Using FTP to transfer your files

Why use FTP?

Once you've got yourself web space, you need to upload your files to the site.  Most web space providers have a File Manager or a similar upload facility that allows you to manage your site.  You can transfer files and create folders, etc., through this.  The disadvantages of this is that you can only upload a few (maybe about 10 - 20, usually 5) files at a time.  If you need to uplaod a large number of files, this is very time consuming, and also you'll have to wait for a directory listing to be generated everytime.

I have found that the easiest way to manage your site is through FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  FTP is a protocol (or a standard of communication) that allow two computers to transfer files.  Using FTP, you can have direct access to the files and folders of your site, and you can manage them just like you would on your own hard disk.

Most web space providers like Tripod, Geocities, XOOM, Fortunecity, AcmeCity, all allow you to transfer files through FTP.  Tripod and Yahoo! Geocities have excellent FTP support.

You can also use FTP to connect to and download files from the large number of FTP sites on the internet.

Do I need additional software to use FTP?

Your web browser already has the ability to connect to FTP sites.  But to use FTP effectively, you need a software that is written especially for this purpose.  These are called FTP clients and there are a lot of good ones downloadable for free.  There are FTP Programs available for various operating systems.  (I assume you're using Windows, if you have Linux, you already have gFTP).  The program I use is called FTP Explorer [FTPx Home Page] (Windows 95/98) and it is free for home and educational use.  Other FTP clients for Windows are CuteFTP, CoffeeCup FreeFTP, etc.

How to connect to an FTP site

To demonstrate how easy it is to use FTP Programs, I'll use FTP Explorer as an example, no matter which FTP client you have, the procedure will be very similar.

First, you have to specify to the program the address of the FTP server to connect to.  FTP Explorer allows you to create a profile for each site.  Enter the following information.

The Connect Dialog Box

[ The FTP Explorer "Connect" Dialog Box ]

Profile Name:  Give the name you'd like to refer to your profile by, example: Karthik's Home Page

Host Address:  This is the address of the FTP Server you want to connect to.  Your provider should be able to tell you this address, if they have FTP transfer facility.  I've given the addresses of some of the web space providers:

Yahoo! Geocities

Login and Password:  Enter your account details.  Uncheck the Anonymous box (Anonymous refers to anonymous FTP, in which you login using "anonymous" as username and your email address as password.  This is usually the procedure for logging into FTP download sites.  Since you have a login ID and password for the site you want to log in to, you must leave the box unchecked).

Leave the other options like the Port Number, etc. as they are (Port Number will be 21, and the other options usually will be blank.  You need not specify any of these settings).

Click the Add button to store this profile.  From now, you can just double-click the name of the profile you just created to connect to the FTP site.

Double-click on the name of the profile you just created.  You will now be logged on to the FTP server and you'll be shown your directory contents, as seen below.

FTP Explorer

[ The FTP Explorer interface. ]

To upload/download files

To upload files all you have to do is:

File Selector box for uploading files

[ After clicking the Upload button, you're presented with a File Selection box ]

To download files,

You can also create new folders, etc., on the FTP server.