Putting Your Pages onto the Web

By now you should have a site consisting of one or more pages, that you are happy with. It is time to show them to the world!

General Principles

At the moment the pages are all on the hard disk of your computer in the directory webpages. If the rest of the web is to see them, they must be uploaded to the webspace provided for you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The details of how this is done, vary slightly from one ISP to another, so you should start by looking at any information provided by your ISP. There will probably be something on your ISP's own web site, or it may have been included on a CD which you used to get connected in the first place. The general principles will be the same for all ISPs so I will describe the process for my ISP, ClaraNET and leave you to change the details as necessary for your ISP.

Before You Start

There are two things to check:
  1. Are all your filenames in lowercase letters and do all your links use lowercase letters for the URL? This probably won't matter, because many ISP's home page servers will ignore case, but yours may be one of the ones that does not, so it is simplest to adopt an "all lower case" convention. Windows programs are not very consistent, some will save in all upper case and some with just first letters in upper case. Check with Windows Explorer, and rename any that have got any upper case letters.
    If you have several files to convert or find that some of your filenames "mysteriously" change case, see theWhy do my Filenames Change Case? item in the Extra Topics here.
  2. Check that one of your files is called index.htm. By default, if someone just enters the address of your web site, without a filename, they will receive the file called index.htm, so you should always make sure that you have one of these and that it is the page where you want your visitors to enter the site.

    When you get more ambitious and start putting subdirectories on your web site, always make sure that each directory contains its own index.htm file, for the same reason.

Software Needed

Your web browser is able to download pages from the web, but not to upload them. To do this you need a special program that supports the File Transfer Protocol. The web being a great place for acronyms, it is of course known as an FTP program!

Your ISP may already have provided you with an FTP program as part of your start-up kit, or he may well have one available for you to download on his web site. Don't worry if this is not the case. There are a number of FTP programs available on the web, some of which are freeware. If you don't already have one, I suggest you try FileZilla. This is excellent Open Source program written by Tim Kosse and may be downloaded at no cost from http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/filezilla/

In the days when the only FTP programs were commercial software, I suggested a method of using Internet Explorer itself for uploading, as a zero-cost alternative. This is described in the item Using Internet Explorer to Upload Your Pages in the Extra Topics section of these web pages. However it has been reported not to work in Internet Explorer 7, and with the advent of free FTP programs such as FileZilla, there is no longer a need for it.

Whatever software you choose, follow the makers instructions for installing it on your machine.

Configuring your FTP Program

Whatever FTP program you use, the first time you use it, you will probably need to configure it for a connection to the "homepages" area of your ISP's site. Most FTP programs allow you to set up a menu of FTP sites you use regularly, where you keep all the parameters needed for each site. So you first need to set up your ISP as one of these sites. I will take the FileZilla FTP program as an example.
  1. Click the "Site Manager" button, or select "Site Manager" from the File menu. This will give you a dialog box to enter details of the server. Click the "New Site" button and a new entry will be added to the list of available sites in the "My FTP Sites" folder.
  2. Name for the site will intially be "New FTP Site" and will be selected in blue, so you can immediately replace this by a name of your choice. Just enter a name by which you will remember this site. (It doesn't matter what you choose, it only appears in your FTP sites menu). Now fill in the details for your ISP's site.
  3. In the Host box, put the correct hostname for uploading home pages, that you have been given by your ISP. In my case, this is home.clara.net.
  4. Unless your ISP has told you to use a specific port for FTP, leave the Port box set to the default value of 21.
  5. Unless your ISP has told you otherwise, leave the Servertype set to its default value of "FTP".
  6. FTP servers usually have two methods of operation. One, known as "Anonymous FTP" allows anyone to connect to the site for downloading material, without having to have a specific account with the server. The other requires that the user is known to the site and has been given a username and password. For uploading data to your home page, you will of course use the latter method. You wouldn't want anyone to be able to load data onto your homepage would you? So depending on your FTP program, either clear any checkbox labelled Anonymous or, as in the case of the FileZilla program, select the radio button Normal, which will automatically clear the Anonymous button.
  7. Now enter your username and password in the boxes provided. These will have been given to you when you opened your account with your ISP and will generally be the same ones you use to log on to the ISP when browsing. You will probably also want to check the radio button to make this your "Default site".
  8. As a convenience your FTP program will probably allow you to enter details of the starting directories on your hard disk, and on your server's system, where your pages are located. These just mean that when you start a connection to this server, you will automatically start in the correct directories. In the case of FileZilla, you get to these settings by clicking the "Advanced" button. If you have followed our earlier suggestions, your local starting directory will be c:\webpages. Your remote starting directory will depend on your ISP. In the case of ClaraNET it is webspace.
  9. Finally any box labelled "Bypass Proxy Settings" or "Firewall Friendly Operation" can probably be left un-checked. If you are using a firewall to access the internet, it is best to set up your firewall software to permit the FTP program to access the internet, rather than setting up the FTP program to bypass the firewall. If you have problems check the instructions supplied with the firewall software.

Transfering the Files

Now that you have set up a configuration for your ISP, when you want to transfer data between your hard disk and your ISP webspace, all you have to do is click the Connect button. In the case of FileZilla, this is labelled with an "R", for Reconnect. This will attempt to connect to the site you set up as your "Default site" in the step above.

If all is well, a connection will be established with your ISP (you need the phone line plugged in of course, just as for normal web browsing). You should then see two separate panes, looking a little like Windows Explorer. If you set up the correct starting directories, one should be showing the various files you have created in your webpages directory and the other should be showing your webspace directory on your ISP's site. (This will probably be empty).

Your FTP program will probably give you the choice of transfering files as ASCII or Binary. In FileZilla this is accessed by selecting "Transfer Type", from the Transfer menu. Usually there will be an "Auto" option selected by default, where the program decides which method to use based on what the file contains. Normally this works fine and should be the method of choice.

Since you want to start by copying all your files to the site, highlight all the files in the local pane and either drag them to the remote pane if your FTP program supports drag-and-drop, or otherwise click the Upload button. Check that after a few minutes spent transfering data, the Remote Pane now also shows the same files. In future, when you add or change files, you need only upload the ones that have changed.

Double check that the index.htm file has been transfered, since this will be the first file visitors see when connecting to your site. Then click "disconnect" on your FTP program.

Now for the moment of truth! Connect to the Web in the usual way and enter the URL Address for your home page. (In my case I can use either http://www.shotover.clara.net/ or http://home.clara.net/shotover/. Yours will depend on your ISP). If all is well, you should see your page index.htm displayed. Check that all the other pages are there and that the links between them all work, then celebrate. You are now the proud owner of a Web Site!

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