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Using the cPanel File Manager

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Understanding the cPanel File Manager

The cPanel File Manager is a versatile and user-friendly tool, essential for managing the files on your hosting account. Acting as a web-based alternative to conventional FTP software, it provides a seamless interface for uploading, editing, and managing files directly within your browser. This feature is crucial for website maintenance, enabling you to handle a variety of tasks such as uploading website content, creating backups, editing code, and organising your site’s file structure.

Quick Start Guide

Getting Started with File Manager

This section is designed to introduce you to the cPanel File Manager, guiding you through its intuitive interface and basic functionalities. Whether you’re uploading your first file, creating new directories, or navigating through your file structure, this guide will provide you with the knowledge needed to manage your web content

Accessing File Manager

After logging into cPanel, locate the ‘File Manager’ icon in the ‘Files’ section. A single click opens the File Manager interface, presenting a view of your web hosting account directory.

The image shows a web hosting control panel interface with options like File Manager, Images, Directory Privacy, FTP Accounts, highlighted around the File Manager.

The File Manager consists of a navigation menu on the left, showing all the directories in your account, and a larger pane on the right displaying the contents of the selected directory. Please note, all website files are contained within the public_html directory.

The image shows a screenshot of the cPanel File Manager with various directories such as etc, logs, mail, and public_html, displaying details like size, modification date, type, and permissions.

Basic Operations

Uploading Files

To upload files, navigate to the desired directory, click ‘Upload’, and select files from your computer. The uploaded files will appear in the directory.

The image shows a web-based file manager interface for managing files on a server, with functions like upload, delete, and edit available.

Creating New Files/Folders

Create new files or folders by clicking the ‘New File’ or ‘New Folder’ buttons. This is useful for organising your web content or creating new pages.

Adding a new file in the cPanel File Manager is a straightforward process, ideal for when you need to quickly create a file directly within your hosting environment. To begin, navigate to the directory where you want the new file to reside. Once there, click on the ‘+ File’ button at the top of the File Manager interface. A prompt will appear, asking you to name your file and specify the extension (e.g., .html, .php, .txt). After entering the desired file name, simply click ‘Create New File’. The file will be instantly created and listed in the current directory, ready for you to edit or populate with content as needed. This feature is particularly useful for adding new web pages, creating configuration files, or even drafting quick notes directly on your server.

The image displays a web-based file manager interface, showing options like upload, download, copy, move, and delete, with a directory path and one folder listed.

Adding a new folder in the cPanel File Manager is a fundamental task that helps in organising your website’s files and directories. To create a new folder, navigate to the directory where you want the folder to be located. Once there, look for the ‘+ Folder’ button found at the top of the File Manager interface. Clicking this button will prompt you to enter a name for your new folder. Choose a name that represents the contents or purpose of the folder, enhancing your website’s structure and accessibility. After naming the folder, simply click ‘Create’ to establish it in the chosen location. This new folder can now be used to store and organise various files, such as images, scripts, or documents, keeping your file system neat and well-managed.

This is a screenshot of the cPanel File Manager interface with options like 'File,' 'Folder,' 'Copy,' and 'Upload' visible at the top.

Editing Files

Right-click on a file and select ‘Edit’ to modify its contents. This built-in editor is handy for quick changes to HTML, PHP, or CSS files.

In-depth Guide

The cPanel File Manager also provides a series of more advanced features designed to streamline your web management experience. Beyond basic file uploading and editing, this powerful tool offers capabilities that cater to more complex needs. From setting file permissions for enhanced security to efficiently managing large amounts of data with compression and extraction tools, File Manager is an indispensable asset for website administrators. This section will guide you through these advanced functionalities, providing practical insights and examples to help you achieve the full potential of File Manager.

Enhanced File Operations in File Manager

The image shows a web-based file manager interface with options to add files, folders, upload, download, delete, restore files, and other management features.

Copying Files

To duplicate a file within your hosting space, navigate to the file, right-click, and select ‘Copy’. You will be prompted to choose the destination folder. This feature is useful for creating backups of important files before making changes.

Moving Files

To reorganise your file structure, the ‘Move’ function allows you to relocate files or folders. Right-click on the desired file and select ‘Move’. Enter the path of the target directory to complete the process. This is particularly useful for restructuring your website’s layout or organising content into specific folders.

Renaming Files

Renaming files is straightforward in File Manager. Right-click on a file and select ‘Rename’. This function is essential for updating file names to reflect their content or purpose, making your file structure more intuitive and organised.

Deleting Files

To delete files or folders, right-click on them and choose ‘Delete’. This action will move the items to the trash, where they can be permanently deleted or restored if needed. Be cautious with this function to avoid accidental loss of important data.

Using the Search Functionality

File Manager’s search feature allows you to locate files quickly. For instance, if you need to find all files containing the word “quota” in their filenames, simply enter “quota” in the search bar. The system will scan your directories and display all matching results, saving you time and simplifying file management.

Advanced Features of File Manager

File Permissions

Understanding and managing file permissions is crucial for security and functionality. Each file and folder has specific permissions, dictating read, write, and execute access. To modify these, right-click on a file, choose ‘Change Permissions’, and adjust as needed.

Compressing and Extracting Files

File Manager allows you to compress and extract files. This is particularly useful for backups or transferring multiple files. Select the files, right-click, and choose ‘Compress’ or ‘Extract’.

Managing Archives

Easily handle zip, tar, gzip, and bzip2 files. Upload an archive and use the ‘Extract’ function to unpack it, or select files and ‘Compress’ into a new archive.

Searching for Files

The search functionality enables you to quickly locate files. Enter a keyword in the search bar and File Manager will display relevant results from your entire account or a specific directory.

Practical Examples

Setting Up a Website

Upload your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to the ‘public_html’ directory. Organise these files into folders for a clean structure, ensuring your homepage is named ‘index.html’.

Editing a Configuration File

Locate a configuration file (e.g., ‘wp-config.php’ for WordPress), right-click and select ‘Edit’. Modify the file as needed, save changes, and close the editor.

The image shows a web hosting control panel interface (cPanel) with an open file manager, displaying directories and files for a website, highlighting options for a selected file.

FTP Software: Optimizing Management of Multiple Files and Directories

Managing a large number of files and directories can sometimes be more efficiently handled using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software, especially when compared to web-based tools like the cPanel File Manager.

Advantages of FTP Software for Managing Multiple Files and Directories:

  1. Bulk Operations: FTP clients allow you to easily handle bulk operations. You can upload, download, or modify multiple files and directories simultaneously, which is more time-efficient than handling each file individually through a web interface.
  2. Drag-and-Drop Interface: Many FTP clients offer a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface, making it simple to move files between your local machine and your hosting account. This can significantly speed up the process of organizing and managing large file structures.
  3. Reliable Large File Handling: FTP is generally more reliable for transferring large files. Web-based interfaces can sometimes struggle with large file sizes or slow down significantly, whereas FTP clients maintain consistent performance.
  4. Continuous Operations: FTP clients can maintain a connection to the server for extended periods, allowing for continuous file transfer operations without timeouts, which can be a limitation in some web-based interfaces.
  5. Automated Scripts and Scheduling: Advanced users can take advantage of FTP scripts and scheduling features. This means you can automate repetitive tasks, such as nightly backups or regular file synchronizations, which is not typically possible with basic File Manager tools.
  6. Bandwidth Control: FTP clients often give you the ability to control bandwidth usage, allowing you to perform file transfers without monopolizing your network’s resources.
  7. Security Features: Most modern FTP clients support secure file transfer protocols like SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) or FTPS (FTP Secure), providing an encrypted connection for transferring sensitive data.

Considerations for Using FTP:

  • Setup and Configuration: Using FTP software requires initial setup and configuration, including installing the software and entering the correct server settings.
  • Learning Curve: For those unfamiliar with FTP, there may be a learning curve compared to the more straightforward File Manager in cPanel.
  • Software Installation: Unlike web-based File Manager, FTP requires the installation of additional software on your computer.

In summary, while cPanel’s File Manager is a convenient tool for basic file management tasks, FTP software offers enhanced capabilities and efficiency for managing large numbers of files and complex directory structures. It’s particularly beneficial for users who regularly handle bulk file operations or need advanced features like automated transfers and bandwidth control.

When considering FTP software for managing multiple files and directories, there are several reliable options available, each with its own set of features catering to different user needs. SmartHost highly recommends FileZilla, a user-friendly and robust FTP client that is well-suited for both beginners and advanced users. FileZilla offers a comprehensive set of tools, including drag-and-drop functionality, directory comparison, and support for various file transfer protocols like FTP, FTPS, and SFTP.

This is a screenshot of the FileZilla application interface, showing menu options and fields for Host, Username, Password, and Port for establishing a connection.

Other notable FTP clients include WinSCP, known for its strong security features and integration with Windows, and Cyberduck, which offers an intuitive interface and compatibility with cloud storage services. For MacOS users, Transmit is a popular choice, praised for its speed and elegant interface. These FTP software options provide flexibility and efficiency for handling large-scale file operations, streamlining the process of managing your website’s backend. By choosing the right FTP client, you can significantly enhance your file management workflow, ensuring smooth and secure transfers of your valuable data.

Please note that while SmartHost recommends FileZilla for its ease of use and reliability, this recommendation is based on our own experiences and preferences. SmartHost does not officially support or endorse third-party software, including FileZilla, WinSCP, Cyberduck, or Transmit. Users should exercise their own discretion and consider their individual needs when selecting FTP software. We encourage you to research and ensure that any third-party software you choose to use complies with your specific requirements and security standards. SmartHost is not responsible for any issues arising from the download, installation, or use of third-party software.


The cPanel File Manager is an indispensable tool for managing your website’s files with ease and efficiency. It simplifies complex tasks, making web management accessible to users of all technical levels. For any assistance or queries, the SmartHost support team is always ready to help.

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