How to Transfer Your Dreamweaver Files to a New Computer

Without Having to Redo Everything

How to Move Your Dreamweaver Files to a New Computer

by Christopher Heng,

I occasionally get visitors telling me that they have upgraded their computer and want to transfer their website files, created using Dreamweaver, from their old system to the new one. They asked if this was possible and if so, how they could accomplish it. This article answers that question.


Obviously, for this tutorial to have any relevance for you, you must have already created and published a website using Dreamweaver. For those who have arrived at this article hoping to find a basic Dreamweaver tutorial, please proceed to the main Dreamweaver Tutorial instead. In fact, if you are new to creating a website, you should probably start with the article How to Make / Create a Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide.

Steps to Take on Your Old Computer

  1. The first thing you need to do is to start up your old computer and locate the folder where you previously saved your website files.

    For those who have forgotten its location, start up Dreamweaver and invoke the Site Manager. That is, click "Site | Manage Sites". If you will remember from my Dreamweaver tutorial series, this means to click the "Site" menu, followed by the "Manage Sites" item in the menu that appears. In the dialog box that appears, make sure that the website you want to move is selected in the list box on the left, then click the "Edit" button. The old "Site Definition" dialog box should appear. Click the "Advanced" tab at the top. On the right side of the dialog box, look for the "Local root folder" field, which should contain the folder where you previously saved your web pages.

  2. Let's say that you have previously kept your files in a folder called "thesitewizard" on your Desktop. This is the folder you want to copy, in its entirety, to your new computer. Attach an external drive such as a USB flash/thumb drive or an external USB hard disk to your computer, and copy the folder there. That is, just drag the whole "thesitewizard" folder (or whatever you actually called it) to that drive.

    (Another way is to burn the files to a blank CD or DVD using a DVD or CD burning program. But it's generally much faster and easier to just drag your folder to a flash/thumb drive or an external hard disk.)

  3. Start up Dreamweaver on your old computer (if you've not already done it). Invoke the Site Manager with "Site | Manage Sites" from the menu (see the box above if you don't know what "Site | Manage Sites" means). Select the site you want to transfer in the left list box by clicking it once. If you have only one website, that site should already be selected.

    Click the "Export..." button. A dialog box with a title "Exporting site" (followed by your site name) will appear. Make sure that the radio box for "Back up my settings (includes login, password, and local paths)." is selected, and click the "OK" button.

    In the "Export Site" dialog box that follows, locate your USB thumb drive or external hard disk. By default, Dreamweaver will set the filename of your exported settings to the name of your site followed by a ".ste" extension. For example, if you named your site "The Site Wizard", the suggested filename will be "The Site Wizard.ste". I recommend that you leave the filename to the name Dreamweaver suggests, unless you have some special reason to want to change it. You should probably leave the extension set as ".ste" so that Dreamweaver recognizes it on your new computer as a site definition file. Memorize the name (or write it down somewhere) so that you can find it later, and click the "Save" button.

    (Note that the file name is not important; you'll only need this file temporarily to transfer your settings and site definition to the new computer, so don't spend an inordinate amount of time mulling over a filename.)

Steps to Take on Your New Computer

After you have set up Dreamweaver on your new computer, do the following.

  1. Attach your external drive (be it a flash/thumb drive or a hard disk) to the computer. Drag your website folder from that drive to a location of your choice on your new computer. If you don't know where on your new computer to put it, just drag the folder onto your Desktop.

  2. Start up Dreamweaver.

  3. Click the "Site | Manage Sites..." menu item.

  4. The Site Manager should appear. Since this is the first time you're starting the Site Manager on this new computer, the list of sites you normally see on the left side of the box should be empty. Click the "Import..." button.

  5. The "Import Site" dialog box will appear. Locate the site definition file that you exported earlier (the one with the ".ste" extension that I told you to memorize or note down earlier), click it once to select it, and click the "Open" button.

  6. You will probably get another dialog box immediately after you do that. This dialog box will have a title of "Choose local root folder for site [your-site-name]", where "[your-site-name]" is the name of your site. Locate the folder that you just copied to your computer. If you followed my suggestion above, it should be on your desktop. (Important: I'm referring to the folder you just copied onto your Desktop, not the temporary copy on your USB flash drive.) Click it once to select it, then click the "Open" (or "Select") button. It's possible that Dreamweaver will open the folder instead of selecting it, and present you with another dialog box with a "Select" button. Just click the "Select" button this second time round.

  7. You will then be returned to the Manage Sites dialog box, with your website listed on the left.

    Click the "Edit" button to invoke the Site Definition and browse through all the settings to make sure that everything was carried over correctly. That is, just click the Next button and read each screen. Pay special attention to the window that says "Editing Files, Part 3" with the question "Where on your computer do you want to store your files?". Make sure that the folder in the field below is correct. If it is not, manually enter the correct folder. In some situations, I noticed that Dreamweaver does not record the correct folder name. For example, if your local web folder is supposed to be "c:\Users\chris\Desktop\thesitewizard\", Dreamweaver may record it as "c:\Users\chris\Desktop\", that is, wrongly omitting the final folder in the path (ie, location). If this is true for you, just append the missing folder name ("thesitewizard" in my case, yours will be different) followed by a final backslash ("\") to the existing text already there.

    Continue to click the "Next" button, checking all the settings, until you reach the window with the "Done" button. Click it. Dreamweaver will then update all your site files and settings before returning you to the Site Manager screen again. Click "Done".

  8. If you have set the folder name correctly, you should be able to see your website files listed in the FILES panel in the bottom right column of the Dreamweaver window. (You may have to click the "+" beside your site name in that panel to expand the list of files.)

    If you don't see your web pages there, but either see an empty list or a list of files not belonging to your website (like all your desktop icons and shortcuts), the folder name was probably not entered correctly. Invoke the Site Manager again, click the "Edit" button, followed by the "Next" button until you get to the window with the folder name, and fix it there. When you're done, remember that you must click the "Next" button till you reach the last screen, followed by the "Done" button after that. (That is, do not dismiss the Site Manager by hitting the ESC key or the "X" close button on the top of the dialog box, or you may lose the changes you've made.)

Once you've done the above, you should be able to work on your web pages as you did previously on your old computer, without having to redo anything. In fact, the state of your files should be exactly as it was when you last left your previous machine.

Copyright © 2009-2017 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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