Using Internet Explorer as a free FTP client

If you're looking for a free FTP client, you might be surprised to learn you've already got one: Internet Explorer can be used to upload files to your website using file transfer protocol (FTP). It's particularly useful that it's installed on most computers, so if your site needs updating at short notice, you can edit it without any additional software on the nearest PC.

You will need:

  • Your upload server address - ask your webhost if you don't know this. It might look something like ftp.yourhost.co.uk or homepages.yourhost.co.uk.
  • Your FTP user ID
  • Your FTP password

These are the details you've been provided with for uploading content to your webspace. The user ID might be called a username and the server address might be described as the FTP address for your hosting space. They will most likely not be the same as the username and password you use to access your email.

Here's how to use them.

Method one: slower, but more secure

This method is slower than the alternative below, but it does not expose your password to anyone else looking at the screen. Use this method if you're in a public place.

  • In Internet Explorer's address bar, enter ftp:// followed by your upload server address. For example: ftp://ftp.yourhost.co.uk or ftp://homepages.yourhost.co.uk.
  • You'll see a dialogue box pop up asking for your username and password. Enter them.

Method two: faster, but less secure

This method is a lot less hassle, but your password will be visible on screen, so I can't recommend this for use in public.

  • In Internet Explorer's address bar, enter ftp:// followed by your username, a colon, your password, an at sign and your upload server address. So if your server address is homepages.yourhost.co.uk, it will look this: ftp://username:password@homepages.yourhost.co.uk

Moving files around

Once you've logged in using one of the two methods above, the IE window will look like a folder on your desktop. Now you can drag files into it from your desktop and they will be uploaded to your server. Download files from your FTP space by dragging them from the IE window to your desktop. Right-click in the IE window to open the menu for creating folders on your server

Limitations

Internet Explorer is ideal for making quick fixes (especially if you need to quickly update your website while on the move), but it's not really a complete FTP solution. There's no feedback, so it's not uncommon for the software to apparently hang while it's uploading large amounts of data. It also seems to be much slower than dedicated FTP clients.

If it's not working for you, check your settings in IE. Go to Tools / Internet Options / Advanced and make sure that 'Enable folder view for FTP sites' is turned on.

IE is useful for quick edits and management of small starter websites, but you'll want to progress to a dedicated FTP application as your site grows.

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