FTP is the acronym for File Transfer Protocol. The protocol is used for exchanging files over internet. The primary purpose of FTP is to download and upload the files (HTML files, images, .jsp files, etc which are compiled and stored at a central location to serve web-pages to the browser) on the web server.
FTP is the most common (and on certain systems the only) way for the web developers to transfer files to and fro from their workstation to web server (where the website is hosted) and vice-versa. A developer would really be stuck without knowing or using an FTP client. Here is a general overview of using the FTP client and getting started with transferring files to web server.
Choose an FTP Client
FTP Client is an interactive program used for simplifying transfer of files. Most of them are freely available on the internet. You can choose from the FTP client depending on your platform. The most popular and widely used FTP clients are:
- Filezilla: Its free, open source and cross platform FTP client power-packed with features like remote file editing, etc.
- FireFTP: The Firefox add-on (open source and cross platform), which adds FTP client capabilities to Mozilla Firefox.
- WinSCP: Is free FTP, SFTP and SCP client for Windows.
- Cyberduck: Free and open source FTP client for Mac OS X.
Even though, all the above mentioned FTP clients provide easy to use interface, we personally prefer using FireFTP since it plugs right into Firefox.
Create An FTP Account
Once you have downloaded and installed the FTP client, the next thing you need to do is to create an FTP account; where you need to provide the following details:
- FTP Host: The FTP host for the website is the name of your ftp server, the place where the web host stores all the files uploaded by you. The FTP host name is usually same as the domain name with ftp prefixed as ftp.example.com (where the domain name is example.com).
- Credentials: Specify the username and password for creating the FTP account.
- Other Info: Depending on the FTP client you are using, you need to provide some additional information like connection type, timezone offset, server encoding, etc. These are optional.
Fill in the required details and click OK to finally create the account.
Use FTP Client For Transferring Files
Most FTP clients provide a simplified interface for downloading and uploading the files from and to the web server. It displays the local folders on your computer in one pane and the files & folders on the server in another pane. The controls for downloading and uploading the files are prominent arrows mostly on the toolbar. FTP client is not only used for transferring the files, it enables you to easily transfer, create, rename or delete the files uploaded to the web server.
Which FTP client do you prefer?