What is FTP?

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Ever wonder how all the files for websites get to their respective web hosting account? A special protocol is used to transfer these files from the web developer’s computer to the web hosting server.This protocol is called FTP.

FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. As the name suggests, FTP is a service that is used to make a direction connection from one computer to another, for transferring files and folders only. No other operations can be performed while using FTP other than the transfer of files.

FTP can be used to transfer files between computer accounts, to transfer files between an account and a desktop computer, or to access online archives.

Components of FTP

FTP Server: In the context of websites and web hosting, there are two aspects to FTP. The first is the FTP Server. The FTP server generally runs on the web server. This makes getting the files to your hosting account that much easier. Generally, web servers run on a specific port. By default, this port is 21, but can be set to run on any other port if needed. The FTP server can be accessed with a user name and password. In some cases, an FTP server can be set up to allow for anyone to connect to the FTP server without any specific user name or password. However, this is generally disabled for security reasons. FTP Client: The second component of FTP is the FTP client. The FTP client is a piece of software that is run remotely on your desktop computer to access the FTP server. This type of software is very basic in its operation, and simply asks for a server address, user name, password, and port. Once you are connected to the FTP server with your FTP Client, the process to transfer files is very simple. You can just drag and drop, or copy and paste files from your local computer to the remote server or FTP server. Ease of use is a very important aspect that is built into most new FTP clients.

Accessing FTP sites

You can use a web browser to connect to and access a FTP site, just like you would have to connect to a regular website. When browsing through large directories or FTP sites that allow you to download files and software, using a web browser for FTP transfers can be more familiar and easier than using a FTP client. In spite of its convenience, this method of accessing FTP sites is usually slower and less reliable. This is the main reason why FTP clients are preferred to access an FTP account or to log into FTP sites to transfer files.

Setting up an FTP account

The first step is to download and install your FTP client on your computer. Once this is done, you need to set up your FTP account. The FTP account details are provided by your web hosting service provider when you create a web hosting account. Setting up your FTP account usually involves entering your FTP host name, user name, and password and port number. This done, you are ready to transfer files from your computer to your site.

This is the easy part. On most FTP clients, the files and folders on your computer are displayed on the left and the files and folders on the server are displayed on the right. On the right side, go to the folder where you want to upload the files, drag and drop the files into this folder from your computer – simple as that.

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