FTP basics

If you’re working with a designer or ad agency, placing art in a publication, creating a website, or transferring files between coworkers, chances are that at some point you will need to use FTP.

What is ftp?What is FTP? It stands for File Transfer Protocol, but what you really need to know is that it’s a secure way to exchange files over the internet. A virtual file cabinet, FTP is commonly used to transfer website files (html code and images) to the site’s hosting server, to download MP3 music files, or to transfer large files that would bog down email servers.

An FTP address looks a lot like a web address, except that it starts with ftp:// instead of http://. But don’t treat them the same! Unlike a website, FTP requires a user name and password to access files. While many web browsers are now able to connect to ftp servers, you’re better off using FTP access software—called an FTP Client—to access and transfer files.

FTP CLIENTS allow you to manipulate files on the FTP server: to log in, view files, upload new files, and download files. Other features include creating new file folders, transferring files to different folders, and deleting files.

FREE FTP SOFTWARE is available for download for both Macs and PCs. Many offer upgraded features for purchase, but I’ve never needed to invest in these—the basic software works just great. I’ve used a program called FETCH for my Mac for many years and find it to be very user-friendly. You can download a free trial version at fetchsoftworks.com. If you’re a PC user, you may want to try WinSCP: winscp.net/eng For both platforms, FileZilla (filezilla-project.org) gets high marks as free, general public license software, and FireFTP (fireftp.mozdev.org) for use with the Firefox internet browser.

Here’s a great resource comparing FTP clients, including prices, compatibility, and functions: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_FTP_clients.

Got your own FTP Client favorites? Share them with us! Leave a comment below:

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One Response to “FTP basics”

  1. Mix Creative says:

    Since posting this column, I received this feedback from one of my web contacts: “I actually discovered FileZilla myself a month or so ago. I had been using FireFTP for several years until it inexplicably stopped working with our hosting company. Oh well — FileZilla works much better and costs just the same as FireFTP. :)

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