In a wp blog, what is FTP-accessible and what isn't?

Hi, I am planning on putting a Wordpress blog up on its own subdomain at my domain (say hosted by Dreamhost. So it will be at

I will be writing blog posts offline and then uploading them, and I would like to keep a copy of the whole blog on a USB stick as well as online. This will be my first blog, but I am familiar with using both FTP and SFTP. They are what I use at the moment to run my DH-hosted website.

As I understand it, a blog consists of exactly three sets of items:

]a theme (basically a UI)
If I’m wrong about that, please can someone tell me!

Ideally I would like to be able to access the whole blog using FTP. Then I would keep my own copy on a USB stick, change and delete and test whatever I want, write new posts, etc., maybe delete what I wrote or change it to something else, or whatever, and then FTP the up-to-date blog (or more exactly, whatever was new) to, perhaps every day or basically whenever I feel like it.

Is that possible?

I’d also like to be able to back-download the whole thing including comments, and save that on top of what was already there on my stick.

Please can someone tell me what exact components of the blog I can run like that (publishing, amending, uploading and downloading, all using FTP), and what exact components I can’t access using FTP and will only be able to access using myphpadmin.

Excuse my ignorance, but when people refer to the blog’s database, I’m not sure exactly what that contains.

(If the only components of the blog that are not accessible using FTP are the comments, then I won’t necessarily have to use myphpadmin to access them, because I think there’s a facility for getting them by email, so I can set up an email address to receive them and then sort them into a folder for accepted and a folder for not accepted. That may be OK for my purposes. Again, please can someone tell me if I’m barking up the wrong tree here!)

Many thanks in advance for any help with this.

Kind regards,


The only parts of a WordPress site that are stored as files (and are thus accessible over FTP) are:

[] The PHP files that make up WordPress.
] The files for any themes and plugins you have installed.
[*] Files that are uploaded as attachments to posts.

Everything else is in the database. Posts and pages, comments, configuration, etc. Basically, most of the important stuff that gets updated frequently. So making a copy of your site’s files over FTP isn’t going to work the way you’re hoping… sorry. :frowning:

Basically, WordPress is designed to be used interactively — you log into the WordPress admin panel to make posts on the “live” site. If you’ve got a workflow that doesn’t allow you to be online all the time, your best bet will be to draft posts on a local WordPress site, or using some other tool, then post them to the live WordPress site when you can get online. Don’t try to edit the database directly using phpMyAdmin; that won’t work well.

Thanks for this! While I’m digesting it, can I come at this from the other end and ask a simpler question: how can I get a copy of the entire blog onto my USB stick, so that I can actually read it as a blog? (I am envisaging having to have old posts and comments at my fingertips in order to write new posts.) Do I have to use FTP to copy the files and phpMyAdmin to copy the database? Surely there must be a way to store a copy of the database offline but what I don’t understand is what form is it stored in if not as files?

Thanks again!


WordPress uses PHP and MySQL, so unless you have some sort of WAMP or LAMP setup on your computer, you wouldn’t be able to make use of the files and database on a USB stick anyway.

Is there a reason you have to have a local copy of everything? If internet access is an issue, you can always write in a text editor and then copy and paste.

It is a file—a database file. (A MySQL database file, to be exact.) As indicated, unless you have a program (WAMP or LAMP) that can access that database file, having a local copy of the file does you no good.

Thanks, kjodle. As I said, I’d like to have all posts and comments available offline when I’m writing blog posts. It sounds quite simple to install say XAMPP on a USB stick. XAMPP is portable and contains MySQL and PHP.

What program or type of program should I use to save the database on the same stick? (Got to admit, I still don’t understand why this can’t be done using FTP, unless Dreamhost - and maybe other ISPs too - have specifically decided not to allow that. After all, it’s only a computer file with a given pathname. But I may well be missing something.)

Using a text editor alone won’t be sufficient, because some of my posts will contain images etc., but I think I will be all right if I

[]compose and check posts offline (the writing and polishing of them taking quite a while)
]upload them later using the interactive software (or XAMPP if it can do that)
[]check that everything’s OK online (this step and the previous one only taking only a short time)
]and then download the whole blog every so often.

Thanks again!


PS Surely there must be other people who do it this way? :slight_smile:

Possibly, but why make things far more difficult than they need to be? Your workflow is like trying to heat a frozen burrito with a nuclear accelerator. :wink:

I have written posts in a text editor, and then copied and pasted online, and then added images online. WordPress is really designed to be used online.

If you add images offline, they are stored locally, the path to them stored in the database will be the local path, and they will not be available to your users. If you upload them, you will then need to re-edit your post so that the image links point to the online files, rather than the offline files.

Again, this is needlessly complex. It is much simpler to just write online, adding images as you go, or to write offline in a text editor, and then copy and paste and add images once you are online again.

XAMPP is for local use of Apache, MySQL, and PHP. It is not an FTP client.

I have no idea why you feel this is necessary. If you want to backup your site (and you should—that’s a good instinct to have), there are plugins available to do this. I like Mika’s DreamObjects Backups which makes backups on a regular basis and drops them right into one of my DreamObjects buckets.

I agree 100% with Kjodle.

Once you start working with wordpress you too will understand.

Yes you SHOULD keep a backup of your site. That could happen several ways, even one of them being to the usb stick you seem to want to keep a copy of the blog on, that backup is not a working copy tho, its a backup.

Wordpress is not designed to work with online and offline databases that sometimes synchronize with each other. The methods you suggest simply won’t work. You can’t replace the online database without losing content (comments), and your offline database will never be up to date in terms of comments.

OK, I’m listening to what you’re all saying :slight_smile:

kjodle: my blog won’t be image-heavy, so uploading the images at the same time as I upload text containing absolute URLs won’t take long and I’ll be fine with doing it like that.

Why I will need to download the whole blog every so often is because to compose new posts, which I will take a lot of time over and will do offline (and it’s just in my nature to keep polishing them), I need the old posts and comments to hand. I am expecting some of the comments to be well thought-out and substantial. This won’t be a ‘diary’ blog; it’ll be far closer to an academic work, or much of it will be.

What’s the best way to get a copy of the blog to my USB stick so that it’s accessible using XAMPP installed on the same stick?

I don’t need to go as far as having online and offline databases that update each other.

Thanks for all of your help. You are helping me slowly get towards where I want to be :slight_smile:


Are you going to be someplace doing this work offline? or better stated, where you can’t work online?

If that’s the case I would just open what you need in a browser and save the page. Otherwise I would just use the live blog, not a local copy. Did you know you can save ‘drafts’ that won’t be seen publically until published?

Local copies are great for experimentation, more often for themes and plug-ins than posts. However, even then because the server configurations are not identical (by nature) all you can do is test the concept.

Many people DO keep a second secret test copy of wordpress installed on a different sub-domain. I keep my test copy hidden by requiring valid-user via htaccess, which also keeps google and other search engines from indexing that test content. That’s how I play with things like themes and plugins before making them live, maybe that’s what you really want to do. This is a better way than local copy, because like I said above you will never get your local and dreamhost server configurations to match exactly. Even so, moving between the two of them is a manual process i.e. copy paste for content, or ftp for files. (other than image files, theme files and plugin files there is not much you need to worry about file wise, because of worpress updates you shouldn’t modify anything outside of the image, plugins and themes directories.)


Thanks, but do you know how to download a blog as a whole so that I’ve got a copy on a USB stick? I think this is my main sticking-point at the moment. I don’t think I’m going to have much problem installing either WP or XAMPP, which contains MySQL and phpMyAdmin, on the stick.

Last, are you saying an old version of WP, such as one I might have installed on a USB stick, might not be able to read an up-to-date blog I’ve just downloaded?

You can do it on a USB stick. I’ve put MAMP on one before :slight_smile:

Your old version may not be able to read the blog, depending on DB settings and plugin/theme changes.

No, from phpMyAdmin, click the Export tab.
From there you can design how to create a downloadable version of the database in the form of a single text file.

This process can take some time, depending on the size of your database. it will contain all your posts and categories, as well as the descriptions of all the tables and metadata for the site.

this should help some:

what your asking is technically possible,
steps would be:

  1. get xampp configured and running on usb stick.
  2. backup/export your database from pma
  3. ‘restore’ your database to the stick, (instead of to your live server)
  4. edit any wp config in pma to match new install
  5. ftp your site to the stick

But, once you write posts on stick, how to you get them back to live server??
rebuilding and re-configuring the database for each new post isn’t really feasible.

So far, best suggestion is to just save pages you want to reference, and use normal text editor to write drafts in.