A Brief Introduction to FTP
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If you’re setting up a web site, you will probably need to transfer files to your web host. To accomplish this task, FTP is invaluable. But what is it and how do you use it? Keep reading to find out.
FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol." As you may have guessed from the name, it is a protocol for transferring files from one computer to another over a network connection. While this is often done over the Internet, it doesn't have to be. Users on a large intranet, like those at a corporation or on a college campus, may also transfer files between computers within the intranet via FTP.
In basic outline, it works like this: one computer, known as the "client," uses an FTP Client software program to request a file from another computer. The second computer is known as a "server." The file is then moved, or downloaded, to the computer that made the request. The same FTP Client software can be used to upload files to another computer. For example, if you have created files for your web site on your own computer, and you want to send them to your web host, you would use the FTP Client software to accomplish this task.
FTP can also come in handy for downloading software to your computer, and transferring information between your home and work computers. Calling it "transfer" is really a misnomer, though. You're not "transferring" files from one computer to another; you're copying them. It beats "SneakerNet" any day, and you can even transfer files that are too big for email attachments. You will need to have an account on both computers to make it work, however (unless you're doing anonymous FTP, which you don't see very often anymore for security reasons).
While FTP can be done with a command line interface - after all, that's the way it started - these days, there are a variety of FTP programs available that provide users with a friendly GUI interface. Even Internet Explorer will allow you to use FTP (which I'll discuss in more detail later in this article), but many good shareware FTP programs have extra features that come in really handy (like being able to transfer a whole bunch of files all at once).
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