Back in the "Stone-Age"
of computers/networking (which is just 25
year ago!), users were only able to
"dream" of "Online Data Exchange
between Systems" (something we take today for
But in those days, each computer manufacturer use a proprietary
operating system and proprietary communication protocols
("boxing" in their clients, ensuring they could only
purchase systems expansions from them to be able to connect any
That was a huge problem for the DoD
(US Department of Defense) and its DARPA (Defense Advanced Research
Project Agency), because they could not exchange data between the
different research locations.
They solved that problem (I think in 1972) by requiring support
for TCP/IP on all computers, which the DoD and their contractors
were to purchase in future.
And since the DoD paid high prices (very high prices ! )
for their equipment, the computer industry had to agree to
implement TCP/IP and its component:
It does EXACTLY that: transfer files (ok, it includes
also the possibility to list directories, change directories and
a few other commands, but these were mainly used to locale the
file to be transferred) and it does this REGARDLESS of
the operating systems of the systems:
It does not matter anymore, if the Server modules is not
compatible with the Client-module, as long as both systems have TCP/IP-protocol
installed and the server has an FTP-Server running.
FTP allows to transfer files, it does NOT allow direct
file-manipulation (like connection to a database-file to add a
If you like to modify a file, you need:
- use FTP to transfer the file to your local system
- modify the file
- use FTP to transfer the file back to its original system.
When to use FTP:
- in case that the systems do not have matching Client-to-Server
- Wide-Area-Networks, which are usual slow and need to be
The growth of the Internet has made FTP an important protocol,
because many companies make updates/patches of their software on
FTP-servers for download.
But you can create your own "Intranet" FTP-server,
Windows 95 Microsoft
"Personal Web Server"
Most Internet FTP-servers allow "Anonymous" FTP, i.e. when you are prompted for the Username,
enter either "ftp" or "anonymous".
As password, you will then be prompted to enter your e-mail
There a different methods to operate an FTP-Client:
FTP: GUI-Clients (Ipswitch WS-FTP)