Using Internet Explorer for FTP

Important Update, January 2007

The method described below for uploading web pages with the aid of Internet Explorer, was devised in the days when the only available FTP programs were commercial products costing money. The technique works with Internet Explorer versions 5 and 6, but has been recently been reported not to work with version 7. With several excellent FTP programs now available free, there is no longer a need for this no-cost alternative. Since a number of people have reported finding this method useful in the past, I have left this page in place. However I would not advocate new users trying it. Download a copy of FileZilla as described at Putting Your Pages onto the Web and you will find this a much easier approach.

Ways of Uploading Your Pages

After creating your web pages, you need to upload them to your web space provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). In the Basic Topics, I have suggested that you use a dedicated FTP program for this. But did you know that recent versions of the major browsers allow you to do uploads without spending anything on a dedicated program?

Uploading files is certainly possible with Internet Explorer, Version 5. However this seems to be quite a well-kept secret. The "help" information indicates that it is possible, but fails to describe how. I have produced this page to give you some more clues. (Uploading may also be possible with earlier versions of Internet Explorer. If you have one of these, try it and see if it works.)

FTP With IE5

  1. Adjust the size of your Internet Explorer window, so it fills about half your screen. Now open a Windows Explorer window and size this to fill the rest of the screen.
  2. In the Windows Explorer window, display the contents of the folder where you keep your web pages. (This will be c:\webpages\ if you have followed the suggestions in the Basic Topics.)
  3. In the Internet Explorer window, enter the following line into the address box, where you would normally put a web site address.
    The three items on this line will have been given you by your ISP: Note the use of the ":" and "@" symbols to separate the parts of the address. So for example, in my case I would enter the line:

    (Except of course, I would put in my actual password, which I am certainly not including here!)

    With luck, you should now see your personal home directory in your ISP's web space. If you have already uploaded some pages to your site, you should see these. If not, the directory will either be empty, or may contain a single file called index.htm or index.html, telling the world that you have not yet used your web space.

  4. Now to upload your files, all you have to do is to use the standard windows drag and drop technique. Click on a file, or group of files in the Windows Explorer window and whilst holding the left mouse button pressed, drag it/them to the Internet Explorer window. Depending on the size of the files it may take a little time for the transfer to occur, but eventually you should see the files in the Internet Explorer window. You may now rejoice!
  5. Note that because the files are being transfered to a different site, windows will automatically copy the files, rather than moving them. So you won't lose the copies on your hard disk.
  6. If the directory in your web space did indeed contain a "dummy" file, make sure have over written it with one of the same name, or else erase it deliberately. (If you end up with one file called index.htm and another called index.html, you cannot be sure that the user will find the right one).
  7. Should you want to copy files back from your web site, to your local machine for any reason, you might expect you could drag them back the opposite way. For some reason this will not work. However if you Right Click on a file in the ISP webspace window, you will get a pop-up menu, which includes the option to copy the file back to your local hard disk.
  8. When you have files on your web site, and are updating them, it can be useful to compare the dates on the files. The View menu in the Internet Explorer window will give you the option of viewing these details, just as you can do in the Windows Explorer window.

Copyright © Alan Simpson 2000-2007 Back to index. Last Updated 2007-01-30