What is FTP and How it works


FTP is a file transfer protocol used for data transfer based on a client-server system. In other words, it is a simple yet effective communication system that allows you to upload, move, and download files within a directory system. FTP uses the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) for data transfer and requires client authentication via username and password to work. FTP is one of the first communication systems defined in the history of the internet and is still widely used by webmasters to upload programs, files, and data to hosting. But not only, actually, among the principles that created FTP (developed at MIT in 1971), we find file sharing, the use of remote computers, and the effective transfer of data.

Is the FTP connection secure?

With all these attentions for HTTPS, one wonders: is the FTP connection secure? In reality, the basic version does not include encryption. Therefore the attackers can recover all the access parameters. It is possible to add SSL / TSL protocols to encrypt the information and make the passage safe to improve this step. The best FTP clients support this option and allow you to work with the FTPS variant.

What is FTP for?

Now that we know what it is, let's try to understand, in concrete terms, what FTP can help us in creating a website? First, you need to understand how a website works. A site is nothing more than a set of folders and files that are located on a server, to make it simple a server is a kind of large computer that can host several websites, grouped in files and folders.


When we buy hosting, therefore, we are buying a space on the server. To transfer any file inside the server, from our PC to it, we will have to take advantage of the FTP protocol or SFTP, depending on the configurations.


Using the protocol, we can, therefore, bring any file to the server and reuse it if necessary. You can upload entire cms to the server, such as WordPress, simple images, and any other type of files.

For example, if you upload the image "test.jpg" to the server, inside the root of your domain, once the upload is complete, it will be accessible from your browser by typing yourdomain.com/test.jpg. Now, do you understand why it is so important in building a site?

If you don't want to use FTP, however, know that many providers offer a file management system integrated into the administration panel of the hosting. This system is very inconvenient for the maximum sending of files, that's why it is necessary to use an FTP client.

How FTP works

Without going into technical details, to run this system, you need an FTP client-an application to put you in contact with the server with a port that listens for the file transfer. The concrete operations that you can put into practice when you came into contact with your hosting are different:

- Upload and download files.

- Remove and rename files.

- Directory creation and navigation.

It is clear, therefore, the close relationship between the operations that you can carry out to create your blog or website, a sequence that precisely needs FTP to upload all the files of the main hosting directory. Once you have downloaded the CMS and modified the configuration file, you must transfer the folder with the software you have chosen to complete the operations.


If you want more information on these operations, you can take a look at the guide to creating a website with WordPress. Otherwise, read on, we are going to recommend you some FTP programs.

Best FTP programs for Mac and PC

To create a connection with the server, you need these programs designed to act as a link between your needs and the place where you can edit your directories. There are several solutions, which may be fine for Mac or PC. Which one to choose? Here are several options that you can use.

  - Filezilla - One of the most interesting for those who need a simple and effective FTP program. Compatible for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Filezilla supports SSL / TLS, or SSH encrypted data transmission to improve the security of your experience.

- Cyberduck - Other compatible software on Windows and Mac OS X. Cyberduck creates a connection with all servers and with many cloud services such as Amazon, S3, Azure, or OpenStack. The strong point of this FTP software is the management of the key rings, simple and convenient.

- FireFTP - This application combines two programs into one: it is an FTP client integrated with the Firefox browser. This way, you can navigate and manage data transfer with a single screen. In this case, you have what you need to control the data better. 

There are other FTP programs for your blog, to connect your needs with the server. From my point of view, these are enough; you don't need anything else. Now better to focus on another point: how to set up the client you have chosen.

How to configure FTP client

How do you use FTP? Rather than knowing how this protocol works, let's focus on configuring the client to get in touch with your server. So, the first point, download the FTP program you prefer. For now, stay on Filezilla, but the procedures are similar for other names.


Once it is installed, launch the program and keep at hand the access data to the server that should have arrived together with the purchase of the hosting. Once you have opened Filezilla, go to File and Site Management to add a new project to the keychain. 

What is the data to add to the control panel?

 - Your host (site address) in the first box.

- The door usually set to 21 (if it is not written, do not worry).

- Connection type set to Normal.

- Username and password in the respective fields.

As we mention earlier, many providers send a summary email with the data to access FTP. Others allow you to generate the username from the specific section of the web panel. In any case, the operations are very simple, and in case of difficulty, just an email to support.

How to transfer and edit files with FTP

After filling in these fields, you can click on Send and connect to the server. Now you have a control panel to perform all the operations with your FTP. That is, you can upload, download, and edit files. But also browse the directories. But this is the first time that you enter on my server with Filezilla or Cyberduck: how should you move?


Look at the control panel. At the top, you have the fields to enter your access data; an operation already carried out. On the left, you have the representation of your computer in the form of a directory and on the right of the server. All you have to do is navigate, reach, and open the resources you need. If you want to transfer a file from one part to anotherFTP, you can drag & drop from one window to another.


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Jan 29, 2020


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