How to Use FTP & cPanel to Upload Themes & Plugins Easily

How to Use FTP

Learn how to use FTP & cPanel to transfer your files and folders to your WordPress website. File Transfer Protocol or short for FTP is a connection from a remote server ie your host to your computer, and vice versa. It opens up a gateway to easily transfer themes and plugins etc. A cPanel is virtually the same, but the gateway is performed directly via your server and your computer.

Some people prefer using FTP while others prefer using cPanel. Some servers (your host provider) provide FTP only while others provide cPanel only, and others offer both. My current provider Host Papa provides both.

For years, I used FTP and didn't know any different until I switched servers. This gave me an opportunity to use cPanel as well. Much to my surprise, I found cPanel much easier and transfers were instant compared to FTP, nevertheless I've found FTP can do the odd thing that cPanel can't.

How to use FTP or cPanel?

To upload themes and plugins to your WordPress website they should be no larger than 8mb. When themes and plugins are too big to upload you have to use FTP or cPanel to transfer them. Let's get started...

Firstly, install Client FilaZilla (not the Server) onto your PC, since you will be using it a lot it's best to add it to your desktop for easy access. I have never had any issues with FileZilla, but there are other respectable sources.

Secondly, you will need to access your login details, these will be your username, password and port number. Your user name is usually your website without the http://www, and the port number is usually 21. In all the time I've used FTP I've never had to add a port number. Once those details are added to your FTP, you're now ready to click on Quickconnect.

If you're using cPanel, you will need to login to your server client account which will take you to your dashboard. You can then access your cPanel, then open up File Manager which is usually found at the top left.

Congratulations you're almost done!

Finding Your Way Around FileZilla

There are six panels inside FileZilla, which can appear confusing so hopefully I'll explain it the easy way.

Very Top Panel: This is where you'll see your connection once you've hit the 'Quickconnect button'. Unless there are any issues with your login this should be a simple process. If you receive any error code I suggest you contact your server for support.

Top Left Panel: Here you will see all your documents on your PC.

Top Right Panel: Here you will see all your folders for your website. The only folder you need to open is httpdocs.

Bottom Left Panel: Here you will see what folders you want to upload to your website, but there will be nothing into until you start opening up folders in the top left pane.

Bottom Right Panel: Here you will see all your files from your website when you click on the folders in the top right panel.

Very Bottom Panel: This is where you will view the uploading or deleting of files and folders.

TIP: You can move each panel up and down to make them bigger or smaller to get a better view.

In this tutorial, I aim to give you a step-by-step guide on how to use FTP via FileZilla & cPanel to access all of your WordPress files regardless of which hosting you use.

Click to Tweet

How to use FileZilla & cPanel

Before uploading a theme or a plugin to Filezilla you will need to extract it. It is the extracted file that is going to be uploaded.

You have to do this via your PC - do not go into the top left panel to extract it. Once done go back to Filazilla.

Firstly, you need to find the folder you want to upload it to in the top right panel. Open httpdocs not httpsdocs. This will open more folders for you to locate wp-content, then find your theme and plugin folder.

Finding Your Way Around cPanel

cPanel is very easy to use as is FTP once you understand it, but as a rule of thumb cPanel is easier. A particular benefit is if you accidentally delete a folder, you can easily restore it unlike FTP it is lost forever. 

There are two panels in File Manger, the left is where you can access your website and the right is to dig deeper into your folders.

To get started go to the left panel to find your public_html folder. Click on the plus sign if that's what your server uses. This opens up all your websites. Click on your website folder then WP-Content to locate and open your theme and plugin folder.

Transferring Themes and Plugins

In your FTP, move over to your top left panel to find your extracted folder. The folder that you want to move will have lots of files and other folders inside which should display in the bottom left panel. Rename the folder, I just add '-new' on the end.

Do not move those individual files, but rather drag the whole folder across to the top right theme or plugin folder. The transition will now begin, which can be seen in the very bottom panel. Once the uploading has finished, go into your WordPress and activate your theme or plugin. 

Well done - You are now successful at using Filezilla.

The cPanel method is very similar, but you have to upload the folder.

Deleting Old Folders

When your folders have transferred you will need to delete the old folders or if you want to keep them for a while change the name, I usually add '-old' on the end. You will need to remove the words '-new' on the recently transferred folder. 

If you're working in FTP, you will need to go to your WordPress website dashboard to activate your theme or plugin. If you're working in cPanel, your folder should automatically activate.

What Now?

Take some time to move around those folders inside Filezilla and cPanel to familiarize yourself what should and shouldn't be there.

I once found some unusual files. As a precaution before deleting them I decided that I'd download them to my PC, but as I did my Antivirus warned me they contained viruses.

Always preform a backup before you transfer folders just in case you make a mistake.

About the Author Sharon

You're talking to Sharon May...I love all things creative. Why not use my years of expertise to fast track your website? Today, let me show you how to make the right choices that will deliver! Explore the amazing things you can do when creating a website. Give yourself more power and less worry over what you can trust!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: