If you are a programmer or webmaster, you have probably heard a lot about FTP, but you may have never sought to find its meaning and application. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a protocol developed in 1971 on the Internet. FTP is simply a way to transfer files online. This protocol is one of the most widely used and oldest Internet protocols. In this article, we want to see what is FTP protocol and what are its applications in the web world?
What does FTP do?
The topic of protocols on the web does not just include two protocols, http and https; There are other protocols on the Web, each with a specific function; Protocols such as IMAP, POP, XMPP, DNS and FTP. and in this article, we want to explain FTP protocol.
FTP is a way for web developers to transfer information to the server of the site which you are working on. For example, if you want to install WordPress (the most common content management system) on a web server, you will need FTP to copy the files. Some download websites also use FTP to upload content on their website. Note that a file uploaded via FTP does not necessarily need to be downloaded via FTP. That way you, as a user of a download website, will never need to use an FTP client to download.
FTP is also sometimes used to share files. You can transfer a file to an FTP server and share the link with another user. Although, this usage has diminished in today’s world due to the advent of cloud space, but some prefer to store their files on their own home servers.
What do we mean by FTP Client and FTP Server?
Using the FTP protocol to transfer files to another system requires two main prerequisites. These prerequisites are:
- FTP Client: To use FTP to transfer files, you must use special FTP software. These applications are graphical. Of course, there are other ways to use this protocol besides using this software.
- FTP Server: In order to use this protocol, we need to install software called FTP Server on the server or the system that we want to use as a server. This software is responsible for communicating with the client and processing the commands sent from it to the server.
Ways to use FTP
There are generally three ways to use FTP:
- Using graphic software: This is the most common way to use FTP. In this way, the user can easily connect to the FTP server by installing software such as FileZilla, CuteFTP on their system. Using these softwares, the user can easily download or upload his files by dragging and dropping operations. The advantage of this method is that there is no need for technical knowledge. Because the software environment is very similar to the default environment of the Windows operating system.
2. Using Internet Browsers: Internet browsers such as Chrome and Mozilla Firefox can be used to connect to FTP servers. In this method, you should just enter the FTP address of a site in the browser, then enter the username and password. Browsers are only able to display files and the contents of the intended space, but are not able to upload or send files. Therefore, using this method is suitable for searching or reading the file. Also, this method has lower speed and security than the first method.
3. Using the command line: In this method, you can use the operating system’s command line to connect to the FTP server. However, this method is rarely used due to the lack of a user-friendly graphical interface.
What are the uses of file transfer protocol?
FTP is used to transfer files between accounts on one computer, between two different computers, and … on a network. Webmasters often use FTP to deliver content to sites. Because usually when they want to upload a file from a system to the host, FTP is the best option for this. FTP can also be used to share files. For example, when they want to give other users access to a file via a link. Applications of this protocol in general include:
- Provide a report of the files in the intended system
- Delete, rename and move files
- Search in directories
- Create or delete a directory on the intended system
- Ability to download files from the intended system
- Ability to upload files to the intended system
Security in file transfer protocol
As it mentioned before, when the FTP protocol was introduced, the network of computers was very small and limited. For this reason, at that time, there was no talk of cyber security and observance of security tips in communication. This indicates that communications in the FTP protocol are not encrypted.
Accordingly, if someone has access to the FTP connection route, they can easily check the operations performed. It may even easily compromise site information by altering or deleting files. For this reason, today most users use FTPS. FTPS encrypts information and communications to prevent hackers, saboteurs, or any other unauthorized user from accessing server files.