenced as Local Site and the remote filesystem being referenced as Remote Site.

Navigation through the filesystem can be performed by selecting the folder(s) you wish to access or by inputting the path into the text input field next to Local Site: and Remote Site:. Question marks on folders on the remote filesystem indicate that you have not opened that folder previously.

Downloading and Uploading Files

The method you choose to upload or download is up to your personal preference, but both can be completed three different ways. You can download/upload by right-clicking the file(s) and selecting download/upload, by double-clicking the file(s) in the remote site navigation window (for downloads) or the local site navigation window (for uploads), or by manually selecting the file(s) in the remote site navigation window and dragging it to your local Desktop (for downloads) and likewise in the local site navigation window to the remote site navigation window for uploads.

Transfer Queue

At the bottom of the FileZilla client software, you’ll find the file transfer queue. The queue displays information on what files are currently being transferred to/from the FTP server along with a progress bar and file size for each one.

Cancel any transaction in the queue by selecting the file(s)/folder(s) being transferred, and then either right-click and select cancel, press the DEL/DELETE key on your keyboard with the file(s)/folder(s) selected, or click the cancel flag icon above the Quickconnect toolbar with the file(s)/folder(s) selected.

Creating Files and Folders

Creating a file or folder can be completed by simply right-clicking and selecting Create File/Create Folder in the remote site navigation window inside the directory you wish to create the file.

Deleting Files and Folders

Deleting a file(s)/folder(s) can be completed in one of two ways: by selecting the appropriate file(s)/folder(s) and right-clicking it, and then selecting delete from the menu options, or by selecting the file(s)/folder(s) and pressing the DEL/DELETE key on your keyboard.

Updating Permissions

Adjusting permissions on a folder or file is as simple as right-clicking and selecting File permissions on the one(s) you wish to update. Then just tick the boxes next to the group(s) and privilege(s) you wish to give to the file/folder. The privileges being either read, write, or execute access. Alternatively, you can input the numerical permission code instead of selecting each group permission. Be careful not to give too much access away when using this feature though (e.g. write permissions for everyone).

Troubleshooting Issues

Debug Mode

Should you encounter problems or otherwise inexplicable issues with the FileZilla client, you can enable the built-in debug mode from the Settings menu. Enabling debug mode will provide you with additional information on the cause of trouble in the status section and logs. Debug mode has five settings, in which the default (0) is not to log any information. The remaining four options are Warning (1), Info (2), Verbose (3), and Debug (4). The higher the number, the more detailed the information you will be provided in your client and log files.

Logs

Another built-in option that provides further assistance with troubleshooting is the logging feature. To enable this feature, select Edit from the toolbar, then select Settings followed by the Logging submenu under the File Editing section. Once you’ve selected the Logging option, you will then be presented with a few options to choose. One being the addition of timestamps to any log files that are written, another being the ability to specify the location of the log files, and lastly the ability to limit the file size of log files before a new one is created. Should you decide to enable logging, you will have to restart the application for the changes to take effect.

Conclusion

While this tutorial does not cover every aspect of the FileZilla FTP client, you should now have a basic understanding of its capabilities and how to use the software. If you have any questions or feedback, please comment below.

Written by
on November 9, 2015

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