Definition

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard Internet protocol for transmitting files between computers on the Internet. Like the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which transfers displayable Web pages and related files, and the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which transfers e-mail, FTP is an application protocol that uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocols. FTP is commonly used to transfer Web page files from their creator to the computer that acts as their server for everyone on the Internet. It's also commonly used to download programs and other files to your computer from other servers.

As a user, you can use FTP with a simple command line interface (for example, from the Windows MS-DOS Prompt window) or with a commercial program that offers a graphical user interface. Your Web browser can also make FTP requests to download programs you select from a Web page. Using FTP, you can also update (delete, rename, move, and copy) files at a server. You need to logon to an FTP server. However, publicly available files are easily accessed using anonymous FTP.

Basic FTP support is usually provided as part of a suite of programs that come with TCP/IP. However, any FTP client program with a graphical user interface usually must be downloaded from the company that makes it.

This was last updated in April 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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