FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is one of the most popular methods of transferring files between your desktop computer and the web space that is provided with the web hosting package that you have purchased. Most web hosting packages offer you the facility to create an unlimited number of password protected FTP accounts for use with your web space; this allows you to provide an unlimited number of people with access to your web space if individual users require access. FTP can be used in conjunction with most basic file explorers that form part of desktop operating systems, although to make the most of FTP access it is recommended that you use a third-party desktop application.
What are the advantages of using FTP?
Using FTP can provide you with an easy and very fast method of transferring files between your own computer and the server on which your web hosting account is hosted. The main advantages of using FTP include:
- Simple and easy to use – in most cases uploading files to your web space using FTP is a pretty painless process since it all you need to do is drag and drop files from your desktop into your FTP client – if you choose to use the file explorer application that comes as part of the operating system that you are using then you will find that it isn’t much different from dragging files between local folders
- Universally supported – FTP server software is available for all major operating systems platforms meaning that FTP access is a feature provided with both Windows web hosting packages and Linux web hosting packages – there are also FTP clients available for most major desktop operating systems, although most have the FTP client feature incorporated into them anyway
- Transfer any file – FTP can be used for the transfer of any file regardless of the extension of that file meaning that you can upload files to your web space that aren’t even related to the design or functionality of your website if you wish to.
The advantages of using FTP show why it has become one of the most popular methods of transferring files between servers and desktop computers.
What are the disadvantages of using FTP?
There can also be disadvantages to using FTP which is why there are several other methods for transferring files between servers and desktop computers in place. Some of the disadvantages that you may experience could include:
- Unsecure – FTP file transfers are usually unencrypted and passwords are sent in plain text meaning that it can be fairly easy for a hacker to eavesdrop on an active FTP session and pick up the password for the FTP account that is being used – if a hacker then gains access to your web space you could face the problems of them injecting your files with malicious code or uploading files into your web space which would then allow them to gain access to the hosting server as a whole – more secure methods such as SFTP and SCP have arisen because of the unsecure nature of FTP
- Slow – depending on the speed of your local internet connection and how close you are to the server that you are trying to connect to, you may find FTP to be slow – if you want to be able to access your server quickly via FTP then you should evaluate the speed of the connection that the server is hosted on as well as the speed of your own local internet connection.
The disadvantages of using FTP aren’t likely to affect you if you are using it for what it’s meant for, although the topic of speed may have an affect on you when uploading large files since it means that it will take a while for them to finish uploading.
In conclusion, despite the disadvantages that are attached to the technology, FTP still remains one of the most popular file transfer methods available to general users. Web hosting providers will be offering FTP access with their web hosting packages for a long time to come yet due to the simple nature of the technology; FTP clients are available for all major operating systems and the drag and drop functionality available guarantees that anyone can use it with ease.