How to edit your site via FTP

How to edit your site via FTP

When you download or upload files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) you are accessing your files on the HostAway web server. If you remove a file on the server it will remove it from your website, so please take care. If your website is built on a Content Management System such as WordPress then you won’t need to worry about FTP as you’re able to edit the site via an administration section in a web page. If your website is plain HTML however, you may want to occasionally make minor changes such as updating a phone number. This isn’t difficult to do, if you follow the steps below.

Firstly you need to make sure you are on a secure computer (eg. with anti-virus protection, not in an internet cafe or on a free wi-fi connection).

You then need to download an FTP program. HostAway recommends FileZilla, which you can download for free at You can also download a tutorial on how to use FileZilla from our FTP support page.

Open Filezilla and you will notice the window is vertically broken in two, with your local files on the left and the remote (or website) files on the right. The right side should be empty because you have not yet entered your login details.

You can now enter your login details at the top of the screen:

Password: contact us if you don’t know this
Port: *Leave this blank*

Press ‘Quickconnect’. You will notice a folder appears on the right side of the screen called ‘htdocs’. Double click on the folder to open it, and the folders and files that now appear are what make up your website.

IMPORTANT: Take a backup of your files before editing them. Keep these in a separate directory in case you make a mistake when editing the files. Although HostAway keeps a rolling 7 day backup of your web files it is always recommended that you take a local backup. To do this select the folder you would like to backup the files to on the left side of the screen. Then on the right side click on one of the folders or files to make it active, then type Control + A to select all files. Right click on the highlighted files and select ‘Download’.

You can edit a file live on the website (right-click the file and choose edit), however we recommend downloading the file (to a separate location than your backups), editing the file, and then uploading it. To edit your homepage you would click on the file index.html (or perhaps index.htm or default.html), and download it. You can then open this on your computer – when your computer asks what program to open this with just choose Notepad. If you are not familiar with HTML the contents of the file will look like gibberish.

Not to worry – you can search for the specific text you want to change, e.g. type Control + F to bring up the Find dialog box, then type in the text you’re looking to edit, e.g. ‘Contact Details’. This will take you to where the actual text is stored. So long as you do not change anything outside of the > < tags then you should not break any code. Obviously without knowing any HTML you will only be able to edit the text, not change images nor the appearance of the website. When you've made your changes you can upload the edited file using FileZilla (select the file you want to upload, right-click and choose 'Upload') and overwrite the one on the web server. Refresh your webpage and your changes should appear! If the website goes wonky then upload the backup file you took, to repair this. Then go back and look at the file to make sure you didn't remove any tags like
for example.

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