August 12, 2020
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is used to communicate and transfer files between computers on a TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) network, aka the internet. Users, who have been granted access, can receive and transfer files in the File Transfer Protocol server (also known as FTP host/site).
As a website developer, FTP is used to make changes to a website. Given the large number of files that need to be handled, it is more comfortable and secure to manage them using FTP.
In this article, we will learn all the basics about FTP and how to use the protocol.
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FTP connection needs two parties to establish and communicate on the network. To do that, users need to have permission by providing credentials to the FTP server. Some public FTP servers may not require credentials to access their files. The practice is common in a so-called anonymous FTP.
There are two distinct communication channels while establishing an FTP connection. The first one is called the command channel where it initiates the instruction and response. The other one is called a data channel, where the distribution of data happens.
To get or transfer a file, an authorized user will use the protocol to request on creating changes in the server. In return, the server will grant that access. This session is known as the active connection mode.
The distribution in active mode might face a problem if a firewall is protecting the user’s machine. The firewall usually does not allow any unauthorized sessions from an external party.
The passive mode is used if that issue occurs. In this mode, the user establishes both command and the data channel. This mode then asks the server to listen rather than to attempt to create a connection back to the user.
There are three approaches on how to establish an FTP connection. A very simple method is using a command-line FTP, such as using Command prompt for Windows or Terminal in Mac/Linux. Developers still use it today for transferring files using FTP.
A user also can use a web browser to communicate with the FTP server. A web browser is more convenient when users want to access large directories in the server. Yet, it’s often less reliable and slower than using a dedicated FTP program.
Today, the most common practice to use FTP, especially for a web developer, is by using an FTP client.
An FTP client provides more freedom compared to the command line and web browser. It is also easier to manage and more powerful compared to the other methods.
There are also more features available whilst using such a client. For example, it allows users to transfer a large file and use the synchronizing utility.
There are many FTP clients to choose from. From free open-source applications to premium options. For the purpose of this article, we will use FileZilla, an open-source and popular FTP client.
We will need an FTP server first, and we can set one up using our Hostinger account.
So there you have it, you can send and recieve files from an FTP server. As a web developer, you will need to use FTP with an FTP client to access the website that you are managing. Furthermore, it is easier to create and remove directories and read a large number of files on the server.
We hope this article helps you to understand FTP as well as the different methods and programs used.