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What The FTP?!

Posted on Oct 7, 2014

What is an FTP? What does it stand for? What does it do? Don’t worry, five years ago, the concept of “getting websites to show up on the internet” blew my nineteen-year-old tiny little mind. My first Web Design college course was scary, intimidating, and full of acronyms that I was too scared to ask anyone about. So what does any normal Generation-Y kid do when they don’t know something? Google it! Unfortunately, I found that FTP also stood for *Bleep* The Police; I assure you that is not the definition you’re looking for. For that reason, let me get this out in the open right away (because if you’re reading this article…I imagine you feel like I did that first day of college); FTP stands for FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL. Boom! Now that you know what it stands for, take a deep breath, and let’s get you up to speed on the basics of FTP.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol

What do you use FTP for?

FTP is simply a process of transferring, uploading, and downloading files! You usually use an FTP client (of your choice of course…see next paragraph) to access yours or someone else’s server to then go through the process of transferring, uploading, or downloading files. Note: downloading an FTP client doesn’t magically give you access to a server, it is just the doorway to an existing server (but we’ll get more into that on another blog post).

Web developers and designers use FTP clients to connect to an online server they’ve either paid for or have access to, and upload files. Uploading their files to an online server allows their files to live on the internet (hint hint, this is how websites go live!). When you visit a website – your just viewing someones files that they put on their server! Make sense?

What FTP clients are out there for you to use?

There are many different FTP clients available for download. Some are free; some are not. Some are made for windows; some are made for mac. The best advice would be to research what FTP clients are available for your computer and download the two or three best ones. Then try doing the same task on each FTP client, and choose the interface that works best for you. People have different preferences.  Some FTP clients include: FileZilla (my personal favorite), WinSCP, Fugu, and CyberDuck, just to name a few.

You know what FTP stands for and downloaded a FTP client…now what?

When you finally decide on a FTP client to download to your computer and use. You’ll need to make sure you either have the log in information to the server you’ve purchased and own log in information to, or the log in information to someone else’s server that they’ve provided you access to (For example: a server provided by school or work for you to use). The log in information consists of the host address (or URL address), username, and password. Once you’re logged in, all of the files on your personal computer will usually be on the left side of the window, and the files that are already on the server that your logged on to, will usually be on the right side of the window. At this point, you’re ready to upload, download or transfer files on the server you’re logged into through your choice of FTP client!


So now you know FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it’s a process of transferring, uploading, and downloading files to and from different servers. In order to transfer, upload, and download files to and from different servers, you would use an FTP client! Not so scary anymore, is it? If you have any advice, tutorials, or side notes about FTP – please comment below. I’d love to share it with everyone on here!





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