What Does FTP Stand For?

by Jennifer Claerr

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is an Internet protocol that is used for the upload and download of files. Usually, FTP uses a bare-bones interface in which one can directly browse the file structure on a computer. Many domain hosts require that you upload web pages by FTP. Many download sites also use FTP to transfer files.


To use File Transfer Protocol, you can use any Internet browser or a program (called a "client") designed specifically for FTP. You will also need to know the URL of the FTP site you wish to access, as with ordinary Web pages. Some FTP servers require that you use a user name and password in order to browse the site. Others use a general guest user name and password to allow anonymous access. FTP uses port 21 to send commands. Most FTP clients have these commands listed in their menus, so that you won't have to memorize them.


Many free and low-cost FTP clients are available on the Web. They allow the user to send and receive files in a simplified manner. The client may include a drag-and-drop interface, connection wizard and automatic reconnect support. In many cases, uploading and downloading files by FTP with a client is very much like moving files between local folders on your own computer. SFTP is a secure version of FTP which uses Secure Shell (SSH) to encrypt uploads and downloads. It can prevent unauthorized parties from viewing your user names, passwords and files.


FTP is a faster and easier way to transfer files over the Internet than HTTP. Using an FTP client, you can schedule a bulk upload. Then you can either get up from the computer or continue working in another program while the FTP client completes the task. FTP is particularly useful for transferring large files such as images and music. Using a client is always easier than using a Web browser, since most browsers require you to manually click each file that you'd like to send or receive.


Windows Firewall tends to block FTP uploads and downloads. Windows will either report an error or simply refuse to connect to the FTP server. This will happen both in Internet Explorer and in FTP clients. The problem is most common in Windows XP Service Pack 2.


In order to reenable FTP in Windows, you must use passive FTP. To begin, open Internet Explorer. Click Tools > Internet Options, then click the Advanced tab. Under Browsing, check the box next to "Enable FTP folder view (outside of Internet Explorer)." Scroll down and check the box next to "Use Passive FTP (for firewall and DSL modem compatibility)."

About the Author

Jennifer Claerr is a web writer who has written for online sites such as Demand Studios, NBC5i.com, Texas.com and PC.com. She has a degree in art from the University of Texas at Arlington. She writes on a variety of topics, including holidays, health and fitness, travel, computers and art.

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