How to Use Filezilla to Launch a HTML Website

Okay, so now you have written a basic HTML/CSS site, and you want to launch. But, there is only one problem, you have no freaking clue how. Well luckily for you here is a tutorial titled “How to use Filezilla” that shows you how to launch a basic HTML / CSS site onto the interwebs.

There are two ways you can upload your site: FTP and SSH. FTP, or more specifically sFTP, is easier to explain so let’s start there.

Before we begin there are a few basic things you need:

  1. A website domain name
  2. A website host provider
  3. Your host provider login

Your hosting provider will be where you get these items:

  1. FTP host
  2. FTP username
  3. FTP password

All sites need a domain name and host provider. Beginners sometimes think that when you buy your domain name for $9.99 a year at a company like GoDaddy that you are done. Well…. not quite.  You need a hosting package too.

What is hosting? Hosting provides access to a computer (server) that is working 24 hours a day 365 days a year. You “host,” place, your files on this computer (server). The server allows the public to view your files through your domain name.

How does that work? Well, your domain name points to an IP address. IP addresses are like street locations for the internet. For example, milessebesta.com’s IP address is 192.123.456.789 is nearly the same thing as saying Bitwise Industries is located at 700 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93721.

It gets more and more complicated with DNS and NameServers. Blah blah blah. But I will give you the basic version. When starting out, buy the hosting package first. Why should you purchase the hosting package first? Well, 90% of hosting packages online provide a domain name for free if you host with their company. Only small local businesses don’t usually offer this package deal. Technically you can purchase your domain from a company like Godaddy.com and host at 1and1.com, but don’t do this. As a beginner, it is just more complications and headaches. If you purchase the hosting package and get a domain name with it for free, they will setup the DNS and NameServers correctly for you.

Now hosting, which hosting packages should you use?

First thing, unless you have a developer writing a fancy ASP.net application GET LINUX HOSTING. Hosting companies usually offer two types of basic hosting, Windows or Linux.

You want to choose Linux. Odds are you will eventually migrate to a CMS (Content Management System). Most, CMS systems run off PHP and MYSQL. Yes, you can run PHP and MYSQL on a Windows machine. However, most Linux servers run Apache. And blah blah blah technical stuff… boring… sleep. Linux, technically Apache, allows mod_rewrite. Mod_rewrite allows for pretty URLs on WordPress, which is good. You are lost, just trust me. Get Linux, it is cheaper and allows you to run more.

Note* if you are hosting a simple HTML site, or basic WordPress site, generally you can get away with the cheapest option. You can always upgrade 😉

Here are some of my suggested host providers:

1and1.com (I use this provider)
Hostgator.com
Rackspace.com (Really expensive but insanely wonderful support)
Godaddy.com

I bought hosting, now what?

Having been a web developer for 7+ years, I can tell you the most typical mistake client’s make. When you ask for their FTP information or SSH, they nearly always send the username and password to their host account.

Your login for your host provider is not the same information as your FTP information. The login allows you to get into a place where you create the FTP username and password!

So this is where it get’s tricky. I don’t know what host provider you decided to purchase. There are like a billion out there. But what you need to do is login and figure out how to create an FTP username and password. Most will do this automatically for you. Check the signup email they send fir this info first.

I would suggest Googling “Setting up FTP accounts at [enter host name here]”.

Most decent host providers have support documents that will walk you through this process.

In the end, you need to find, or create, three items:

  1. FTP host (which is a URL or IP address)
  2. FTP username
  3. FTP password

Once you have these items, we can connect to your site.

Finally the real question “How to use Filezilla to launch your website”.

You have your FTP information now we need to connect. To connect we need to download an FTP client. There are lots of different ones out there, some cost money, and some are free. I prefer the free ones. Specifically, I prefer FileZilla, it is open source and stable. The only downside is that it seems like there is always a freaking update.

So to upload your site, there are four steps: Install, Connect, Upload, Check

How to use Filezilla, Step 1: Install FileZilla

How do you install FileZilla?

  1. Go to https://filezilla-project.org/
  2. Click on the button “Download FileZilla Client”
  3. Download and Install
  4. Open up FileZilla

How to use Filezilla, Step 2: Connect via FTP

Now that you have Filezilla open you should see a screen like the one below.

There are two ways to connect: “quick connect” or using the site manager.

Connecting through “Quick Connect”

On the top bar, you should see “Host:,” “Username:,” and “Password.” Place in your FTP information. Don’t worry about port. Add in your Host, Username and Password previously provided by your hosting company. Click the big “Quickconnect” button.

If you are lucky, you will see a bunch of magic happen in the box directly below “Quickconnect” and files appear on the right-hand side where it says “Remote Site.”

Connecting through “Site manager”

The button on the top left allows you to store hundreds of FTP accounts. If you are managing multiple websites, you would want to configure the FTP information using “Site Manager.” Why? “Quick connect” only saves the login credentials for the last 10 FTP accounts you have connected via FileZilla.

Common errors and their meaning

If you see this:

Filezilla Login Error

Then you have the wrong password 🙁

If it is stuck on “Connecting to” then you see this:

Filezilla Connection Error

Your internet is either bad. OR the website is behind a firewall, and the connection is being blocked (this won’t happen with a standard host package). Generally, firewalls issues like this occur with a more advanced host provider.

For a majority of the errors you just need to make sure you entered the information correctly. I would recommend typing in the credentials. NOT copy and paste? Why? Well sometimes when you copy, you accidently grab an empty space before or after an item. FileZilla sees this space and thinks it is a part of the password, username, or host entry. This will cause your site to error.

How to Use FileZilla, Step 3: Upload Your Files

We are almost done! Now we just need to upload your site’s files.

If everything connects, you should see something like the image below. Notice that files loaded under the “remote server” side. You should see “folder” icons. You want to find one that says public_html, or www, or something that sounds website-ish. Double-click on the file to open it.

how to use filezilla

Now find your web files on your desktop. Drag and Drop the files into the website-ish sounding folder. Once this happens, you should see a “Que” pop-up in the bottom of the screen.

Once everything is loaded there should be nothing left in the “Que”.

Final Step Test!

The final step is simple, just load your website page. If it works yay, if not, sorry?