What is FTP?

Tuesday 27 April 2010


FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, it is one of the main standards for transferring files from or to one location and another. It retains files in their designated form as opposed to another form of transferring files one way (usually) called HTTP. For HTTP you download data from a server and then your browser software converts it into viewable content. With FTP you can transfer text files, movies, documents, audio files and indeed any other kind of file without opening or viewing it, you can then use your desired application to view the file on your own PC or allow others to download your files from a remote location or even view files via HTTP if you place them on a web server.

FTP’s principal use is in a web hosting environment and is for uploading website (html, php, asp… etc) files to an online web server where they will be stored for access by website visitors. FTP has become the standard process for this as it allows password protection and access to the files on the web hosting side restricting website administration to only those that need it. Administrators can view and edit all the files on the web server. Almost all Web Hosting Companies will provide FTP access to their customers who want to use this service. Usually the FTP is restricted so it is much faster to upload files then it is to download so as not to slow down the HTTP access for everyone visiting websites on the server.

FTP is not the only way to transfer files to your webhost either. Some hosts allow Microsoft Front Page publishing; however since Microsoft ceased support for this some time ago, the number of hosts who provide this service are diminishing. If you have your own dedicated server or virtual dedicated server, you can also use network drive mapping (SAMBA or NFS) to transfer files as well, however this can sometimes be less secure.

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