How to Recreate Dreamweaver CS4 Files on a New Computer after Your Old Computer Dies — by Downloading Your Website Files from the Host Server

© 2012 Peter Free


11 January 2012



Introduction to this revision


Today, I updated the original “how to” page on this subject that I had originally posted in 2010.


This revision followed my use of FileZilla’s latest version (3.5.3).



Why I wrote this


After my old computer fried (in 2010), and I couldn’t recover Dreamweaver, I found that most of the information on the Internet regarding recreating Dreamweaver files was not helpful.


Much of the advice was in jargon, apparently intended for people who would not have had to ask the question in the first place.  A great deal was unnecessarily complex.  And some sets of instructions did not look like they would work, unless I had access to Dreamweaver’s .ste backup files.


What follows worked for me.  There are probably more efficient ways to do the same thing.



If your website is still intact, recreating Dreamweaver CS4 files on a new computer is not so hard


These instructions for recreating Dreamweaver files assume that:


You used Dreamweaver CS4 to create your website.


The computer Dreamweaver was on died and can’t be fixed.


You do not have access to previously made Dreamweaver backup files (those with .ste file names) on either the old computer’s C drive or an external drive.


But your website is still functioning properly.


And you can administratively access your website’s files on the host server.


(The following instructions may also work to copy Dreamweaver files that were rescued from your old computer’s C drive.)



What to do in general terms


You will create a new website in your new computer’s Dreamweaver by going to Site|New Site (meaning click on Site and then choose New Site) and filling in the website name and server boxes just as you did when you created the original website.  This part is easy and takes only a few minutes.


Then you will copy downloaded files from your website into Dreamweaver CS4 Local Files panel.


The only thing you will be doing from scratch in Dreamweaver is making it create a new site.  You will use your existing website name and your host server connection information.


Then you will drag downloaded website files from the appropriate folders listed on the right side of FileZilla’s screen to the one you just created on the left.  This will “magically” recreate clones of the host server’s files in Dreamweaver’s Local Files pane.



Step by step — configuring Dreamweaver — making a “new” site to recreate the lost one


Install Dreamweaver into your new computer.


Click on Site.


Click on New Site.


Choose the Basic tab.


Enter the name of your website.


Enter its URL address.


Click Next.


Select “No, I do not want to use a server technology.”


Click Next.


Select “Edit local copies on my machine, then upload to server when ready . . . .”


Enter the location you want the local files stored.  I was satisfied with Dreamweaver’s suggested, “C:\Users\Peter\Documents\ . . . .”


Click Next.


Fill in the website server information on this page.  It begins by asking, “How do you connect to your remote server?”


In my case this is FTP. 


You received all this information when you signed up with your host.   It may still be fresh in your memory, if you use a third party search engine that requires it each time you upload index files to the website.


The most difficult part of this for me has always been deciding which of folders my host wants me to put uploaded files in.  Some hosts do a good job of explicitly giving you the name.  Others leave you to guess.


For one of my websites, I had to go to my section of the host server’s “file manager” and look into each to be sure which folder was appropriate.  You will recognize the files in the correct folder because they will have names that you recall having created with Dreamweaver (prior to the death of the old computer).


However, you may have to guess at how much of the folder name to put in Dreamweaver’s box.  Trial and error characterized my efforts, when initially learning to do this.


In most cases, leave the “Use secure FTP (SFTP)” box unchecked.


Click “Test Connection.”


If you connect successfully, click Next.


If you did not connect, some of the information you entered is wrong.  It’s best to go back to the activation email that your received from your website host to verify exact language.


Select “No, do not enable check in and out.”


Click Next.


Read the summary page and click Done.


That is the only work from scratch that you will need to do in Dreamweaver.



Step by step — downloading your website’s Dreamweaver-created files to the “new” site


Most likely, you will need a program to download your website’s FTP files to your computer.  Several of these are free.  I used FileZilla version 3.5.3.


Download and install FileZilla.


Open FileZilla.


Notice that there are two panes: “Local site” and “Remote site.”


Click on File|Site Manager.


Click on New Site.


Enter a name for your website.


The name does not matter because you will not be putting it in Dreamweaver.


Fill in the information under the General tab on the same page.  This identifies your website’s server and provides your password to get into it.


Click Connect.


FileZilla’s “Remote site” pane has a Filename box below it.  These are both on the right hand side of the screen.  These boxes will rapidly fill with existing files that are being downloaded from your website host’s server.


Scroll down through these files to find the (host server) filename that you upload Dreamweaver files to.


This is the same filename that you entered in Dreamweaver “What folder on the server do you want to store your files in?”


Double click it to open it.


You will probably not be able to select all the folders and files for transfer in one swoop because there will be cumulatively too many bytes of data to transfer all at once.


Instead, select individual folders, like “Pictures” and “Spry Assets” and “Templates.”


Now you need to drag these folders into the appropriate C drive folder which should be listed on the left side FileZilla panel that is named “Local site|Filename.”


In my case, I stored the website folders (that Dreamweaver uses) by name under Windows’ “Documents” folder.  So, if you did the same, your new (recreated) C-drive website folder should already be there.


Drag the selected folders over to the website file on FileZilla’s “Local site/Filename” side.


When you do this, if Dreamweaver is already open and on the proper “site,” you will see the recreated filenames “magically” appear in its “Local Files” pane (on the right side of the Dreamweaver screen).


Unlike the above the more data dense picture, spry assets, and template folders, I was able to select all my 200+ html files and transfer them all at once.


If Dreamweaver is not yet open, open it.



Pay attention, when uploading/putting the copied files to the host server


What follows is for people who have repeatedly experienced the validity of Murphy’s Law — “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”


Most normally optimistic people can skip this section.  It presupposes that electronic gremlins might have altered FileZilla’s downloaded files between the downloading and uploading steps.


That’s probably unlikely.


But given the (unexaggerated) disasters that I have witnessed, even with professionally maintained IT systems, I am always cautious.  Especially, when I’m the idiot doing the work.


First, recall that Dreamweaver considers everything you copied into its newly created (meaning re-created) site to be new.  This means that Dreamweaver’s Synchronize Sitewide command is going to want to upload (“put”) every one of the cloned files.


But we are not yet sure that these clones really are identical to what we thought we downloaded (with FileZilla) from the host server.


So, you will have to select “ignore” for every file that you do not want Dreamweaver to upload.  Alternatively, you can mark files as “already synchronized,” but then it becomes problematic whether you can remember which ones you marked that way.


Conveniently, the files you just stuck into Dreamweaver are already on your website’s host server.  So, you can make test uploads (“puts”) to ensure that the cloning process went properly.



Test your newly created Dreamweaver site and your copied files by uploading a simple page


You can now do a few individual test uploads of different files and folders.  That way you will potentially ruin only a limited number of pages on your website, if something was not properly recreated.


Begin your test with files, folders, or individual pictures that are easy to recreate from scratch.  You don’t want to wreck complex pages that it took hours or days to make.  Especially, avoid using large picture files, spry assets, and templates as your initial tests.


You can kill three birds with one stone, if one of your copied HTML pages contains a picture, links to third-party URLs, and has very little text.


To begin this comparison between what should be cloned pages, open the existing (host server) Internet website page in your browser (Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.).


Then, upload the simple Dreamweaver page.


You can compare the two supposed clones by using the back button in your browser or by opening the page with a second browser.


Of course, the pages should be the same because the test page was downloaded from the host server and then uploaded back.


If something is different between the two pages, you will have to backtrack to figure out how that happened.



Test a couple more pages to be sure, eventually escalating to a complex page


When I was satisfied that two simple pages had uploaded properly and were indeed clones, I uploaded a complex page with footnotes and numerous internal and external links.



A more demanding test is — making a test page from scratch by using whichever templates originally existed on your website


I generally use just one template for all my pages.  It contains a photo logo and left column links (Spry Assets).


If you had a similar template on your host server, creating a new page from it and uploading the result will provide a good test of the functionality of your recreation of Dreamweaver’s original files.


Create new content from the template.  The goal is to see if the template still works the way it used to.  The only way to tell is to create a page that does not already exist on the host server.


Keep the new page simple.  If you don’t link to it from any other pages, no one will ever see it.  Upload it.


After uploading the page, enter its URL in your Internet browser.  Check to see that the new page appears as you intended.  If everything looks okay, then you know that your cloned template is working properly.



The most crucial tests — uploading cloned Pictures and Spry Assets folders


So far, you have not done anything to wreck your Pictures and Spry Assets files on the host server.  The test pages that you uploaded contained links to these folders, which were/are already on the host server.


Spry Assets, especially, affect every page on your website.  A screw-up in the cloning process for them can be painfully time-consuming to fix.  The same is true for websites that contain numerous photographs.


You could leave these files alone by tagging them “already synchronized” under the Synchronize Sitewide command.  The problem with that solution is that you still don’t know if they were scrambled in the process of cloning.  There is no point, in my view, of having a questionable master file on Dreamweaver.


So, I prefer to ensure that templates, Spry Assets, and picture files have all been correctly cloned by testing them the same way I did smaller-sized files.


Begin your test by choosing the least complex of these “master” files.  For example, I uploaded one of my websites’ small pictures folder before I tackled larger files.


If you do the same thing, click on some pages that have photos to make sure the newly uploaded master picture file duplicated what was already there.


If the photographs work, do the same process with your Spry Assets folder.


Then check that the website page actually works the way you intended.



That’s all there is to it


My deep appreciation to Tim Kosse, who created FileZilla.


I sent him a PayPal donation in 2010, when I used this process for the first time.  If you use his software, I hope you make a donation, too.