Web Hosting – FTP and Other File Transfer Tools

The Internet as well as computer industry is full of technical jargon and acronyms. The moment you start dealing with web business you are bound to come across the technical side of it. Start building a website and very soon you’ll face a new word from computer dictionary, i.e. FTP which stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a no-brainer that many would prefer using the acronym.

Anyone who has ever developed a website and uploaded it over a remote web server understands why FTP is such an important service that demands its awareness from all web site owners. There has to be a simple and efficient way of getting files transferred to and from a web server and FTP is the solution.

There are two sides to the FTP service: the client-side and the server-side. The working of FTP software is quite analogous to Walkie Talkie. At any one point, the communication takes place from one side to the other. You initiate a request to transfer a file from your computer to the server and the server (listener in this case) performs the necessary action. Only then can the next cycle of communication take place, confirming to our analogy of Walkie Talkie like communication.

The language of FTP is not hard to decipher. In the above communication cycle, you’ll generate the PUT command to transfer a web page from your hard disk to the web server that hosts your website. To download a file existing on your web hosting server to your local computer, all you need is generate a GET command.

Many of today’s FTP software, also known as FTP clients, make use of graphical interface. This makes it very easy for new web hosting customers to transfer files to the server in a drag & drop environment. They need not bother about the peculiar details of FTP code; however knowing what’s going on definitely helps webmasters build their expertise. Being able to work in Command Line Interface, like Windows DOS, is a clear-cut plus and often the key to rescue when diagnosing problems and troubleshooting.

It is interesting to note that using an FTP client is not the only way you transfer files. In fact, file transferring is a process that keeps on going every time you type a URL in browser’s address bar or click a hyperlink on a web page. What’s happening here is also a file transfer mechanism that translates pages stored on a server to your browser’s display area.

Other means of transferring files include a File Manager interface provided by many of today’s web hosting companies. This file manager is often a part of the control panel that these hosts provide their customers, which is available online and very user friendly.

Email can also be exploited to transfer files. For advanced webmasters it’s possible to email web pages or files stored on their local PC to the remote server and place it in a specific folder via making use of an email client hosted on the server itself.

While one may question the need of these FTP alternatives, redundancy never hurts. In case your FTP software starts acting weird or fails to deliver, you’ll find it much more productive to have an alternative path to the same server than simply struggling with the troubling tool. Hence, the more you acquaint yourself with the available tools and jargons, the easier it gets to get things done.