FTP is an abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol. An FTP client is a software application that uses file transfer protocol to transmit data from your computer to a web server, or vice versa. By bridging the gap between your hard drive and your web site you’re able to upload and download content to and from your web sites with ease. There are many tools and resources available to the modern webmaster that simplify and facilitate the creation and management of advanced web sites, with little knowledge or technical training required. However, as elementary as it may be, an FTP client is still the most commonly used web hosting software.
What is the Purpose of an FTP Client?
Many people use content management systems to upload content to their site within a user-friendly interface that lets you edit, organize and publish all of you content. For a novice webmaster that utilizes such content management systems there may appear to be no use for an FTP client. In fact, some may even argue that FTP clients are outdated and obsolete. Of course, they might have a different outlook on the situation after trying to upload twenty plugins and one hundred articles to their site at the same time.
FTP clients are primarily designed for bulk uploading. Instead of uploading one article (or plugin) at a time you can enjoy the benefits of uploading hundreds of pages simultaneously with a few clicks of the mouse. Content management systems often require plugins for ideal use. Uploading the same plugins to different web site repeatedly can be an unnecessarily tedious task. Professional webmasters use FTP clients to perform such mundane tasks quickly and easily.
How is an FTP Client Used With a Hosting Account?
Contrary to popular belief, setting up an online connection to your server with an FTP client is actually very simple. First, you must log into your hosting account and create an FTP account in the FTP section of your control panel. You will have to adjust a few self-explanatory settings and then you will be given the login credentials for your new FTP account. You can create FTP accounts that will connect directly to specific web sites, or you can create an FTP account that will connect to the root directory of your web server. There are many FTP programs available online for free, all of which are easy to install and operate.
The FTP Client Layout
After you’re logged into the FTP account you can begin transferring files to your web server, or vice versa. However, it is best to become familiar with the layout of the FTP client first. The left side of the program is usually dedicated to your computer’s hard drive, while the right side displays the files of the web server. The top quadrants only display folders, while the bottom quadrants display the content of the selected folders. For example, if you click on a folder in the upper left quadrant, the contents of that folder will appear in the bottom left quadrant.
Transferring Files With an FTP Client
To begin transferring files simply select a file or folder, right click it, and then select the uploads option. This same process can be used to download content from the web server as well. If you want to select multiple files or folders in the FTP client just hold down the Ctrl key as you select the files. As the files are transferred you can view the progress of each transfer in the bottom of the application screen. You can also stop transfers in the process if you’d like.
Where to Find FTP Clients
Fortunately, even though they are very useful programs, it is possible to find FTP clients for free online. In fact, almost all FTP clients have a free version that will satisfy the average webmaster. FTP clients like FileZilla and CuteFTP are some of the most popular FTP clients on the internet, ad surprisingly, they are free as well.