How do I edit my website ftp files?

My sister has a website which was developed by a third party and any changes she requires has to be done by them, which is becoming quite costly.  Is there a way we can edit the ftp files ourselves when small changes need to be done?

We have the ftp log on/user name etc in IE but are unable to open the files to edit?

Does she need to purchase a software programme?

Any advise greatly appreciated for two novices


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what you can do is use the FTP software, download a copy of the files, edit the files on your system and copy only the ones you changed back up

filezilla is a good ftp program and its free

make sure you backup your original files first,

so if your replacing index.html, on the server rename it index.<DATE>.old or something of the sort.

You never want to edit anything live.

This can be tricky depending on your level of expertise.

Do you know what language the site was built in? Pure xhtml, asp or PHP?

Also, many times, web developers build your web site using a set of pre-built, shared templates that run on their server. If you do not have full access to all of these templates, then modifying the site could prove difficult.

However, having said that.. let's assume that the full code for your site is there, and is built with either ASP or PHP. In this case you will need to do the following:

1) Download a good quality site editor. I recommend that you download the trial version of Adobe Dreamweaver (
2) Use Dreamweaver (DW) to create the FTP connection to your site and a local copy of the site on your computer.
3) Copy the pages from the FTP (web server) to your local computer using DW.
4) Open the page you want to modify in DW and make the needed changes.
5) Save and upload the page back to the live server.

Now, all of the above assumes that the modifying that you want to do is simple, and that you actually know how to modify the page using the code or an editor.

If you need more specifics, please give more information about what exactly you are trying to modify, and your comfort level/experience in doing it.. then we can talk more.

Remember, doing high quality web design/coding is not nearly as easy as it appears. It takes professionals years to learn their skill well. Sometimes.. it might be less of a headache and less expensive in the long run if you pay a professional to do it. However, if you have a simple site, and you just need to make some simple changes, then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to do it.

Best of luck!

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somanyquestionsAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for your answers.  My sis purhcased a licence from SmartFTP and has done some changes herself which seem fine.  

I agree with gtin that for anything major she should go back to her designer which she will, as realises (after seeing the ftp files) that it sure aint as simple as she thought!

Thank you for all your advice
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