Say ftp for me
August 15, 2013 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Say I was a cartoonist who needed to set up an ftp site ...

Say I was a cartoonist.
Say I need to put up daily cartoons on a secure ftp site for newspapers to get to.
Say I need to set that up myself and am a user of computers but have limited IT skills.
Say if you tell me not to do it myself, I won't quibble with you.
Say I have a MacBook with OSX 10.8.
Say I have a simple website presently hosted at Dreamhost.
Say I suspect I could do it there if that's the easiest.
Say I would be interested if I didn't have to do it there.
Say I'm concerned just turning on file sharing on my Mac isn't a secure thing to do.
Say free is good but a slight cost to do it is manageable.
Say you could explain it to me like 'ftp for dummies'.

What would I do?

Thank you. Thank you. I have enough trouble drawing these things.
posted by lpsguy to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would ask why specifically ftp is needed and not, say, https.
posted by demiurge at 11:55 AM on August 15, 2013

If you have a website with Dreamhost, you should be able to set up FTP pretty easily.

Alternately, could you use a service like Dropbox instead?
posted by erst at 11:57 AM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do you know if you have ftp access to your site at Dreamhost?

If so, the easiest way to do this would be to create a directory there (like a folder, and an ftp client could do this, an ftp client is just a program you can use to do ftp, Cyberduck is such a problem) and upload the files there. Give newspapers the name/URL of the folder and either upload daily stuff there and date it (so you'd have a file called august152013-big.jpg and august2013-small.jpg) or just upload the new stuff and delete the old stuff, depending on what they want you to provide. Did they ask for anything more specific than "An ftp site"?

So from where you are

- get cyberduck
- get the ftp credentials for your site from Dreamhost (they may have an ftp option in their control panel, check)
- make an ftp connection and create a directory on your website
- put pictures in there
- tell newspapers where that directory is and what filename system you are using

If parts of that don't make sense, can you elaborate?
posted by jessamyn at 11:59 AM on August 15, 2013

You'll need a couple accounts with different access permissions, right? Your account to upload stuff, and newspaper accounts that can only read the files.
posted by ryanrs at 12:02 PM on August 15, 2013

Unless you have a specific need for FTP, I'd go with Dropbox or Google Drive for something like this.
posted by cnc at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2013

Can you say if you need some sort of management of who can get and download your files? Because it seems to me that you need something to manage the subscription. FTP doesn't seem like the best solution.

I'd use a service like, as erst suggested. Password-protect each file and send an e-mail to all your current subscribers with that filename and password.

That's doing it the simplest way - there are also ways to manage subscription content where you can in essence have stuff that someone can download off your website, but only if they have a current paid membership, but that's more complex.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2013

Response by poster: Some answers to your answers:

• I don't know why it has to be an ftp site. My agent who contacts newspapers says that's what they prefer.

• Checking with Dreamhost sounds good. The only problem is the site is for a different cartoon than the one I'm disseminating here and I'm worried about confusion. eg, sending people to to get CartoonB.

• Dropbox might be a possibility. I've head stories about Google drive, particularly from a fellow cartoonist who had all his files just disappear. Also I'm hearing worries about Google drive's security.

Does any of that help narrow it down?
posted by lpsguy at 12:12 PM on August 15, 2013

I'm sure the reason why it must be FTP is because FTP is a reliable, open standard that has been around forever. I can't see a newspaper publisher that has to deal with a couple dozen (or more) cartoonists wanting to deal with the hassle of dropbox or drive or any other idiosyncratic solution for each artist.

That being said, I currently host a site with Dreamhost, and have set up something almost exactly like what you need. But I did it years ago (and it still just works) so I couldn't really walk you through it now.

1.) You need to make sure that you have a webhosting package that includes FTP access.
2.) Do you own the domain If so, Dreamhost can host that for you.
2.) This dreamhost tutorial about setting up usergroups can help walk you through setting things up so that you can have full write access to your FTP site, but the papers will only have read access. It is kind of advanced though... you may want to just contact Dreamhost support to have them set it up for you -- maybe there's something where you can pay them $50 or something to get it going.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dreamhost appears to include an FTP daemon with it's standard VPS:
posted by pharm at 12:31 PM on August 15, 2013

Seems to me, if you're not an IT guy and you can't say why you need FTP, DropBox would be the way to go.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:53 PM on August 15, 2013

If you need an FTP client, then use Cyberduck. If you need an FTP server, use someone qualified to set that up for you.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:59 PM on August 15, 2013

Dreamhost can work for this.

If you received a requirement that says "secure ftp", they probably mean SFTP. FTP is not secure (any password supplied might possibly be snooped); SFTP is secure. This may or may not be a big concern for your application, but find out which one the newspapers want to use.

In the Dreamhost control panel, go to Users -> Manage Users -> Add A New User. Select either FTP or SFTP. Give the account a username and password. Share this username and password with the newspapers.

You might want to set up an account for each paper.

Once the account is set up, you can use an FTP/SFTP client like Cyberduck to upload your file using the username and password you created.


If you have a virtual private server with Dreamhost rather than shared hosting, or you need anonymous FTP, it's more complicated.
posted by paulg at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah this may require a bit more back and forth with your agent. Like... is this in preparation for potential clients, or is there a client, right now, who is asking you to have this option available? Could you get more information from your agent about what clients are expecting? Do you think your agent understands this?

Basically ftp is just a way of moving files around, so it's sort of like saying "Have email." You have ftp access via your Dreamhost account, either now or by upgrading. If all the clients need to do it get stuff from an ftp site (i.e.a directory that you make available to people and you upload files to it that they can download) you have that. If what they need is for you to be running an ftp server, then yeah you would need something else. Do you have other friends (or maybe there are people here) who are already doing this who can explain how they have this put together?

I agree with other folks, if you have the domain CartoonB available to you, you could easily have it pointed at just the directory where the stuff you want to share with clients is.
posted by jessamyn at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah, I checked. It has to be an ftp site.
And yes, the idea is that I load the cartoons with dates up in a folder and the newspapers come and get em for the comics pages. Nothing fancy. No bells and whistles. The goal is to make it as easy and familiar for the newspapers as possible. The only security I need is that I don't want anybodt who is not paying for the comic to go in and download it unless I want them to.

But if I'm reading this right, the easiest would be to grab the domain and throw myself on the mercy of Dreamhost to help me set it up?
posted by lpsguy at 2:19 PM on August 15, 2013

If you already have a Dreamhost account, registering a new domain is probably not a necessary step to get FTP working.

Go to on your existing account, and see if you can add an FTP user.
posted by paulg at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2013

FTP is pretty easy to set up on Dreamhost. I wouldn't worry about setting up groups or anything as long as this is not the sole location for these comics - instead, just set up a new FTP user and give them the password. essentially, log into your DreamHost panel, go to Manage Users, hit Add a New User, select ftp, put in a username (maybe just the name of the strip itself perhaps?), either choose a password or let it generate you one, then hit Next. give it a bit to get it set up and voila, you will have an FTP user with its own space that you can use for this. it will not be web accessible and you will be able to get to it through the "real" server name. if you're looking at the Manage Users page, the name under Machine is how you get to it - for example, all my accounts are on "bigtop" so I would connect to with the username and password I have. this method means anyone who has that username and password and hostname combination can get in and download and upload and delete things, but as long as you're not giving it out willy nilly that shouldn't be an issue. the newspaper should not care about what the actual hostname they have to use is, as it can vary a lot depending on how your hosting provider has things set up (and it really doesn't matter as long as the content is there).

I added the caveat to these instructions about not using this as the sole storage place for your comics because the newspaper will be able to delete them as well. they probably won't do this but mistakes happen. just think of that account as a temporary file drop sort of thing and you'll be fine, though.

as for clients: since you're on a Mac, use Transmit. not free (though there is a trial) but is quite nice and easy to use. I also use FileZilla on occasion.
posted by mrg at 4:36 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, re: FTP clients, try FileZilla. I started using that after Cyberduck became interminably painful to use (wouldn't reliably connect to anything) for some reason.
posted by limeonaire at 8:23 PM on August 15, 2013

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