FTP - How do I use FTP

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FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the simplest but not the most secure way to exchange files over the Internet.

The most common use for FTP is to download files from the Internet. In addition, the ability to transfer files back-and-forth makes FTP essential for anyone creating a web page, amateurs and professionals alike.

The virtual 'key' to get into an FTP site is the UserID and Password.

When connecting with an FTP Client, uploads and downloads could not be easier, and you have added security and additional features. For one, you are able to to resume a download that did not successfully finish, which is a very nice feature for people using dial-up connections who frequently lose their Internet connection.

When would I use FTP?

You would probably use FTP right after you download SMF for the first time, or right after you download an SMF modification package. If you are installing SMF, your next steps are to unzip the files and then upload them (usually via FTP) to your site. For more information on using FTP, please see Packages - How to upload packages using FTP.

What is an FTP client and how do I use it?

An FTP client is software installed on your computer that you can use to transfer files to an FTP server on another computer. It will have a way to allow you to log in to the remote computer, to choose files and directories on your computer, to choose files and directories on the remote computer, and to start transferring files to or from your computer.

The most common FTP clients have a window with two panes. The pane on the left displays the files on your computer and the pane on the right displays the files on the remote computer. With these clients, file transfers are as easy as dragging-and-dropping files from one pane to the other or by highlighting a file and clicking one of the direction arrows located between the panes. You can specify whether the file transfer mode should be ASCII-only or binary (which is important for non-ASCII files). In addition, most clients allow you to see and, if allowed by the remote FTP server, change file permission and/or ownership properties.

Many operating systems (such as Vista and Windows 7) have an FTP client built in.

If you are working with a large number or very big files, you may be interested in advanced FTP features such as multiple file transfer, "resume if interrupted", queueing and scheduling, FTP find (on the local or remote computer), file synchronization, and scripting.

What FTP clients are available?

Important: if you are using FileZilla beware that it can break your backups (read here for details). This is a problem that FileZilla developers know about.

You should be able to find a wide range of FTP programs by using a search engine, but here is a list of some that you can try:





  • Net2FTP (online file manager that can be uploaded to your website)
  • FireFTP (browser integration for Firefox)