Downloading files from the Internet is straightforward. You just click a link, then tell the browser where to store it (usually the Downloads folder by default). But how do you get a file from your computer up to the internet? To get a file up to the internet, use FTP. That stands for File Transfer Protocol.
What is FTP?
FTP is actually a very simple process. The assembler language code for simple FTP is only a few lines long. FTP software is more elaborate of course. It has error correction, login and security features, etc.
If you just want to upload a few files, you can use Windows Explorer to upload. It has some peculiarities. And it may take some getting used to. But once you get the feel of it, it is not too bad.
You can also use FTP software. You can find free FTP software. Filezilla is free, and does not come with adware or other such nonsense. And it works quite well.
There is CuteFTP which a lot of people like. It is very user friendly. Then you have the professional FTP such as WS-FTP Pro. If you are going to upload a bunch of files, or very large files, you will want to spend a little money on professional FTP software.
Where to upload files to?
If you have a website, you can upload your files there. If you want to share photos with people, you may not even need FTP software. You can find websites like Photobucket that have FTP capability built into their site. You get what you pay for, though. Photobucket has its limits.
You can also buy “hosting”. You may also want to buy a domain name. If you just want to upload photos or other stuff to share with your friends, you can find a cheap hosting plan. You’ll almost certainly want to buy a domain name. Domain names run about $15 per year or less.
How to upload the files
Once you have a place to upload to, regardless of which method of uploading you choose, you will need certain information. Below is a list of information you will need for almost any FTP connection. Your host may have a few more things you’ll need to enter.
- The FTP host: This can be an IP address (An IP address looks like 123.45.678.90) or a domain name. Sometimes preceded with “ftp.” A common FTP host may look like ftp.somewebsite.com
- Starting or Home Folder: Your host will have to let you know this. Some common starting folders for websites are /public_html, /www/root, /docs… There are several more. Note: You will probably not enter any leading or trailing forward slashes (/) in your FTP configuration.
- Passive or Active FTP? Try Passive FTP first if you are not sure. It is the most common kind.
- Username and password: Self-explanatory. Don’t be surprised if your username looks like an email address.
- The FTP Port: You may not ever have to enter the port. Port 21 is used almost universally. However, Port 22 is required for accessing servers with SFTP. Connecting servers through SSH also requires Port 22.