Media File management in Joomla with FTP and Third-party Extensions

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Alternative method of managing files and media

Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not have login access to your web hosting server. If you do not, then one of your only options for uploading files will be to use the Joomla! Media Manager, or the option of third-party Joomla! Extensions.

If you do have web server access, then by using a method called FTP (File Transfer Protocol), you will be able to gain greater control over your file management.

FTP is a standard network protocol that is used to exchange and manipulate files over a computer network. A common use of FTP is to transfer files over the Internet between a local computer and a web server, which is exactly what we are after!

FTP clients

There are numerous FTP clients (programs) that can be used to transfer files. Some of these graphically show the file and transfer processes, making the management of your files from your computer to your web server very easy to do.

FTP programs

FTP programs range from no cost applications through to commercial software. Which one you choose to use will be down to personal preference. Most of these programs provide drag and drop features as well as easy directory navigation tools:

Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia

There are excellent FTP programs for all major operating systems. Some popular options for Windows and Mac are:

  1. Windows
    • FileZilla
    • CuteFTP
    • SmartFTP
    • WS_FTP
    • cURL
  2. Mac
    • FileZilla
    • Transmit
    • Cyberduck
    • CuteFTP
    • Fetch
    • FTP Comm and in Terminal

If you perform a search using a popular search engine, you will obtain a definitive list of FTP programs. A suggestion would be to download a trial version of these to see which one suits your operating system and requirements.

For the purpose of this topic, I have chosen to use and take screenshots from an FTP program called “Transmit”. It is a commercial product, but personally one of my favorites. For those whose use MAC computers, Transmit is recognized as a wonderful FTP tool.

Connecting using an FTP program

Almost all FTP programs require similar information in order to connect to the web server. Depending on the program you are using, the naming of these fields may be slightly different.

In order to connect, we need the following information which is usually derived from setting up a user account (with FTP permissions) on your web hosting control panel:

  1. Server

    This is the server address that you wish to connect to. Typically this can look like ftp.yourserver.com. Depending on the domain name settings, it can sometimes be your domain name, such as www.yourserver.com.

  2. User Name

    This is your web server account username. Often this can be in the format of yourusername@yourdomain.com.

  3. Password

    This is your web server account password.

  4. Initial Path

    Some programs offer the ability to set an initial directory to navigate to upon login. If you do not have this option, then do not worry.

  5. Port

    If the server requires connections on a port other than the default one, some programs offer you the ability to enter in a port number. It is best to leave this as the default setting unless you know what you are doing.

Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia

If you are having any issues connecting, then it’s best to contact your web hosting administrator in order to check your login access details.

There are typically three types of FTP login methods available. These are:

  1. Anonymous FTP access

    This is an easy connection method as you do not need to include any user information. Sometimes software companies offer updates or corporate and government websites offer forms and content to be downloaded via an anonymous connection method.

  2. Username

    A simplified but restricted access level where you will be required to enter just a username. This type of FTP login is often used in school and intranet environments.

  3. Username and Password

    This is a more restricted security access level where the user requires both a username and password in order to access the server. This method is often used by web hosting companies who offer people the ability to upload files to the web server.

If your FTP connection is set to username (or username and password), then you should see a dialog box on the screen. This will prompt you to enter your security access details:

Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia

Once connected, you will need to navigate to your webroot folder. Depending on your web server, this area may be named httpdocs, mainwebsite_html, public_html, or other naming conventions. It will be inside this directory where your Joomla! website files will reside.

When you have located your main http documents area and clicked to navigate inside this, you will see the default Joomla! media folder named images.

Joomla! 1.5 Multimedia

When you have successfully navigated to your remote main media folder (or any of the subfolders within this), you will need to make sure that you also navigate locally to the folders or files you wish to upload. Most FTP programs offer you the ability to create new directories, and drag and drop files from your local computer to the web server.

By using an FTP program, you can gain additional control over your website files and content.

FTP programs can allow you to:

  • Create files and directories
  • Rename files and directories
  • Move files and directories
  • Delete files and directories
  • Set file and directory permissions

FTP programs offer you the most flexibility in managing your website files, but it is important to take care when using FTP programs. By connecting to your directory structure on the web server, you are navigating amongst core Joomla! files.

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