FTP (File Transfer
Protocol) is the simplest and most secure way to exchange files over the
Internet. Whether you know it or not, you most likely use FTP all
The most common use for FTP is to
download files from the Internet. Because of this, FTP is the
backbone of the MP3 music craze, and vital
to most online auction and game enthusiasts. In addition, the
ability to transfer files back-and-forth makes FTP essential for anyone
creating a Web page, amateurs and professionals alike.
When downloading a file from the Internet
you're actually transferring the file to your computer from another
computer over the Internet. This is why the T (transfer) is in
FTP. You may not know where the computer is that the file is coming from
but you most likely know it's URL or
A FTP address looks a lot like a HTTP,
or Website, address except it uses the prefix ftp:// instead of http://.
Most often, a computer with an FTP
address is dedicated to receive an FTP connection. Just as a
computer that is setup to host Web pages is referred to as a Web server
or Website, a computer dedicated to receiving an FTP connection is
referred to as an FTP server or FTP site.
A FTP site is like a large filing cabinet. With a traditional
filing cabinet, the person who does the filing has the option to label
and organize the files how ever they see fit. They also decide
which files to keep locked and which remain public. It is the same
with an FTP site.
The virtual 'key' to get into an
FTP site is the UserID and Password. If the
creator of the FTP site is willing to give everyone access to the files,
the UserID is 'anonymous' and the Password is your e-mail address (e.g.
email@example.com). If the FTP site is not public, there will be a unique
UserID and Password for each person who is granted access.
When connecting to an FTP site that
allows anonymous logins, you're frequently not prompted for a name and
password. Hence, when downloading from the Internet, you most
likely are using an anonymous FTP login and you don't even know it.
To make an FTP connection you can use a
standard Web browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.) or a dedicated
FTP software program, referred to as an FTP 'Client'.
When using a Web browser for an FTP
connection, FTP uploads are difficult, or sometimes impossible, and
downloads are not protected (not recommended for uploading or
downloading large files).
When connecting with an FTP Client,
uploads and downloads couldn't be easier, and you have added security
and additional features. For one, you're able to to resume a
download that did not successfully finish, which is a very nice feature
for people using dial-up connections who frequently loose their Internet
A FTP Client is software that is designed to transfer files
back-and-forth between two computers over the Internet. It needs
to be installed on your computer and can only be used with a live
connection to the Internet.
The classic FTP Client look is a two-pane
design. The pane on the left displays the files on your computer
and the pane on the right displays the files on the remote computer.
File transfers are as easy as
dragging-and-dropping files from one pane to the other or by
highlighting a file and clicking one of the direction arrows located
between the panes.
Additional features of the FTP Client
include: multiple file transfer; the auto re-get or resuming feature; a
queuing utility; the scheduling feature; an FTP find utility; a
synchronize utility; and for the advanced user, a scripting utility.