What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and, as the name implies, it is a way of transferring files between computers. It is also one of those wonderful computer terms that’s both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, FTP is the name for a method of sending files, but also the name of the program that actually sends the files. Usage example: “Please send the file using FTP.”

As a verb, FTP means to send or receive files. A proper replacement is the word send or fetch. Usage example: “FTP it to me.”

Originally, FTP was developed to send and receive files in the old text-based computers and networks of the pre-graphical era of computers (before the mid-1980s). You use FTP to access a remote computer on the network to get or receive files, or to put or send files.

FTP existed as one of the original programs for accessing information on the Internet, long before HTTP became popular for accessing web pages. As such, your PC’s web browser, as well as the Windows Explorer program that displays files on your computer, can be used to access FTP servers to get or put files from places remote.

  • FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.

  • The term get is used in FTP to refer to receiving files.

  • The term put is used in FTP to refer to sending files.

  • In the modern context, using FTP in Windows is similar to opening a Windows Explorer window for a remote folder on a network computer.

  • A computer on the Internet that offers FTP access is said to be an FTP host or FTP server.

  • You’re required to enter a username and password to access an FTP server, just like logging in to your own computer.

  • Various public FTP servers don’t require you to have an account for access. Occasionally, you may have to log in to these servers. Often, the account name is guest and the password is either please or password. Sometimes, you’re required to give your email address as the account name and then you can type anything for the password.

  • Webpages are uploaded to the Internet by using FTP. The webpage files are created on your own computer and then sent to the ISP’s web server by using FTP, either by itself or as part of the webpage creation program.

  • Windows comes with a text-based version of the FTP program, similar to the one originally found on the old Unix computers that dominated the Internet back in the early days.

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