Skip to content
Ref » Home » Blog » Technology » Computing

How File Transfer Protocol (FTP) In A Computer Network Works

In a cloud computing context, most of us routinely use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) without even knowing while connecting online. However, only a few can expressively define FTP uses to satisfaction. But don’t worry; you are not all alone in this! For one thing, we will boil down everything so you can fully understand what FTP is and how it usually works.

Of course, most of the billions of computer users don’t know either, and to tell you the truth, that’s perfectly alright. Even though it’s your passport to the Internet, you never have to consider it unless you are a tech geek. This is among the last things — though remarkably useful to those using the internet daily — that you would try to consider. So, follow the leads.

Markedly, your computing device is hooked up to the Internet, one way or the other. When you go online to do a few emails here and there, do some internet shopping, or even chat with a friend over the web, your request must be sent to the right destination. And also, the responses and information are handled elsewhere, so they won’t need to return directly to you.

Technically, an IP Address plays a significant role in all that. And now, with that in mind, let’s dive in so that you can learn more about the necessities of having a working Computer Network powered by a seamless File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Mechanism in place. So, the next time you engage online to serve the World Wide Web (WWW), you’ll have a technical clue.

Understanding The General File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Objectives

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard internet protocol provided by TCP/IP for transmitting files from one host to another. Oftentimes, FTP is mainly used for transferring web page files from their creator to the computer that acts as a server for other computers on the internet. In addition, it is also used for downloading data files to computers from other servers.

We usually recommend using an application tool such as GoAnywhere for fast data file transfers and downloading data files to computers from other servers. In other words, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) refers to transferring files between devices over a network. Perse, the process works when one party allows another to send or receive files over the Internet.

Originally, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) was used as a technical way for computer users to communicate and exchange information between two physical devices. Today, it’s now used to store files in the form of cloud computing technology for future reference — something which is usually a secure location that is held remotely.

On that note, it’s clear that FTP may be used by businesses and individuals alike — to transfer files from one computer to another or by websites to upload or download files from their servers.

A Great FTP Processing Tool:
  • provides a seamless way of sharing files
  • offers autonomous data storage and secure access protocols
  • gives unlimited private data content storage space in various forms
  • helps in transferring critical data more reliably and efficiently
  • is used to encourage the use of remote computer devices

Although transferring files from one system to another is straightforward, sometimes, it can cause problems. For example, two systems may have different file conventions. Two systems may have different ways of representing text and data. Two systems may have different directory structures. FTP protocol overcomes these problems very seamlessly.

In particular, by establishing two connections between hosts. One connection is used for data transfer, and the other for connection control. At its core, the FTP is a way to connect two computers safely to help transfer files between two or more points. Simply put, it’s how files are securely shared between parties.

How The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Mechanism Works

File transfer protocol allows individuals and businesses to share electronic files with others without having to be in the same space. This can be done using an FTP client or through the cloud. Regardless of the option, both parties require a working Internet connection. Markedly, a web browser like Google Chrome has FTP clients that enable users to transfer files.

Especially from their computer to a server and vice versa. Some users may want to use a third-party FTP client because many offer extra features. FTP clients that are free to download include FileZilla Client, FTP Voyager, WinSCP, CoffeeCup Free FTP, and Core FTP. Many people have used FTP before without even realizing it, such as shown in this video:

In simple terms, just as its name suggests, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standardized network protocol used to transfer files between a client and a server over the internet or any other TCP/IP network. Perse, FTP has been designed to promote sharing of files across all types of computers. A strength of FTP is the reliable and efficient bulk transfer of files.

FTP is popular with website owners and web designers to upload files to the servers of their web hosting companies. Another common use case is the exchange of files between companies. FTP is the de facto method for transferring large volumes of data in many organizations. It’s true that if you have ever downloaded a file from a web page, you’ve used FTP in a way.

Related Resource: How To Use FTP To Upload WordPress Files In A Few Simple Steps

The first step is to log in, which may occur automatically or manually, inputting a username and password. FTP will also require access to an FTP server through a specific port number. Once you access the FTP server through your FTP client, you can now transfer files. But, not all public FTP servers require you to sign into their software system for them to work.

For your information, this is because some web servers enable you to access them anonymously after downloading and installing the required system files. That being said, below is a simple illustration of the file-transferring process.

How A Computer Network File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Works

The above figure shows the basic model of the FTP. The FTP client has three components: the user interface, the control process, and the data transfer process. This means the origin server has two components driving its primary purpose.

These components are:
  • Control Connection: In this case, the control connection uses very simple rules for communication. We can transfer a line of command or sequence of responses at a time through a control connection. The control connection is made between the control processes. The control connection remains connected during the entire interactive FTP session.
  • Data Connection: As for this one, the Data Connection uses very complex rules as data types may vary. First of all, the data connection is made between data transfer processes. Secondly, the data connection opens when a command comes for transferring the files and closes when the file is transferred.

Some notable examples of FTP clients include CoffeeCup Free FTP, Core FTP, FileZilla Client, FTP Voyager, and WinSCP.

The Simple Steps To Use A Free FTP Files Transfer Software Application

Just as mentioned, FTP allows for the transfer of files through the Internet. FTP transfers require an Internet connection. Downloading files means transferring a file from a server to a computer or device, while uploading is the opposite — transferring a file from a computer to a server. There are various FTP types, like anonymous and password protected.

Anonymous allows the transfer of data without encryption or using a password. This is good for files that can be distributed without restrictions. Meanwhile, password-protected FTP uses a username and password to access the files. A secure FTP often offers increased security when transferring, allowing for implicit transport layer security (TLS).

Learn More: FileZilla | How The No #1 Free FTP Files Transfer Software Works

FileZilla is a great example of an FTP Files Transfer Software from which we can borrow ideas. Whereby this is a free software, cross-platform FTP application consisting of both FileZilla Client and FileZilla Server. However, its client binaries are available only for Windows, Linux, and macOS — while its server binaries are available for Windows only.

An FTP Files Transfer Software Application like FileZilla can also employ explicit TLS essentially, which upgrades the connection to an encrypted connection for added security. A File Transfer Protocol is one of many protocols dictating how computer devices and computing application systems behave on the Internet.

Other related protocols include:

FTP enables computers on the Internet to transfer files back and forth and is an essential tool for building and maintaining websites. With that in mind, to simplify things for you, let’s now look at FTP servers and FTP clients.

How FTP Servers Usually Work

FTP Servers are the solutions used to facilitate file transfers across the internet. If you send files using FTP, files are either uploaded or downloaded to the FTP server. When you upload files, the files are transferred from a personal computer to the server. When you’ve downloaded files, the files are transferred from the server to your personal computer.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), or the language the internet uses to execute commands, is used to transfer files via FTP. Generally, FTP Servers can be considered the midpoint between the sender and the recipient of a file. For FTP servers to work, you need the server address. Here’s an example of what this address may look like “ftp.example.net.”

Sometimes, the server address will be given as a numeric address, like “12.345.678.90”. Depending on the type of FTP server you use and the needed security level, you may have to input a username and password. Some FTP servers allow for anonymous connection, which does not require entering a name or password to gain access.

Although FTP is one way to transfer files, other options exist. So, what are the overall benefits of using FTP over other transfer means? Well, some of the key benefits companies can reap when using FTP servers are as follows.

1. Cloud Security

Ultimately, the biggest benefit of using FTP servers over other choices is the level of security that these managed options can provide. FTPS and SFTP, both secure (encrypted) file transfer protocols, add another layer of security to traditional FTP transfers, and many FTP servers support both FTPS and SFTP to protect the shared data better.

This assures you that your sensitive files won’t fall into the wrong hands, as they are encrypted in transit. You may be concerned that other parties could intercept your transfer when you send sensitive data. Anyone with just the right application tools or a little bit of knowledge could be capable of intercepting files.

You may also be concerned that your transfers may be subject to viruses or other malware. Fortunately, when you use a managed FTP server, the expert vendor provides the security necessary to keep data safe.

2. Managed Control

Another benefit of using an FTP server is the level of control that you can gain over your data. Many FTP servers, especially industry-leading ones, offer granular access controls allowing your administrators to determine who can upload, download, edit, delete, or share files; and what folders they have certain permissions within.

Not everyone in your organization needs the same level of access to your files. For example, the CFO might need to see sensitive financial records, while your intern does not. The ability to control file and solution access based on individual user accounts can add even more security to your files.

3. Large File Sizes

Have you ever tried to send a file to a recipient via email only to receive a message that your file is too large to send? If your organization deals with a massive amount of data, you won’t want your entire file-sharing process interrupted due to too large files. Instead, you can use an FTP server that lets you send gigabytes of data simultaneously.

4. Improved Workflow

A file-sharing process that is not uniform across your organization can hurt your business’s productivity. Instead of sharing a single file at a time, you can send large amounts of data instantly. You can also continue to work while large transfers are being made or schedule massive transfers for nights or weekends.

So your workflow is not interrupted. Also, having an FTP server gives you a single location to store your files. This reduces the time your team spends hunting for a specific piece of data. It also reduces the chance of lost files.

5. Disaster Recovery

You never know when you may encounter lost or compromised data issues. When you choose a Top FTP Provider, your vendor can ensure that your files are never lost, from your everyday data to your most important and sensitive files.

When disaster strikes, like an interruption to your internet connection, a loss of power, or even an actual natural disaster, you don’t have to worry about losing work. Instead, your data is regularly and automatically backed up to another location. Then, if you need to restore your data, you can do so by coordinating with your FTP Server Vendor to get all the support you’ll need.

How FTP Clients Usually Work

It’s important to realize that an FTP Client is a program that implements a file transfer protocol that allows you to transfer files between two hosts on the internet. On one side, it allows users to connect to a remote host and upload or download the files. It has a set of commands to connect to a host, transfer the files between you and your host and close the connection.

On the other hand, the FTP Program is also available as a built-in component in a Web browser. This GUI-based FTP client makes the file transfer easy and does not require remembering the FTP commands. FTP software is relatively straightforward to set up. Perse, FileZilla is a free, downloadable FTP client. Below is a tutorial video guide about using it.

Other examples of FTP clients include Transmit, WinSCP, and WS_FTP. You type in the server address you wish to access, the port. And also the password for accessing the server. Once access has been granted, the user’s files on their local system and the accessed server will be visible. The user can download files from the server to the local system.

Or rather, upload files from the local system to the server. They can also change files on the server if they have the proper authorization. On that note, below are a few known pros and cons.

Advantages:

  • Speed: One of the biggest advantages of FTP is speed. FTP is one of the fastest ways to transfer files from one computer to another.
  • Efficient: It is more efficient as we do not need to complete all the operations to get the entire file.
  • Security: We must log in with the username and password to access the FTP server. Therefore, we can say that FTP is more secure.
  • Back & forth movement: FTP allows us to transfer the files back and forth. Suppose you are a company manager, you send some information to all the employees, and they all send information back on the same server.

Disadvantages:

  • The standard requirement of the industry is that all FTP transmissions should be encrypted. However, not all FTP providers are equal, and not all providers offer encryption. So, we must look out for the FTP providers that provide encryption.
  • FTP serves two operations, i.e., to send and receive large files on a network. However, the size limit of the file is 2GB which can be sent. It also doesn’t allow you to run simultaneous transfers to multiple receivers.
  • Passwords and file contents are sent in clear text that allows unwanted eavesdropping. So, it is quite possible that attackers can carry out the brute force attack by trying to guess the FTP password. It is also not compatible with every system.
  • FTP uses transmission control protocol (TCP) for transport needs — it never uses user datagram protocol (UDP).

Overall, FTP made handling data across the Internet much easier and more intuitive. Without it and its later iterations, we would not easily stream video content, use video calls, play online games, share files, or enjoy cloud storage. Today, it operates behind the scenes as a backbone for data transfer from servers worldwide to millions every second daily.

Summary Notes:

At all costs, just as we aforementioned, using an FTP server is a common solution for businesses that want to keep their data safe. A hosted FTP server could be the answer if you’re looking for the right option to maintain data security. Luckily, you know more about FTP servers, how they work, and how they can benefit your business, right?

Now over 50 years old, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a critical piece of the Internet infrastructure that allows the quick and secure transfer of data online. Without FTP, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of today’s World Wide Web, from web-based online gaming to movie streaming, video conferencing, and the emerging Metaverse. The list is just endless!

Related Resource: How phpMyAdmin Helps Manage Your Website MySQL Databases

For your information, individual FTP clients provide different features that allow users to modify the way they upload and download files. For instance, the program lets you set file bandwidth limits if you use FileZilla. Essentially, this enables you to control upload and download speeds, which can be helpful if you manage multiple file transfers simultaneously.

Other features you may want to look for in an FTP client include public-key authentication, the ability to set file compression levels, or tools that enable you to search a server using file masks. On that note, you can Consult Us for more help if you need more support. Or rather, share your thoughts, suggestions, or contributions in our comments.

More Related Resource Articles


Explore Blog Tags:


Get Free Updates!