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Getting started with FTP

The process by which files are transferred to the web server is called "FTP" (File Transport Protocol). You have unlimited access via FTP 24-hours a day. As such, you can create and maintain your web pages on your own computer and upload files to your web site at your leisure.

Internet providers such as AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy may have a built-in FTP interface. If you have a PPP internet account and need an FTP program, you can download software for for either the PC or Mac below. PC users should download WinZip if you do not already have a program to extract .zip files.

For the Mac, "Fetch" is available:

Microsoft FrontPage Users
Customers with Microsoft FrontPage extensions installed on their sites should use only the FrontPage publishing feature to transfer files. Using regular FTP can corrupt the extensions, disabling the functionality of the FrontPage web and requiring that the site be deleted to reinstall the extensions.

 

Configuring Your FTP Software

The following information is contained within your account activation notice and is needed to connect to your web site via FTP:

  • USERID
  • TEMP PASSWORD
  • FTP HOSTNAME

The hostname tells your FTP software to connect to the web server upon which your web site resides. In general, the process of configuring the various FTP software programs is the same. We recommend WS_FTP for PC computer users and will be using it in the upcoming examples.

Each time you run WS_FTP the Session Profile window will be displayed. A profile contains the information needed to connect to your web site. Creating a profile now will eliminate the need for you to configure the software each time you wish to connect to the web server via FTP. To create a new profile, click the "New" button and enter a generic profile name at the top of the Session Profile window. Next, enter the userid, password and hostname for your web site as illustrated below.

Be sure to select "Auto detect" for the Host Type. It is best to select "Save Password" and "Auto Save Config" to maintain these settings for future use. All other fields can be left blank. You are now ready to connect to the web server. Click "Ok" to continue.

How to Transfer Files

When you connect to the web server, you will connect directly to the root ("home") directory of your account. WS_FTP will display a split screen where files on the left-hand side are within your own computer. You will see several folders on the right-hand side such as bin, cgi-local, dev, etc, lib, and stats which are landmarks suggesting a successful connection to your web site.

You can transfer files directly to the root level and/or create subdirectories. The only system directory that you may need to use is cgi-local (equivalent to cgi-bin on NT) which is where you should upload your own custom CGI scripts.

NT Plan: In order to access the web directories of an NT account via FTP you must change to the /www directory. Files placed in the root directory of the FTP site will not be available via the web. WS_FTP users can set the "Initial Directories: Remote Host" option in their session profile to /www to automatically enter that directory automatically.


Home Page

UNIX: Our servers will look for a "home page" in the following order: index.html, index.htm, index.shtml, index.php3

NT: Our servers will look for a "home page" in the following order: default.asp, default.htm, index.htm, index.html

Be sure to upload HTML documents and scripts in ASCII mode and images in BINARY mode. To transfer a file to a subdirectory, double-click the appropriate subdirectory to open it before transferring the desired file(s).

As soon as a file is uploaded to the web server, it is available for all to see. If, after uploading a file, you are still unable to see the updated file via Netscape, you need to clear both disk and browser cache. This function can be found by selecting Options > Network Preferences in Netscape. Remember that you must first be connected to the internet through your local internet service provider in order to connect to the web server.


Acceptable File Names

Our UNIX operating system (BSD) is case sensitive. In other words, the file name "faq.html" is NOT the same as "FAQ.html". If your HTML code references a faq.html, but the actual file name is in uppercase, this will result in a File Not Found error. This applies to directory names as well.

To prevent errors, we suggest naming all files in lowercase. Spaces and and special control characters are generally not a good idea. The underscore character ("_") is acceptable. You should avoid special characters ( ! @ # $ % ^ & * : ' ) in file names. We suggest that you keep the length of file names to a minimum. The tilde (~) cannot be used in directory or file names.


Notes to Mac Users

  • When using Fetch, select "text" to transfer HTML pages and Perl scripts, and select "raw data" to transfer images, sounds, movies, pdf files, and most other formats.
  • PageMill may add either a .bin or .txt extension to your files which must be removed in order for such files to load properly.

  • Viewing Web Pages in Netscape

    Webmasters often modify an HTML document and re-upload it to the server. After returning to their web browser they click RELOAD only to find the original document unchanged. This is a common occurrence for Netscape users and is easily remedied by clearing the browser's disk cache. This can be done in Netscape under Options > Network Preferences.


    What should I do if denied access via FTP?

    1. If you are denied access AFTER entering your userid and password, you may be using the wrong password. Check the activation notice sent to you via email when the account was first set up. If you changed your password and it doesn't seem to be working, contact support to reset your password.
    2. If you cannot connect at all, or connect and then "hang", there may be problems with connectivity.

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