FTP File Transfer Protocol

Learn about File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
Learn to upload and download files from the Internet.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP, file transfer protocol, is an Internet tool that enables you to browse remote computers and transfer files. Files are available for downloading to your computer free of charge. Uploading from your computer to a remote computer is possible only if you have authorization from the remote computer. The ability to share files has great value in education and research.

File Types (ASCII and binary)

The two types of files that can be transferred are text and binary. Text (ASCII, which is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange) files consist of letters and ordinary characters. Binary files include pictures, sound, and executable programs.

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Anonymous FTP

When you want to transfer some particular files, you must inform the FTP server who you are by using your login id and password.
(Protected files are available only to those with a proper password.)

Many files can be transferred to your computer by a method called anonymous FTP. This method gives you the ability to download files without requiring a specific password. The method is called anonymous because the login id that you enter is, literally, anonymous.

Logging Onto an FTP server

The FTP process begins when a connection is made between an FTP client and an anonymous FTP server. After establishing communication, the client logs on with a user name and password. The user name and password identify your account on the server.

Most public FTP servers are set up with an Anonymous account. When you connect to an FTP server over the Internet, you need only identify yourself as Anonymous and use an e-mail address as a password. Normally, when you log on anonymously, the server displays the public directory (usually named something like /pub or /apps) containing the information and software that can be downloaded to your local system. (Access to other directories on the server is usually restricted.)

On anonymous FTP sites, look for files called readme, readme.txt, index, or 00index. Many sites use a file like this to provide a catalog of the information available on the site as well as other information about the site, such as a mission statement or operating hours.

Note: Many sites have simplified FTP. You just point and click to select the file to download, then double-click to perform the download activity.

An example of an anonymous FTP site
is shown below.


Go to http://hoohoo.ncsa.uiuc.edu/ftp/
for a listing of Ananymous FTP sites.

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Telnet FTP
Learn to conduct a Telnet session.


Telnet allows you to log on to a remote computer.
Usually you need a password and ID to log on.An Example of a telnet session window is shown below:


Signing Off

Don’t forget to sign off any remote computer to which you were connected.
If you forget to sign off, your computer may remain connected to the remote computer longer than you had intended; thereby tying up phone lines, increasing costs, etc.

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Gopher FTP
Internet Searches
Historically, Internet searches were done through Gopher searches. Currently, Internet searches are done through search engines, such as Yahoo! and Google.
Learn to search using Gopher.


Gopher is the name of a menu-driven program that makes finding information on the Internet easy. In Gopher, to select a menu or file, you do not have to type its name; you just mouse CLICK on it. You can travel forward and backward through menu items with single mouse clicks. Gopher automatically finds whatever information you want, anyplace on the Internet, by traveling from gopher to gopher around the world.

What If You Don’t Have a Gopher Program?

Gopher servers are located around the world. If you do not have a Gopher client program in your computer, you can telnet to a Gopher site.The University of Minnesota Gopher, shown below, has a list of all the Gopher servers.


Archie, Veronica, and Jughead

How do you find something? Three Gopher Internet search programs are named Archie, Veronica, and Jughead.

Due to the popularity and ease of use of World Wide Web search engines, Archie, Veronica, and Jughead are not used very much any more.

Archie (short for Archives)

Archie was the first of the important Internet search tools. It was designed to keep a database of directories and files in FTP sites on the Internet. Archie sites hold copies of the database, and you enter these sites to conduct a file search. Archie searches for a file name that contains a string of letters, disregarding upper and lower case, that you have identified. Thus, knowing the name of the file you want is important to the use of Archie as an Internet search tool. After Archie finds a computer that has the file you are searching for, you can use FTP to download it. You can obtain a list of Archie sites by typing the command servers while engaged in an Archie search. It is important to use the Archie site nearest you.


(Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized Archives)
Veronica is also a Gopher search tool that searches every item in all Gopher menus for words you have identified. If you entered the words car and boat, Veronica would do a world search of Gopher menus and report to you all the file names that contained the string car and boat. Archie and Veronica conduct similar file searches. Once your site is located, Veronica lets you FTP (File Transfer Protocol) directly from the search screen.


Jughead is another Gopher search tool. Jughead searches Gopher menu names similar to a Veronica search. Jughead database of files is not as extensive as the Veronica database.
Jughead is a good tool for finding starting points for your search. Jughead creates a gopher menu of files just as Veronica does.

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