New Media Vocabulary: ftp (file transfer protocol)

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New Media Vocabulary: ftp (file transfer protocol)

File transfer protocol was one of the first technologies developed for the infant Internet. Often shortened to its acronym, ftp, file transfer protocol dictates how files should be moved from one computer to another and provides the software interfaces to facilitate it. Most New Media users encounter ftp when they set up their first web site. Most web sites use ftp to upload the various pages, graphics, photos, audio and video necessary.

Ftp is a client/server protocol. The ftp server runs on the web site server and listens for connections from an ftp client program. When it sees a connection, it challenges that program for a username and password and then allows access to the file structure of the web server (the hard drive) if those credentials are correct. The user can then upload files to the web server, download files or re-organize files.

The original interface for ftp was as a command-line program, but now there are many free and commercial ftp client programs available to make the process easier and more intuitive. My first recommendation for my clients at this time is Cyberduck, available for both Macintosh and Windows computers.

More information on File Transfer Protocol (ftp):

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