What is FTP?
File Transfer Protocol. The Internet protocol that permits you to transfer files between your system and another system. You can use any of three approaches to transfer files:
What software do I need to use FTP?
Limited FTP capability is built into most browsers, and you can use an FTP URL to get files. Some browsers also include the ability to put files from your system to another system using drag and drop from directory software like Windows Explorer. But if you are going to put files elsewhere very regulary, such as when you are maintaining multiple web pages, you will need FTP software. The older shell accounts normally include built-in FTP software, usable with FTP commands. If you are using a dialup or networked account, you will need your own sofware. Windows 95 and later comes with its own FTP software that can be run from MSDOS or in a dos window from the Run function. To use it, you need to know the basic FTP commands. There is a lot of friendlier software, like WS-FTP for Windows, that automates the FTP process for you so that you don't have to remember the command structure.
If you know the ftp URL or your browser is already pointing to a file as the result of a search, your browser can handle most file transfers for you.
If you know the name and address of a file, you can create an ftp URL for your browser to get it for you. For example, if you want to download the latest version of Netscape and you know that the address is ftp.netscape.com, type the following URL in the location window:
You can add specific subdirectories after the address, separated by slashes, if you know them. If you know the full path and filename, you can make the URL still more specific:
If you don't know the full path and filename, you can browse the subdirectories to find the file you are looking for.
If you are logging into a private account, such as Delphi's webspace, that requires a username and password, you can use this format URL:
You can also omit the password, if you don't want it recorded in your browser's history, and just use:
You will then be prompted for the password.
A more flexible approach to retrieving files is to run ftp software of your own. It gives you more control, and can solve problems that your browser may not be able to. It lets you control whether ASCII or binary mode is used, and it is easier to transfer multiple files. See the Internet Software Guide for recommended software for your computer and operating system.
ftp Opens the ftp software. If you follow it with an ftp address, it completes the connection.
open some.ftp.address If the ftp software is already running (you will usually see an ftp> prompt), use the open command followed by an ftp address to connect to a site.
cd directoryname Changes to the named subdirectory. Successive subdirectories can be chained together in one command, separated by slashes.
cd .. Changes to the next higher directory. The double dots can also be chained with slashes to move more than one level.
chmod The chmod command changes file permissions. Typically, the permissions are set to read, write, and execute for the owner, a specified group, and the individual. For example, "rwx r-x r--" specifies that the owner can read, write and execute, the group can just read and execute, and the individual can just read. The command syntax can vary a lot from system to system, and is not explained here.
ls or ls -l or dir Various forms of directory commands. Try them all and see their effects.
mkdir Make a new directory
rmdir Remove a directory
rm or del Various forms of the delete command. If one doesn't work, try the other.
rename or mv Various forms of the rename command. In unix, the syntax mv oldname newname effectively moves the old name to the new name.
get filename Get (download) the named file from the remote system to your system.
mget filelist Multiple file get. You can use wildcards, such as *.gif or list each filename in turn.
put Put (upload) a file from your system to a remote system.
mput Multiple file put.
ascii Sets ascii (text) mode for subsequent transfers. Use with HTML files.
bin Sets binary mode. Must be used for all binary files.
help or ? or man ftp Calls up more help. If one doesn't work, try another.
Note that there are some restrictions on filenames. To avoid compatibility problems, use only letters, numbers, and underlines in filenames. Avoid spaces and special characters completely. Rename files before uploading them, for best results. Always end a filename with a common extension, such as .jpg or .gif.