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FTP Basics

Anyone that has downloaded from the internet has likely utilized an FTP application, without even realizing it. But if you are a non–techie and a casual user you may wonder, just what is FTP? What About an FTP client?

Here are the basic definitions of common FTP terms:

File Transfer Protocol; the protocol commonly used to transfer files through a network (including the Internet). Basically, it is a way for you to copy files from one computer to another, commonly used in Peer–to–Peer (P2P) file sharing.

FTP Server
This is a server or computer that waits for transfer requests.

FTP Client
This is the computer that sends a request to the FTP server. Once the request is verified, the FTP client computer can download or upload from or to the server. So, for example by signing in to Apple iTunes you are sending a request to their server, their server verifies your id and permission level, then connects your computer and allows you to download files.

Anonymous FTP
This means that an FTP client can connect to the FTP server with little or no qualification or verification. Many free download sites use this ability, so basically anyone can download from their site without having a user account.

FTP Host
This is a service that can “host” an FTP site, so instead of using your server as the FTP server, users can login to your FTP site and download/upload to the hosted space. This is a paid service usually with memory and user limitations.

FTP Site
This is the site (or collection of files) hosted by the FTP host that can be accessed by user name and password. Many FTP sites are stored on hosted servers, while others may be located on a server owned by the originator of the data.

FTP Proxy
This is kind of like a gatekeeper, so if a request is sent to an FTP server it goes through the proxy first, the request is then redirected.

Pamela Stevens

Pamela Stevens writes for, a review site that publishes technology and entertainment reviews.


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