What is ftp?

What is FTP? It stands for File Transfer Protocol.

Another piece of internet jargon, I hear you say! But what IS it and why do you need it?

Let's start by breaking the phrase down. "Protocol" means convention or agreement to allow something to happen. In this case - "File Transfer". So File Transfer Protocol is just an agreement to allow files to be transferred from one place to another.

The 'agreement' part includes some technical computer programming. For example, there will be some code at the beginning of the transfer which says "Here's a data file" and one at the end which says "That's all folks". The code is recognised by both the sender and receiver.

You don't really need to understand the code or what it does. All you need is the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software which does this all for you.

FTP can be provided by your website hosting company. For example, if you are using SBI, you can easily transfer a picture from your computer to the Graphic Library. In this case, the SBI software allows you to browse your computer to find the picture. When you hit the 'submit' button, the SBI software adds any coding it needs and then makes a copy of the picture in its computer (or Server). You can then use that picture in your website.

If your hosting company does not provide this, you need to find someone who does.

There are 2 which are recommended.

The free one is Filezilla.

The Subscription one is Ipswitch.

When using ftp software, you normally start by setting up some details of where you want to transfer the data to. If you are creating a website, you normally enter the information you type in to access your area in the host site. For example, it could be www.yourdomain.com/admin. You can set it to automatically enter your username and password so it 'logs you in' to the host website. You can set up several of these accounts. It is a simple process.

Once you have done this, you then make a connection to the host website. The files and folders in the host website appear on one side of the screen (usually on the right).

The files and folders on your computer appear on the other side.

You can set up new folders, move folders and files around or delete them in the host website section.

When you want to transfer a file, you find it on your computer's side and press a button to transfer it to the other side. The file is only copied, so it still remains in your computer.

If you change anything in your computer, remember re-transfer the file.

You can also transfer files from the host website to your computer. This would be helpful if your website was developed by a website designer and you wanted to take it in-house or give it to another designer. You could copy all the files to your computer and then you would have your entire website on your computer.