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Dreamweaver: Using FTP

This document explains how to use and change general settings in Adobe Dreamweaver.

Setting up Dreamweaver's FTP connection

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one of the most commonly used methods for transferring files to and from a remote server. Depending on your setup, the remote server is where you store files for testing, collaboration, production, deployment or other tasks. To transfer via FTP in Dreamweaver, users enter their FTP server information in the Remote Info category of the Site Definition dialog box. In the Files panel, users can then click the Connect and Put buttons to upload selected files and/or folders. For details, see the Define Sites link.

Note: The screenshots and specific functionality  are from Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004. This information will still benefit someone using any version of the application, even if certain functionality is not available or screenshots look different.

Much of this information has been taken from the following sections of the Dreamweaver MX 2004 help system (Help> Using Dreamweaver):

  • Setting Remote Options for FTP access
  • Setting Site preference options
  • Setting up a remote folder

If you have already defined an FTP site and you are encountering a specific error, refer to the Additional Information section for a list of other common problems.

There are three steps involved when setting up a Dreamweaver site for FTP:

  1. Verify that FTP is your best option for connecting to the remote server
  2. Set up the Dreamweaver Site Definition
  3. Set up the Dreamweaver Site preference Options

Verify that FTP is your best option for connecting to the remote server

Before setting up a Dreamweaver site definition, determine whether FTP is your best or only option for connecting to your remote server. The FTP protocol has been around for many years and is known for being a loosely structured protocol that can present challenges in terms of reliability and compatibility. Dreamweaver allows you to connect to remote servers using a variety of methods, in addition to FTP:

  • Local/Network - if you are accessing a server on your local area network.
  • Secure FTP (SFTP) - SFTP is a separate protocol from FTP that enables you to fully encrypt all file transfers and prevent unauthorized access to your data, files, user names, and passwords.
  • WebDAV
  • Visual SourceSafe
  • RDS

The first two options on the list—Local/Network and SFTP—are the most likely substitutes for FTP. These two protocols are more efficient and reliable than FTP, so you may want to pursue one of them if it is available for you. See the Dreamweaver help files for more information.

Set up the Dreamweaver Site Definition

In order to use FTP in Dreamweaver, you either need a site definition or you need to setup siteless file editing. Dreamweaver needs one of these two in order to know how to connect to the server. Starting with Dreamweaver MX 2004, you can connect directly to an FTP server without a formal site definition (siteless file editing), however a site definition provides more functionality within Dreamweaver. Most Dreamweaver users prefer to take advantage of the site definition's additional functionality. To learn more about site definitions, see How to define a site in Dreamweaver or refer to the Dreamweaver help files (Help > Using Dreamweaver > Dreamweaver Basics > Setting Up a Dreamweaver Site).

To set up or edit the FTP settings in Dreamweaver, follow the steps below:

  1. Choose Site > Manage Sites.
  2. In the Manage Sites dialog box, either click the New button or select your existing site definition and click the Edit button.
  3. In the Site Definition dialog box, you will see two tabs: Basic and Advanced. For the purposes of this TechNote, we will focus on the Advanced tab, since it includes more FTP options than the Basic tab.
  4. From the Advanced tab, choose the Remote Info category. It should look like this:
  5. In the Access drop-down menu, select FTP, once you have determined that FTP is your best option.
  6. In the FTP host field, enter the host name of the FTP host to which you upload files for your website. Your FTP host is the full Internet name of a computer system, such as Enter the full host name without any additional text. In particular, don't add a protocol name in front of the host name. Port 21 is the default port for receiving FTP connections, however sometimes server administrators change the port setting to another port to prevent unauthorized FTP access. In those situations, you can append a colon and the port number to the FTP host entry. For example, if the port is 29, you would enter
  7. In the Host directory field, enter the host directory at the remote site where you store your documents that are visible to the public.If you’re uncertain about what to enter as the host directory, contact the server’s administrator. Or, try leaving the text box blank. On some servers, your root directory is the same as the directory you first connect to with FTP. To find out, connect to the server. If a folder with a name like public_html, or www, or your login name, appears in the Remote File view in your Files panel, that’s probably the directory you should use in the Host Directory text box.
  8. In the Login and Password fields, enter the login name and password that you use to connect to the FTP server.
  9. Click the Test button to test your FTP host, host directory, login name and password.
  10. Dreamweaver saves your password by default. Deselect the Save checkbox if you prefer that Dreamweaver prompt you for a password each time you connect to the remote server.
  11. Select the Use passive FTP checkbox if your firewall configuration requires use of passive FTP. Passive FTP enables your local software to set up the FTP connection rather than requesting the remote server to set it up. If you’re not sure whether to use passive FTP, check with your system administrator, or try both checking and unchecking Use Passive FTP.
  12. Select the Use firewall checkbox if you connect to the remote server from behind a firewall.
  13. Click Firewall Settings button to launch the Dreamweaver Site preference options to edit your firewall host or port. Preferences are discussed in the next section.
  14. Select the Use Secure FTP (SFTP) checkbox to use SFTP for secure authentication. SFTP uses encryption and public keys to secure a connection to your testing server. Note: Your server must be running an SFTP service.
  15. The Server Compatibility button is only in version 7.0.1 of Dreamweaver MX 2004. If you are using Dreamweaver MX 2004 and you do not see this button, download the 7.0.1 Updater. This button should only be used for troubleshooting purposes. It is especially useful for sites that used to work in prior versions of Dreamweaver, but do not work in Dreamweaver MX 2004. See Troubleshooting FTP Issues in Dreamweaver for more information on these options.
  16. The checkboxes for "Automatically upload files to server on save" and "Enable file check in and check out" are not specific to FTP sites. Refer to Dreamweaver help for more information on these two options.

Note: The FTP Host, Host Directory, Login and Password information must be obtained from the system administrator for the company hosting your site. No one else has access to this information. Enter the information exactly as your system administrator gives it to you.

Set up the Dreamweaver Site preference options

In addition to the Site Definition dialog box, Dreamweaver provides the Preferences dialog box for entering FTP settings. Unlike site definitions, which must be set for each site, site preference settings affect all sites. Users do not need to change the default Site FTP Preferences in most cases. However, when troubleshooting, it is useful to try other settings.

Here is how to access the Preferences dialog box:

  • Windows:  Edit > Preferences, then choose Site from the category list
  • Mac:  Dreamweaver > Preferences, then choose Site from the category list

The Site preference options relevant to FTP are as follows:

FTP Connection determines whether the connection to the remote site is terminated after the specified number of minutes have passed with no activity.

FTP Time Out specifies the number of seconds in which Dreamweaver attempts to make a connection with the remote server. If there is no response after the specified amount of time, Dreamweaver displays a warning dialog box alerting you to this fact. The default value of 60 seconds works for the majority of FTP servers.

FTP Transfer Options determines whether Dreamweaver selects the default option, after a specified number of seconds, when a dialog box appears during a file transfer and there is no user response.

Firewall Host specifies the address of the proxy server through which you connect to outside servers if you are behind a firewall. If you are not behind a firewall, leave this space blank. If you are behind a firewall, select the Use Firewall option in the Site Definition dialog box.

Firewall Port specifies the port in your firewall through which you pass to connect to the remote server. If you connect through a port other than 21 (the default for FTP), enter the number here.

Additional Information

For help with setting up Dreamweaver's FTP connection and troubleshooting FTP problems or for information regarding other FTP issues follow these links: