What is FTP?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of FTP, also known as File Transfer Protocol. And, that’s okay. Though you’ve most certainly encountered FTP in your life, it can be confusing to understand what it really is. That’s because FTP is a vital part of the Internet and how we receive and transfer files. Most browsers now come with FTP enabled, helping users access FTP.

 If you’ve ever downloaded something from someone’s private server, chances are that you used FTP without ever knowing it. But, while this widely-used but little-known bit of the Internet is ever present, actually understanding what FTP is can be a little challenging.

So, what is FTP? We know that it stands for File Transfer Protocol, but what does that mean, exactly? A protocol is something that allows networked computers to communicate with one another. Wait, what? What does that mean? Specifically, computers that are linked through a network (i.e. the Internet) reach each other through things called protocols. So, you may be able to guess, that the FTP is a way in which files are transferred from one computer to another through a network.

Great! Now that you know what FTP is on a fundamental level, you can proceed to learning more about FTP and its uses. As noted, most browsers today have FTP built in, so it’s possible to use and access FTP and never know it. However, it must be noted that FTP found through browsers is limited and lacking in security.

 Accessing FTP through certain software gives you greater control over how and why you are using FTP. Such software is designed to allow you to directly access FTP and use it to your advantage without having to go through your Internet browser. This provides a more secure experience.

In order to understand how FTP works, you must understand something about ports. Ports are pathways where information travels through a network. Though that sounds mind-boggling (it really is if you think about it), a simple understanding of ports is all you need to get the handle of FTP. While there are thousands and thousands of ports available, you don’t need to be able to know what each of them is specifically–as long as you can recognize what is a port and what isn’t.

Understanding this gives you greater flexibility when trying to send files or make transfers through FTP. By understanding what your ports are and what they aren’t, you will be more able to connect between servers and clients in a network. This gives you the ability to transfer files through specific ports and to specific clients through FTP.

This remarkable process happens virtually and serves as the foundation of the functionality of the File Transfer Protocol. Additionally, you can use FTP to access online software archives and other information. By knowing specific ports, you can use FTP with a great range of flexibility. Knowing and understanding FTP can help enrich your file-sharing experiences and adds depth to your usage of the Internet.