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A Brief Introduction to FTP
By: Terri Wells
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    Table of Contents:
  • A Brief Introduction to FTP
  • FTP Connecting with IE
  • Transferring Files with IE
  • Using FTP Client Programs

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    A Brief Introduction to FTP - FTP Connecting with IE

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    Let's put aside the question of FTP programs for the moment. If you have a website you need to build (or update), and you're eager to put the power of FTP to work for you, you probably have everything you need for the basic stuff right on your computer already. As I mentioned, Internet Explorer supports FTP, and it's available on practically every Windows PC. You won't get the extra features available in many FTP programs, but you'll be dealing with a very familiar interface. Best of all, of course, it's free.

    In order to use FTP, it helps if you know the site you're going to connect to. You can use either the site's URL or its IP address if you know that (the four-part number that you don't have to memorize anymore thanks to friendly URLs). Instead of using http:// as you normally would for viewing the site, however, you use ftp://. If you have your own domain set up with your web host, you'd probably type something like ftp://ftp.MyDomain.com/ into the address bar.

    The whole point of this exercise is to connect IE with an FTP site. The FTP site is supposed to let you transfer files from your computer (the local machine) to a folder on the Internet server. Or vice versa, if you need to grab a file and update it (or download new software, or any one of a number of tasks). If you've typed the right information into IE's address bar, you'll get a login dialog that looks something like this:


    Yes, I admit it, I couldn't resist checking with a big site to show you what the login dialog looks like. Somehow I think Amazon.com will forgive me. Anyway, at this point you'll need the user name and password that your web host assigned to you when you opened your account with them. Enter them in the appropriate spaces in the dialog, and hit the log on button.

    What you'll see next in your browser will look very much like what you'd see in Windows Explorer - a list of files. Since the FTP site - in this case, your web host - controls the files you can access, the only files you're likely to be seeing are your own. Of course, you don't merely want to look at your files; you want to transfer some files. And that's the next step.

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