Contents of Your Home Directory

When your DowntownHost account is activated we assign space for you on one of our servers and configure the web, ftp and email servers to use the files in this space. This space is your home directory, and is where your web site files and other items are stored.

Your home directory also holds many of the configuration files for your site. Whenever you SSH or FTP into your account, you will be initially placed in your home directory. Initially you will see only a handful of files in your home directory but these will grow over time and as you use more features of your account.

Generally speaking you will be most concerned with two directories in particular:  public_ftp and public_html.  These directories are the 'root directory' for your FTP and HTTP [i.e. web] servers, respectively. It is important to quickly grasp the relationship between files placed in these directories, and how they will be accessed by visitors to your site.

The two primary methods people will be accessing your site are through HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) and FTP (file transfer protocol).. You have encountered these before in URL's (web address) in your browser, written like this in the address bar:


The directories 'public_ftp' and 'public_html' , each point to the top-level directory for files to be accessed through FTP and HTTP respectively.

To illustrate - when a visitor to your site points their browser to: - they will receive the file 'index.html' from the directory 'public_html' in your home directory - would serve up the file '' from the directory 'pub'; itself a sub directory of your public_ftp directory

For security purposes, no one can directly access any files that are in your home directory using their browser.  The 'highest' they can access is one of the two sub directories [public_html or public_ftp] This is known as the servers being 'rooted' in those directories.

example: The HTTP server is rooted in your public_html directory; the ftp server is rooted in your public_ftp directory. If you imagine the layout of the directories and sub directories beneath each of these two main directories as being like the branches of a tree, splitting off and branching into many sub directories, it becomes easy to see why the term 'root' directory makes sense here

This being the case, it means you can leave private and work-in-progress files in your home directory itself without them being accessible publicly, which is useful when creating password files for web pages, databases of credit card orders, and other sensitive information.

When you log into your account through SSH or FTP (MS Front Page does not give you access to your home directory) you will be located in your home directory. Take note of this, as files uploaded directly into your home directory will not be available to anyone but yourself over the internet - instead they must be placed in the public_html or public_ftp directories.

Depending on the specific method you use to access your home directory you will see a third directory called 'www'.  The 'www' is not its own directory, rather it is a link to your public_html directory.  Please note the www directory is not a duplicate of your public_html directory and occupies none of your quota of space on the server. Please do not delete it or otherwise alter it, or several aspects of your web site may cease to function.

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