How to Delete a Web Page from Your Website

Removing an Already Uploaded File

How to Delete a Web Page from Your Website: Removing an Already Uploaded File

by Christopher Heng,

While it's obvious how you can create a new web page, the same cannot be said about removing one that you've already designed and uploaded to your site. Or at least, it's usually not obvious to newcomers. Since visitors sometimes ask me how this is done, this article delves into how an unwanted web page on your website can be deleted. Note that you can make use of the procedure given in this article no matter which web editor you happen to use.

If, having read the above paragraph, you want to protest, "But it's not obvious how I can create a web page!", then you should start by reading How to Create / Make a Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide instead of this article.

For Dreamweaver Users

If you don't use the Dreamweaver web editor, please skip to the next section (below).

Dreamweaver users have it easy. You actually don't have to do anything special to delete an already published file. The web editor automatically manages it for you when you synchronize the local copy of your website with the real online version. (Site synchronization using Dreamweaver is taught in chapter 7 of the Dreamweaver tutorial.)

To put it another way, if you don't want a page that you've already published, simply delete the copy of that page on your computer. When you next use the "Site | Synchronize Sitewide..." menu item in Dreamweaver, and choose "Put newer files to remote", Dreamweaver will automatically notice that your online site has an extra file that you've already deleted on your computer and give you the option to delete it.

That's it.

(Dreamweaver users: in case you're wondering, you don't have to read the next part. Just skip to the last section for a final tip.)

For Users of Other Web Editors like BlueGriffon, KompoZer, Nvu, etc

Although KompoZer 0.7.10 has a rudimentary site manager of sorts, it doesn't do most of the things done automatically by Dreamweaver. The same goes for earlier versions of Kompozer, that is, Nvu and Mozilla Composer. And BlueGriffon doesn't have a site manager at all, or at least not in the free version. But don't worry. It's still very easy to delete a file you've uploaded.

What you will need is a computer program called an "FTP client". If you don't already have one, you can find a number of them located on the Free FTP Clients, Secure FTP (SFTP) Programs page.

Since different FTP clients have different methods of erasing a file and it's difficult (and very tedious) for me to cover every possible FTP program in existence, this tutorial will only focus on how you can do this using FileZilla. This is one of the free FTP programs listed on the page mentioned earlier. Note that I merely picked it randomly from that list, so if you prefer, you can always use some other FTP client. The general idea of what to do in order to get rid of a file is probably the same for all FTP clients: that is, connect to your website with the program, find the file you want removed, click it, and hit the delete key.

Anyway, the step by step guide for using FileZilla is given below.

  1. After you've installed Filezilla, start it.

  2. If you are greeted with a dialog box asking you to report any bug you find, just click the "OK" button. If you don't see this dialog box, don't worry. Just move on to the next step.

  3. At the top of the FileZilla window, you will see a line that says "Host:", "Username:", "Password:" and "Port:". You will need to enter the information relevant to your website in these 4 fields.

    Enter your website's FTP server hostname into the "Host" field. To find out what your FTP server name is, either ask your web host or look into the email that your web host gave to you when you signed up with them. Some web hosts call this the "FTP server name" or something like that. Very often, if your website's domain is called "", your FTP hostname is "", but this is by no means guaranteed. Different web hosts have different methods of giving you FTP access, so don't just make a guess and type some random name here. It won't work. If you can't find the information yourself from your web host's email or online documentation, ask them. Note: do NOT type "http://" or "ftp://" or anything preceding your hostname. Just type the FTP host name by itself.

    The "Username" and "Password" is the FTP user login name and password that is supplied to you by your web host. Again, if you don't know what these are, ask your web host. There's no way anyone else can tell you what they are.

    Enter "21" (without the quotes) into the "Port" field. (The only time you should enter a different number into this field is if your web host specifically tells you to use a different FTP port. This is so rare that most people should be typing "21" here.) I think FileZilla defaults to using 21 if you forget to type anything into this field, so you may not even need to fill it in. If in doubt, just type it in.

  4. Click the "Quickconnect" button.

  5. A series of messages will appear in the top part of the FileZilla window. As a beginner, you can ignore them. If you have entered all your site's particulars correctly earlier, you will be successfully connected to your website, and the right panel underneath the list of messages should show a directory listing of all the files and folders on your website.

  6. Locate the file you want to delete. If you cannot immediately spot it in the right panel after scrolling up and down, see if you can find a folder called "www" or "public_html". If so, doubleclick that folder to open it. If you see both "www" and "public_html", you can probably doubleclick any of them, since one of those names is probably just an alias for the other. If you see neither, and cannot find the file you want on your own, ask your web host for help.

  7. When you've located the file you want to remove, click it once to select it. Then click the right mouse button while your mouse pointer is hovering over the file. A menu will appear. Click the "Delete" item in that menu.

  8. A dialog box, with a title of "Confirmation needed" and a message of "Really delete 1 file?", will appear. Click the "Yes" button if you want to really want delete the file. FileZilla will then proceed to erase the file.

  9. Finally, click the "Server" menu at the top of the FileZilla menu. In the menu that appears, click the "Disconnect" line.

Now that your file has been removed, try to load that page in your web browser by typing the web address to that file. You should get a 404 File Not Found error. If you instead still see the page you've supposedly deleted earlier, try clicking the "Reload" or "Refresh" button in your web browser. You could be seeing an old copy of your web page cached by your browser.

If after reloading, you still see the file, use another web browser that you don't normally use to test that web address. For example, use Firefox (if that's not already your default browser). You'll want to do this to make sure you're not really seeing a cached copy of the page. The "Refresh" / "Reload" button doesn't seem to always force a reload of the page in some browsers (notably Internet Explorer, or at least, older versions of it).

After doing all this, if you continue to get your old page instead of a 404 error, you'll have to consider other possibilities. You may have multiple copies of the file stashed on your website, and have only deleted one of them. Alternatively, you may have deleted the wrong file. Or you may be accessing your site through a proxy server and your proxy has cached a copy of the old page. (Some Internet providers do this in a manner transparent to you, so you may not realize that you're surfing through a proxy.) To make sure that you haven't made a mistake in deleting your file, connect back to your site with FileZilla and thoroughly go through folder by folder to make sure that the file is well and truly gone. There's not much you can do in the case of the use of a proxy except to wait till the next day and hope that the proxy will load your page directly instead of serving it from its cache.

Oops! I've Changed My Mind...

Once you've deleted the file from your server, chances are that it's gone with no hope of recovery. Remember that this deletion is taking place on your web host's computer, and not your own. If you have a change of heart, you can't even resort to using one of those undelete utilities to resurrect your file.

As such, for the sake of your own sanity and health, if you think you may regret the file removal at some point in the future, make a backup of the file somewhere before you do your deleting. For example, create a folder called "obsolete web pages" on your computer and put a copy of your soon-to-be-deleted file there for safekeeping. You can always purge that folder after a period of time when you are really sure that you no longer need its contents. To use an old cliché, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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