William M. Pegram
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FTP Instructions

After developing and testing your web pages on your computer, you will generally want to transfer them to a computer that is always connected to the internet and can host web pages (a server) so that they viewed by others on the internet.  The most commonly used transfer process is called FTP, which stands for file transfer protocol.  Although FTP is not secure and there are other methods that can be used to securely transfer passwords and information, we will just do FTP here because it is very commonly used.. There are at least four ways of transferring files to a server via FTP:

For repeated use, it is easiest to use an FTP client program or an HTML editor.  For one time use, it may be easier to FTP with a browser or Windows Explorer.  Command line FTP is the most awkward of the four methods and should only be used if the other methods do not work, e.g. due to the presence of a firewall  In addition to these methods, a few web sites (e.g. Geocities) have a web-based file manager/upload program; use of an FTP client or an HTML editor is much more convenient than this latter method.  

Key Parameters for Various Servers

Regardless of the FTP method you use, you will need to know several key parameters for the server with which you want to FTP. I have listed these below for several ISPs and colleges.

Category Where Site is being Hosted What to Enter in Box
Host Name/Address AOL members.aol.com
Angelfire ftp.angelfire.com
Comcast upload.comcast.net
Cox members.cox.net
Earthlink fftp-dom.earthlink.net
GMU mason.gmu.edu
NVCC Faculty/Staff www.nvcc.edu
NVCC Student www.student.nvcc.edu
Verizon as of 2011, no longer allows users to FTP
User Name AOL  anonymous
Earthlink, Comcast, Cox,GMU Mason your username, e.g. wpegram
NVCC Faculty/Staff nvcc/your lanid
NVCC Student nvstu/your lanid
Password AOL  your username@aol.com
Comcast, Cox, Earthlink, NVCC your password
Angelfire /Angelfire Directory/Angelfire Member Name
Initial Remote Host Directory (Startup) AOL, Angelfire, Comcast, NVCC Student, GMU Mason leave blank
NVCC Faculty/Staff /home/username, e.g. wpegram
Initial Local Directory All services directory where you have your files, e.g. c:\nvcc

Depending on the ISP, there may be additional issues. For example GMU Mason - You must create a directory in your account called public_html and put an index.html file in this directory. You will also need to set some permissions.

Viewing Your Files on the Internet

Once you have FTP'd your files, you can view them on the internet through your browser.  For this, you will need to know your website address. In the table below, I have shown the web address for some accounts:

Angelfire www.angelfire.com/directory/username where directory is chosen from a list of states or topics than Angelfire provides
Comcast http://home.comcast.net/~username or http://username.home.comcast.net
Cox http://members.cox.net/username
GMU Mason http://mason.gmu.edu/~username
NVCC Student www.student.nvcc.edu/home/your lanid
NVCC Faculty www.nvcc.edu/home/username

FTP Client Programs

CoreFTP is now being used at NVCC and SSH Secure Shell is being used at GMU. For further information on the latter, see SSH Secure Shell Instructions.

Common Problems

Most of your problems with FTP are likely to result from not understanding or paying close enough attention to directories/folders.

a) Suppose you are keeping all your web page files on your hard drive in a folder called nvcc. You should NOT transfer the folder nvcc via FTP to the server. You do not want the folder nvcc on the server. Instead, transfer the FILES in the NVCC folder to the server. (One of these should be the index.html file, so your home page will display without having to type in a filename). In addition to transferring the files in the folder, you can transfer the folders within the folder NVCC -- the program will ask you whether you want to transfer the associated directory structure, and you should say yes.

Make sure you understand the previous paragraph. Draw a diagram showing folders on your computer and the server if you don't.

b) When you are using FTP, work carefully. Pay attention to where you are, particularly on the server side. After transferring files, it never hurts to check on the destination side (typically the server) that your files have gone to the folder you intended.

As indicated in previous messages, you can transfer one or more folders and their contents using an FTP program. You simply click on the folder (do not open it up) and transfer the folder (the files within the folder are automatically transferred). Normally, I do this once, and once the folder is created, I only transfer files. So if I have files in the HW1 folder on my computer, I open up the folder with the FTP program on my computer, do the same on the server, and transfer whatever files I want transferred. This is what I have meant by being on the same level on both your computer and the server.

Alternatively, you can transfer a folder and its contents even though the folder already exists on the server; it simply overwrites what is there. Thus if I wanted to transfer the folder HW1 and its contents from my computer to the server, I click on HW1 on the left hand side, with the folder HW1 visible on the right hand side, and do the transfer. If you open up the HW1 folder on the right hand hand side and then try to do the transfer of the folder, it will create a HW1 directory within the existing HW1 directory on the server, which is not what you want. (Note: If you are in this situation, you can abort the transfer by saying "no" when the program will ask you whether you want to transfer the folder and its contents).

Directions for Using Windows Explorer FTP

For Windows Explorer In the location bar at the top, enter ftp://hostname. You will then be prompted for your username and password. Once you are in, you can copy and paste files from My Computer or Windows Explorer to upload files, or copy and paste file to My Computer or Windows Explorer to download files. For the mason server, use ftp://username@hostname as in the Firefox example below.

For Firefox, there is a plugin called FireFTP; for Chrome, there is an extension called FTP Free..  

Directions for using command line FTP:

1) Establish internet connection

2) Select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt

3) Type ftp and hit enter - you should get FTP prompt

4) For NVCC, type open hostname where hostname is as given in the table above.  For example, for NOVA student, type

open www.student.nvcc.edu

and hit enter.  For each, enter username and password when prompted.  For the NOVA student server, you would enter nvstu/username for the username where username is replaced by your username; for the faculty/staff server, you would enter nvcc/username.

5) Once you are in, you can see a list of available commands by typing "help".  Type help followed by the name of a command, and you get a very brief description of what it does.  Some commands you will find useful:

lcd - Changes local directory
cd - Changes remote directory
dir - Directory list of remote (I couldn't see a command for a local directory listing; one can open up Windows Explorer or a second DOS prompt for this)
put filename - transfers a single file from the local to the remote directory ("upload")
mput *.* - transfers multiple files from local to the remote (it asks you about each one and you can answer yes or no)
get filename - transfers the file from the remote directory to the local directory ("download")
mget *.* - transfers multiple files from the remote to the local (it asks you about each one and you can answer yes or no)
close or disconnect - to end the session

If you need to type in a filename that is longer than 7 or 8 characters, put the filename in quotes.  (This is the appropriate procedure at the Command Prompt; but is inappropriate within a Windows application such as WS_FTP.)

Revised: September 25, 2013. Comments to William Pegram, bill@billpegram.com