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Beginner's Guide to FTP

By Younes Achmed

In this article we introduce the basic concepts of the file transfer protocol(FTP) and how it can help you in hosting your website.

Introduction

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a simple and secure way to exchange files over the Internet. FTP is widely used by web developers, IT professionals, and even by people with no IT background.

The most common use for FTP is to download files from the Internet. This makes FTP essential for anyone creating a website, amateurs and professionals alike. By using FTP you have the ability to upload and download files from any computer that allows FTP access.

The only thing you need to know is the domain name or ip address of the computer you are going to exchange files with. A FTP address looks a lot like an HTTP address except it uses the prefix FTP:// instead of http://.

HTTP Address: http://www.domain.com/
FTP Address: FTP://FTP.domain.com/

Note that the computer you are connecting to  may not have a domain name. In that case the computer's  IP address is used in the url. Example:

FTP://120.44.22.1

The computer you are connecting to is called the FTP server. Any computer with an internet connection can be a FTP server. Therefore it is  possible to setup your own computer to host files over FTP, but this is beyond the scope of this article.

Connecting to FTP Servers

Usually to access a FTP server you have to provide login credentials, in other words a username and password. However some servers allow anonymous access, these are mostly free download servers.

Your web hosting service server will most likely require credentials to log in. You should be able to find these in your web hosting control panel or registration email. You should keep them safe. If somebody gets access to your FTP server he can delete all of your data, so choosing a strong password and changing it often is a good idea.

To make a FTP connection you can use a standard Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) or a dedicated FTP software program, referred to as an FTP client.

When using a Web browser, FTP uploads are difficult, or sometimes impossible, and downloads are not protected (not recommended for uploading or downloading large files) and do not support download resume.  Besides that to connect you have to provide an FTP url in a special form like this FTP://user:password@host:port/path/. The port is often omitted. If you don't specify a port the default port 21 is used. Here is an example

FTP://tom:123456@1asphost.com:72/mydocs/

When connecting with a FTP Client, uploads and downloads couldn't be easier, and you have added security and additional features. You are also  able to to resume a download that did not successfully finish, which is a very nice feature for people using modem connections who frequently loose their internet connection.

The Advantages of FTP Clients

A FTP Client is software that is designed to transfer files back-and-forth between two computers over the Internet. A FTP Client is a software program so in order to use it you have to install it first.

A FTP Client has many advantages over browser FTP functionalities. It has a specificly designed user interface that enables easy drag and drop uploads and downloads. It has increased security and speed too.

Additional features  may  include: SSL, TSL support, multiple file transfer; auto resuming feature; a queuing utility; scheduling and backup features; a synchronize utilities; scripting and macro tools and much more.

That's why it is recommended to use a FTP client when hosting a website . It is going to make transferring your site safer, faster and easier. Our recommended FTP client is  Cute FTP. You can visit the Globalscapes's website for a free trial download

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