Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Configuring Filezilla to Access SFTP Servers

ileZilla is an open source FTP/SFTP client that lets you drag and drop files between your local machine and your server. I'm going to write the instructions for setting it up. (There is also a Filezilla FTP/SFTP server, but I'm just talking about the client). A quick note for CSS people: I made the dropcap that started this paragraph by floating the red FileZilla bitmap to the left, and then giving it a right margin of 10 and top margin of 4 pixels.

If you are not familiar with FTP/SFTP, these are just protocols for transferring files. The protocols are described in RFC 959 and this Internet draft. A protocol is just a set of rules for how to exchange messages and data between computers.

On a typical Linux server there will be a SSH deamon process that handles incoming SSH and SFTP requests. A deamon process is a Unix/Linux program that's always running. So, Filezilla running on your local machine talks to the deamon process/program running on your server to accomplish the file transfer.

Nowadays everyone uses SFTP, not the plain old FTP. That's because FTP sends your username and password in plain text, as well as the file itself, so that anyone sniffing IP packets can read them. With SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), all of that is encrypted.

Before you can start transferring files, you need to tell FileZilla how to access your server. That includes providing the hostname, port number, and authentication credentials. Optionally you might want to set the starting directory on the server to a path where you do a lot of uploads and downloads.


Bring up FileZilla. If you don't have it, you can download it from here. Under File>Site Manager, Press "New Site" button, give it a name in the top left panel of the user interface. This name will be available to you later through the "Open Site Manager" pull down underneath the File menu (not in the File menu, look for the upside down arrow under it) in the main window. Next up is your host name which is typically your domain name. In my case, it's a subdomain because my domain is mapped to Blogger.

Host name: blog.cssbakery.com

Port: 22
Standard Port is 22 for SFTP - My port number is different but for you it will be 22 or some other number if your SSH server is set up on an another port number like mine.

For "Protocol", Choose SFTP - I don't think anybody's using FTP these days.

Logon Type will be Normal.

User: This will be your account name on your server.
And finally, your password.

You don't need to enter anything for the Account field.

Switch over to the Advanced tab to give it a starting directory
Default remote directory: /home/web/public_html/cssbakery.com/public/.... is what my path looks like for this blog.

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