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FTP  File Transfer Protocol

This is the protocol for data transfer of files such as programs-- applications, pictures, sounds, movies.  This protocol allows transfer of large files.  These files are usually in a zipped (compressed) format.  To download files from an FTP site simply enter in your browser the following

OR use a program like Fetch (Mac) or WS-FTP (PC) 

FTP is sometimes known as anonymous FTP because the host computer does not require the user to have an account to gain information from the computer.  Using FTP is like going to a yard sale, there is a lot of junk and occasionally a treasure to be found.  You can find just about anything at FTP sites.  You can find a picture of a tapir (South American animal), a movie QuickTime of JFK's inaugural address, recipes, sound files of a dog barking, games, games, games and sometimes viruses.  

The use FTP

  1. Launch your FTP software
  2. Tell your FTP client the address of the computer you are seeking
  3. Tell the FTP server who you are (type anonymous)
  4. Enter a password (this is usually your e-mail address)
  5. Browse the directories to find the files you want
  6. Download the files you want
  7. Log off

A few years ago, using FTP was more difficult than today.  Today there are sites that allow us to look and determine what we want and then the site controls the FTP to our machine.  Several sites that are very popular are all kinds of programs  software  all kinds of files including clip art and graphics   software

So now you have the file but usually it is not in a form for immediate use.  You have to either uncompress (unzip) it or install it before you can use it.

Unzipping a file.  Sometimes your browser will do this for you.  If it does not you will have to use a decompression software (PKUnzip or WinZip are popular Windows programs, StuffIt is the Mac compression software).

Install a file (program).  Most software comes with self-install programs so all you have to do is double-click the file and away you go.  Older software has to be launched by you and opened manually from within the application.

How do you tell the form of the file you have downloaded.  The .zip (PC) or .sit (MAC) are your clue.  The three/four letters following a file name called extensions tell you the file type or give a clue to how the file is compressed.

This page was updated on:  04/10/02