Quick Guide to FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Ever wondered how web designers get their web page files from their hard drive to the Internet?  Many designers use FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  With FTP, you can transfer almost any file you want to your website’s server easily. The question most asked is; “What is FTP anyhow and how does it work?”.

What is FTP?What is FTP

FTP is used to transfer files, programs or other types of information from one computer to another.  When you “upload” web page files to your web host’s server (or computer), you are actually transferring your files from your computer to theirs.

Only, theirs is programmed to show on the World Wide Web.

The FTP tool enables you to upload web pages, download software quickly, transfer information between two of your own computers, and much more.

Anonymous FTP Explained

You may have heard the term “anonymous FTP.”  This type of FTP tool is used for downloading software from a computer where you do not hold an account personally.

This enables you to get Microsoft or Apple updates, download programs from universities, and even try out software demos before you buy them.

Is FTP Software Required?

FTP software is not always required to transfer your files to the Internet. Your web host might provide online browser FTP where you can transfer from their website.  Unfortunately, you will often be limited to transferring only a few pages at a time, and it’s usually slow-going.

If you foresee transferring lots of web pages to your website server, you should get a professional FTP program such as WS_FTP offered by Ipswitch.com.  This software has many great features for online business owners and enables you to transfer many pages at once.  It’s very fast as well.

Other FTP programs available include:  SmartFTP, FTPGetter, AbleFTP, Auto FTP Manager, FastTrack FTP, FileZilla FTP, and 1st Choice FTP Pro.  Check out several FTP programs before ordering so you’ll be able to choose the one that will best fit your needs – and your budget.

**  Mac Users:  Fetch FTP Program by FetchSoftworks.com

How to Setup Your FTP Program

If you buy an FTP program, you will need to obtain your setup information from your web host provider.  This information typically includes:

*Server Name (example:  ftp. servernameexample. com):  Your server name will probably be either your own website address or an IP number.  In some cases, it’s the hosting provider’s website address.

*Username & Password:  You will also need your username and password.  This is usually the same username and password that you use to login to your hosting account for management.  If you use a control panel, it’s probably the same password.  Again, this depends on the host as well.

*WWW Directory:  You will also need to know which directory to transfer your files into on your server.  There are CGI directories, WWW directories, or Public directories.  CGI directories are only to be used if your website has CGI functions.

All public files that will be displayed to your visitors will typically go under “WWW” or “Public” directories.

This too can vary with web hosting services, so be sure to check with your host or read your hosting agreement to be sure.

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