What is File Transfer Protocol?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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File Transfer Protocol, also known as FTP, is a standard Internet protocol that is used primarily for exchanging files between one computer and another. In most cases it is used for the uploading of web pages by a remote computer to the computer that will act as the server or web host. At other times, file transfer protocol can be used for uploading graphics, music files, and other things from a host computer onto any other computer.

There are two main ways to implement file transfer protocol. A simple line interface can be used by typing in commands manually. This technique is generally daunting for beginners, but may be easier and more effective for experienced users.

The other way of using file transfer protocol is to use a commercial graphics-based program. These can be downloaded from the Internet or purchased in a software suite. Often, web design software will come with an FTP program built right in. This type of software is generally much simpler to use for novice web designers or web surfers.


To use most file transfer protocol software applications to upload files to a website, one must click and drag the files that need to be uploaded to a server supported web address. If the user has already purchased a domain name and acquired web hosting, this information should be readily available. There will be a section on the screen where the web address will be typed. Once all files have been moved to the correct location, one must only click “upload” or “load” to move the files to the site.

If the files are not loaded once this process is complete, there are a few things that may have happened. First, the hypertext markup language (HTML) coding may be typed incorrectly. This is most common when the codes have been typed by hand into a word processor because it is very easy to make a mistake. One mistyped word makes all the difference.

A file transfer protocol site upload will not work if the web address is mistyped. If this is not the case and all coding is correct, it’s a good idea to speak with the web host to find out what issues may be occurring. Oftentimes they will have customer support technicians to help consumers successfully upload their sites.

When using FTP to load music and other files, it is generally not necessary to have a special program installed. Most sites which offer these downloads have file transfer protocol software in place directly on their websites. If there is any problem with the download process, you should contact the site owner or webmaster for a solution.


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