Section 1: What is FTP?

1.1 What does FTP stand for?
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.

1.2 What do I use FTP for?
FTP is used to transfer files from one computer to another across the Internet. In most cases, it is used to upload files from a personal computer to a server — a process also known as publishing a Website — or vice versa.

Section 2: What does ... mean?

2.1 What is an FTP client?
An FTP client is a software program that uses FTP to upload and download files to and from the Internet. CoffeeCup Direct FTP is one example. Some Web design programs (including the full suite of CoffeeCup software) may come with a built-in FTP client.

2.2 What is a server profile?
Your FTP client needs certain information to connect and upload files to your server. This information is stored in a server profile, and includes your host/server name, FTP username and password, and any remote folder where you may need to store your files.

2.3 What is Passive mode?
The answer is a bit technical, but basically Passive mode is a method of uploading that allows your computer to initiate a data transfer. (Normally, this is the server's job.) For a more detailed explanation, check out these articles:
What does passive mode mean?
Active FTP vs. Passive FTP: A definitive explanation

2.4 What is ASCII mode?
ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, and it is a kind of transfer mode used by an FTP client to upload or download files. ASCII mode should be used to transfer text-based documents (e.g. .htm, .html, .txt, .php, etc.).

2.5 What is binary mode?
Binary mode is the other kind of transfer mode used by FTP clients. It is used to upload any file that isn't text-based, such as images, music, and .exe files, to name a few.

2.6 What does uploading mean?
Uploading is the transferring of files from your computer to a remote computer, usually a server.

2.7 What does downloading mean?
Downloading is the transferring of files from a remote computer like a server to your local computer.

2.8 What is a Web host?
A Web host is a company that stores Websites on their servers for public access. The best Web hosts provide fast and friendly support, access to your server logs, and a cgi-bin.

2.9 What is a directory?
A directory is a structure for organizing files on a computer. When you're working with FTP, the term directory usually references a server. A server directory is the same thing as a server folder.

2.10 What is a root directory?
The root is the very start of a directory. On your personal computer, the root is C:. On a server, it is usually designated with a /.

2.11 What is a directory path?
A directory path is the sequence of directories that leads to file. /public_html/images is an example of a directory path. Essentially, this translates to, "The file is located in the images folder, which is located in the public_html folder." In a URL, the directory path is everything that appears after the domain.

Section 3: What do I need to use FTP?

There are several things you need in order to use FTP: an FTP client, a Web host, and files to be transferred.

3.1 Where can I find an FTP program?
Well, for starters, there's CoffeeCup Direct FTP. The program is powerful, easy to use, and has a fully functional 25-day trial period that allows you to try the program out before deciding to buy it. You may also be interested in CoffeeCup Free FTP, which is a free, stripped-down version of Direct FTP. Other FTP clients can be found at

3.2 Do I have to have a host?
If you want a Website, yes. There are two types of hosting companies: those that are free, and those that charge a monthly or yearly fee. Tripod is an example of a free host, whereas LunarPages, 1&1, and GoDaddy charge a fee.

So why doesn't everyone choose the free options? Well, free sites present some serious limitations. You probably won't be able to store much information, run CGI scripts, or choose a domain name, and you may have to deal with annoying banners and pop-up ads on your site. Paid hosting offers much more freedom, looks professional, and gives you flexibility and capabilities far beyond what any free hosting could offer.

3.3 Where can I find a host?
The best way to find a hosting provider is by doing a plain old Google search. There are a few things you should keep in mind when deciding which provider to use: How much space will you need? How important is prompt, courteous customer support? How much do the hosting packages cost?

If you need a good jumping-off point, check out the hosting providers listed above. Just keep in mind that with a little research, you will be able to find a hosting provider that meets your unique needs.

3.4 Where do I find my FTP information?
Your FTP information is the information that makes up your server profile: your host/server name, FTP username and password, and any remote folder where you may need to upload your files. This information is provided by your Web host.

3.5 Now that I have my FTP information, how do I use it?
The answer depends on which FTP client you're using. If you are using CoffeeCup Direct FTP, check out this article: Connecting to Your Server. If you are using another FTP client, consult its documentation for further instructions.

Section 4: What happens after I connect to the server?

Once you have connected, you can upload files to your server or download them to your computer.

4.1 I received an error or can't connect.
There are two types of errors that you may receive when connecting to a remote computer: WINSOCK and return codes. For a list of common WINSOCK errors, visit this link. For a list of return codes with explanations, read this article: FTP Return and Error Codes.

4.2 Uploading your files to your server.
Direct FTP offers several different ways to upload your files to your server. First, select the file(s) you wish to upload. Next, either click the Upload button in the Toolbar, navigate to Actions > Upload to Server, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+U. You can also simply drag and drop the file into the Remote pane on the right-hand side of the program.

The process may differ in other FTP clients. For further information, consult the documentation for the program you are using.

4.3 What directory do I upload my files to?
This varies depending on which hosting provider you are using. Common directory names are public_html, www, htmldocs, and wwwroot. If you are not sure which folder you are supposed to upload to, contact your hosting provider.

4.4 How soon will my Webpage show up after I upload the files?
This may vary depending on which hosting provider you are using, but in most cases, the change is immediate.

4.5 What do folders with two periods in place of their names do?
These folders are used to navigate one folder up in the directory. For instance, if you are currently in the directory /public_html/images/vacation and you double-click the folder icon with two periods, you will be taken to the directory /public_html/images.

4.6 How do I change directories on the server?
This is another feature that varies depending on which FTP client you are using. In Direct FTP, you have a couple of options. To move to the next folder up in the directory, double-click the folder icon with two dots at the top of the Remote pane, or navigate to Actions > Up One Folder. To move to a specific folder, navigate to Actions > Go to Folder (Remote) and in the window that appears, enter the name of the folder where you would like to go.

If you are using another FTP client, consult its documentation for further instructions.

4.7 What do I name my first/main page?
Name the first page in your Website (also called a homepage) index.html. Occasionally, some Web hosts will require that you name your homepage something else, but the vast majority of the time, the proper name is index.html. Moreover, servers tend to be a bit picky when it comes to case, so it's a good idea to always use lowercase filenames.

4.8 Why are my images not showing up after I upload them?
If your images have all been replaced with boxes containing red X's, consult this tutorial. It explains the possible reasons for the red X's, as well as possible solutions.

4.9 Where do I upload my CGI files to?
If your Web host allows you to upload CGI files, you will usually have to upload them to a separate file known as the cgi-bin. However, it's best to consult your hosting provider to make sure you are storing these files in the right place.

4.10 I just uploaded a CGI file. How do I change the permissions?
This is yet another feature that varies depending on which FTP client you use. In Direct FTP, right-click the file on your server whose permissions you would like to change, and then select Change Permissions. This opens the Permissions window, which allows you to adjust the permissions visually or by using a numeric code.

If you are using another FTP client, consult its documentation for further instructions.