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FTP is a mysterious yet extremely useful way to send data across computer networks. Here's a short overview with links.

To begin, FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol. The internet is made up of many protocols which are simply rules everyone agrees upon. Rules make it easy for computers to talk with each other across a network of computers connected to each other. Imagine if 10 people in a room spoke a different language. It would be hard to get anything done. But if all 10 people spoke Hungarian, or agreed to speak Hungarian, they could work together. Internet protocols work the same way.

What is FTP?

The file transfer protocol governs how data is sent over networks. FTP is a set of commands you can type into a command line interface tool like iTerm or use as you drag and drop files from your local computer to a remote computer with a more familiar software tool like Filezilla.

The most common use of FTP is to upload and download files used to build and maintain websites. When someone says, “I use FTP,” often they mean they use software that sends file transfer protocol commands between two computers connected to each other on a network. The FTP commands allow the person to manage files on their computer and the remote computer. The software they use is not FTP. The software is simply a tool, a way to send and receive FTP commands.


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