In modern computing, files are being transferred from one device to another all the time. Chances are that at your business, this is definitely the case, whether it’s between two of your employees, staff and your customers, or your company and ones you work with. Whatever the case, files don’t get transferred on their own. A unique piece of technology is at play called FTP.
FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard network protocol used for transferring files from one host to another over a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) network. The Internet would be the most obvious example of such a network. File Transfer Protocol is constructed with a client-server architecture. It also utilizes different control and data connections between the server and client.
In many ways, FTP and HTTP have a lot in common (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Most people will know HTTP from their web browser. When you type an address in the address bar, the browser takes on the role of a client and the computer containing the information requested performs like a server.
FTP is an older protocol for transferring files but works in much the same way. The major difference is that it isn’t utilized by the World Wide Web. Instead, it gets used for transferring files between a computer and an FTP server or other computer.
Another difference is that when FTP transfers a file to a computer, it is automatically saved—the entire thing—in that device’s memory. A new connection has to be made every time one of these file transfers happens as well. In order to use an FTP protocol, you will also need authentication. With HTTP, no password is required.
While HTTP is the obvious route for smaller files, FTP is definitely the faster and more efficient option for larger ones.
There are a number of reasons your company may want to elect to use FTP software for their file transfers. The first one we already touched on: if you’re constantly transferring large files, FTP is probably the way to go. Otherwise, you’re most likely working with a clumsy workaround of some sort. With FTP you have large files essentially on demand for downloading when you need them. This also means you can download a lot of smaller files all at the same time, instead of waiting for them to get downloaded one-by-one.
As most FTP servers will require that people sign in with a username and password, most companies appreciate that File Transfer Protocol is also more secure than other options.
This security means that if your connection goes down in the middle of a file transfer, all is not lost. FTP allows for things to pick up where you left off, so the transfer can be completed.
You can even schedule transfers with many FTP clients as well, further increasing the efficiency of this option. It also makes things far more convenient if you know you’ll need transfers done at reoccurring times in the future.
Lastly, one more reason FTP is such an efficient option is because it allows for files to be transferred back and forth. This means you can send files out to your staff and they’re able to send them—or other files—right back. With FTP, this is all done across the same server.
There are a number of titles available in the FTP software market. Be sure to think about the features you need to get the most out of the kind you buy for your company.
Look for versions that support TLS, SSL, and SFTP (SSH). If you’re not already running one of these popular protocols, it’s likely you may someday down the line and it will make things a lot easier if your FTP already works with them.
Even more important, though, is that your FTP must work with whatever your operating system is. Some will only work for Windows, for example. Fortunately, this is an easy thing to check for and there are enough versions out there that it won’t be hard to find one that works with your current operating system.
To transfer a file, all someone should have to do is drag it and drop it in the appropriate folder or icon. Aside from addressing it to the right recipient, anything else an FTP software demands is largely superfluous. While some bells and whistles are great (e.g. being able to schedule future transfers), they shouldn’t get in the way of streamlined and convenient use.
FTP has a lot to offer modern companies that find themselves regularly transferring files. Keep in mind the above advice and you should have no problem finding a form of software that will make it easy for you to benefit from this protocol.
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