You’ve learnt all you can about web hosts and finally chosen the one you think fits your needs perfectly. You have even set the DNS for the website. But wait before you heave a sigh of relief. There is something else that needs to be taken care of.
You are now faced with the task of uploading your website to the web host. Uploading means moving files from your hard drive or any local environment to the web server.
I can tell you from experience (initial days) that unless you know how to go about it, a lot of time can be wasted.
Although, there are several ways of uploading web pages to a host, the most common is by using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software. But before uploading, once the web page creation is over, they need to be saved as .html or .htm.
Some web hosts now provide a control panel where these web pages can be uploaded. If this is not available, then an FTP program needs to be used or an HTML editor to upload files. Whatever you decide to use, it is required to check if the hosting company supports the method. Most of the free web hosts do not provide these options.
FileZilla or WS_FTP are the free FTP clients that allow you to save your web pages to your web host or the remote server.
Download the FTP client of your choice, install it and create an FTP account. After opening the FTP program, the FTP host address needs to be typed, which is usually “yourdomain.com” or sometimes “ftp.yourdomain.com.” You can check out both to see what works. Sometimes only one may work and at others, both. Next, you will have to enter the username and password that you used when you created an FTP account with your host, and finally click on the connect button to establish a connection with the web host.
In the FTP client, you will find a section for the local site with folders at the top and files at the bottom. The other section is for the remote host or the web host.
Web host help can be sought to find out where the files are to be uploaded. They usually go into the root directory, into a folder called “www” or “public_html.” All the website files need to go into this particular folder, so that they can be accessed by the public. Files can be transferred individually or as complete directories.
While all other web pages can be given any name, the main page in all directories on the site should be index.htm/.html/.php. This is the page that is displayed by default.
Files are moved with FTP in both binary and ASCII modes, and the FTP software may determine the method to use. But at times, this may need to be specified manually. The rule of the thumb is that all files that are opened with a text editor should be transferred as ASCII. Graphics, media files and compiled programs are transferred in the binary mode.
We have discussed FTP at length here as it is the most popular method of transferring files from the local area to a remote host (web host.) There are other methods that can be used. You will find that many website creation programs come with built-in transfer mode. One of the most common is the Microsoft FrontPage. But before using it, make sure your web host supports it. FrontPage takes care of uploads to the web host without any manual intervention.
There are also online site-builders that not only help create web pages, but also store them in the appropriate locations on the server. These site builders are found on the control panel in the hosting account.