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FTP is yet another web transfer protocol.

If that sound completely incomprehensible, your browser has used another protocol to download this page from our server onto your screen (in this case FTP's little, flashier brother, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)).

In both case, a program on your PC (either the browser in the case of HTTP and a FTP program in the case of FTP) interact with a web server using a series of commands.

By doing so you can upload (send files or information up to the server. In the case of HTTP think about everytime you fill in an online form). This is obviously what we need to do to get your site on the net.

You can also download information. With FTP you can find a wealth of site with files, programs etc. to download from the net.

You don't need to know the commands needed as your browser and your FTP agent do all the hard commands bit.

HTTP is geared to the quick transfer of webpages whilst FTP is designed for file transfer. Your browser will do download FTP transfers (abet slower than dedicated FTP software) and there are plenty of FTP "download managers"

Funnily enough servers tend to differ too! Although you can set up a simple download area on most web servers this will be slower than setting such an area up on a "dedicated" FTP server.

FTP transfers data in 2 forms ASCII and Binary.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), codes text into binary (e.g. 0 or 1) sequences of 7 numbers per text item

e.g. A = 01000000

Funnily no huge surprise that this works well with HTML documents. All spaces will be lost in transmission

However if you look at a graphics file in computer language (get a text editor like notepad and open a graphics file) you see it too is coded in text. However unlike text documents like HTML the precise position of these text characters is vital. ASCII transfer can screw up images on transfer as it doesn't preserve this vital form.

Binary transfer does however. This is the safer way of uploading images. It can potentially cause problems with HTML documents though due to the forcing a form on a document once uploaded which can corrupt a webpage

Luckily for us most FTP programs will automatically switch between the two.


Basic Guide to using FTP programs
You'll need certain this basic info to use any FTP program

FTP Troubleshooting

Our FAQ guide to FTP problems


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