The websites we usually visit on the internet use the HTTP protocol. However, in addition to HTTP, we have many other types of protocols. IMAP and POP are two types of protocols used to send and receive email, XMPP is a protocol for sending and receiving messages, and FPT is a protocol for transferring files online.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, roughly translated as the file transfer protocol. It is also one of the oldest protocols still in use today and is a convenient way to transfer files over the internet. An FTP server provides access to the directory and its subdirectories. The same person connects to these servers using an FTP client, which will help you download and upload files from the FTP server.
The FTP server’s URL begins with ftp:// or ftps://.
Many internet users have never used FTP, but if you intend to build a website, it is one of the essential tools. And because it’s a foundational tool for the web, it’s worth learning about FTP even if you’re not a programmer or IT. Therefore, this article will introduce all about FTP that a common internet user should know and use.
Purpose of using FTP
FTP is very useful in moving data from your computer to the server where the website is hosted. If you want to install WordPress on a web server, you will need FTP to copy files to the server.
It can also be used as a way to share files. Someone uploads a file to an FTP server then shares the link with others. This method is now less used due to the development of cloud services.
FTP is one of the simplest and earliest formats created to move files from one device to another. FTP dates back to 1971 when the first version was designed by Abhay Bhushan. In the 1980s, the FTP format was updated to the TCP/IP version for linking with servers.
See more: What is a Proxy? How to use Proxy?
What does FTP look like?
Although it depends on what software you use, it usually resembles the file structure on your computer. It contains a hierarchical folder structure, which you can explore similarly to Windows Explorer or Finder.
Take, for example, browsing a public FTP server from a browser like Chrome or Firefox. Below is an image from Adobe used to download their software via FTP. Both browsers support FTP server discovery and file download (but not file upload permission).
Using FTP to download files from the server is rare. Usually, FTP is used to upload files from your personal computer to the website server.
Is FTP secure?
No, FTP is not secure by design. FTP transfers files unencrypted, which means they are vulnerable to attacks.
For this reason, a lot of people use FTPS instead. It basically works like FTP, but everything is encrypted, meaning hackers can’t read or intercept files. At this point, a lot of servers refuse to provide unencrypted access. Instead, only offer FTPS.
Which FTP client is the best?
FileZilla and CyberDuck are two FTP clients that stand out from the rest. They are full of features and have been around for a long time, so they have stability, good interface tweaks and lots of tools to make your file transfer quick and easy. If you want to know more about good FTP clients, check out the best FTP clients article 2021.
See more: What is Server?
Set up an FTP server on your computer
If you are a Windows user, you can download and install the FileZilla server. If you are a Mac user, then you do not need to install any additional software. Just open Sharing in System Preferences and enable Remote Login. This will enable the FTPS server on your mac, which will provide secure access to files from any FTP client.
You will need an FTP client on another computer (which is intended to be the client) to access and retrieve files from the FTP server, which is the computer you set up as the server.
In case you want the FTP server to be accessible online, then use secure encrypted FTPS.