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Information Technology

Web Site Building Guide

Basic information you will need to create and manage a UMass Web site is provided below.

Web Authoring & Management Software

To create and manage your Web site, you need at least two types of software, an SFTP program (to activate your Web space and upload your files) and a Web authoring program to edit site content.

You may need other programs to create non-HTML content for your Web site, including imaging programs (e.g., Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator), PDF authoring software (e.g., Adobe Acrobat), and media editing software, (e.g., Apple GarageBand or Windows MovieMaker, etc.).

Activate Your Web Space

Your personal or course Web space will be automatically activated the first time you access Use an SFTP or SSH program and your Personal or Course IT Account NetID and password to log in:

Personal & Course Web Site Addresses (URLs)

  • URLs for Personal Web sites are where username is your IT Account NetID.
  • URLs for Course Web sites are where courseusername is the respective Course IT Account NetID.
    Note: Course IT Accounts are created by instructors in SPIRE, see our Create & Manage Course IT Accounts page for more information.

Web Site Files & Directory Structure

  • Your Web site must always have an index.html file. This is the default file visitors will see when they access your Web site. If this file is not present, an error message will be displayed instead. Your Web hosting space has a default index.html file that IT has provided as a placeholder. You can replace this file with one of your own creation.
  • Remember to upload all the images, documents and files used in your site. You must upload all of the files you use to build your Web site from your computer to the server. If you do not, your links will not work properly and your images will not be displayed, etc..
  • The IT Web hosting server is case sensitive. Always use lower case when naming Web site files and directories to avoid errors.

Password-Protect a File or Directory on the Server

To password-protect content on your or Web site, you'll need to use htaccess files. To learn how to create these files, see our tutorial on how to Password-Protect a Web Directory.

Check Your Web Space Storage Quota

You should keep your Web hosting space free of clutter to avoid file management errors. To see how much space you have available on the server, go to and log in using your IT Account NetID and password. Your current usage will be listed under Disk Quota.

Back Up Your Web Site Data

People in charge of official UMass Web sites are responsible for backing up their Web site content to prevent potential damage or loss. Use SFTP software to download and store files on your computer or on other media (e.g., an external hard drive, flash drive or disk).

IT backs up Web hosting data every evening. In the event of a computer failure, it is possible to recover information stored on the campus Web servers at the time of the last backup, with some caveats:

  • If you create or modify a file after an evening's backup, and you delete the same file before the next day's backup, your file will be lost.
  • Files stored during a system backup are only recoverable within the next 7 days.
  • IT cannot guarantee that all information will be recovered. Occasional problems in the backup process may result in data loss.

Web Site Alternatives

  • Blogs at UMass Amherst: You have a blog ready and waiting for you! You can use the Blogs at UMass Amherst service as a quick, easy-to-build, and easy-to-maintain Web site.
  • Moodle: Instead of building a course Web site from scratch, instructors may want to consider using Moodle for their course. Moodle features functionality that is beyond what a regular Web site can offer and is a password-protected environment.