19. Making your Website Public
Great job! Now you have an amazing website, but it’s stuck on your computer where no one else can find it or view it. How do you get your website onto the Internet so it can be shared?
To get your site on the internet, you’ll need hosting—that is, a remote computer that will stay on day in and day out to serve the website to visitors. In theory, you could host your website on your own computer, but in practice, it usually makes sense to purchase hosting from a hosting company or use a free service.
You’ll also need a way of getting your website to your host. That’s where FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, comes in.
FTP is a protocol used to share files from your computer (a client) to another computer called a server, and back again over the Internet. This is something we do all the time, but we refer to it as “uploading” and “downloading.”
Note: Though FTP stands for file transfer protocol, you are not really transfering or moving your files from your computer; instead they are copied to the server. Fear not!
In order to transfer your website files (also called your website’s directory) to a server you will need:
- Access to the Internet.
- An FTP Client.
- A server that is connected to the Internet where you can send your files.
Assuming you all can manage accessing the internet on your own, let’s focus on the latter two.
An FTP client is software designed specifically for the purpose of sharing files between computers. There are widely-used, freely-available GUI applications (i.e., applications that use a graphic user interface, or the point-and-click, user-friendly software interfaces you are used to) that you can download for use, including Filezilla and Cyberduck. You can also run an FTP client program through the command line on most computers, though the process varies by operating system.
Other Resources about FTP
- FTP for Beginners, Wired
- The Three Best FTP Clients for Windows
- How To Use FTP Through the Command Line in Mac OS X
- How to Use the Mac Terminal as an FTP or SFTP Client
You also need a server to transfer your files to, where they can be stored and shared on the Internet. This is what we call web hosting and there are multiple options here as well. The GCDI (CUNY Graduate Center Digital Initiatives) website contains a list of low-cost cloud hosting services for students. As long as your site is just plain HTML and CSS, it’s also possible to host your website for free on services such as GitHub Pages.
Guides to Web Hosting Services
Challenges for lesson 19
Terms Used in Lesson
Terms Used in Lesson
Can you define the terms below? Hover over each of them to read a preview of the definitions.