What FTP is and Some FTP Client Options

Screenshots of different FTP programs

Overwhelmed with new acronyms? FTP is probably another one that gets lost in the alphabet shuffle. Don’t let it slip too far though as it’s a very important player in your Web site.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is a protocol for exchanging files over the internet from one computer to another. Do you need to memorize that definition? Probably not. You do need to know though that FTP and FTP Clients allow you to everything from copy files to the server that is hosting your site or backup your entire site onto your computer or school server.

Let’s say a company like Siteground.com is hosting your Web site. To get the files from your school computers to the Siteground computers you need to FTP them there. Basically, you’re just uploading files on your computer to space on their computer where your Web site lives.

Files are transferred with FTP clients. An FTP client is basically just a program for your computer that helps you connect to another computer and move your files.

Sometimes you need to use your FTP client to move a batch of photos into a folder on your site, other times you use your FTP client to add a file so when people bookmark your site on the iPhone a cool logo shows up on their screen.

There are a variety of FTP clients out there. Some are free and some cost. Many people use Fetch or Filezilla. Lifehacker.com actually had a poll some time ago where they asked readers to vote on their top 5 FTP clients. The post has a nice description of each of the top five and links to them. Their top clients are a mix of Mac and PC programs as well.

Clients are really a matter of personal preference. I have always used free ones and been happy. I would recommend trying the free ones out and then moving to the paid ones if they don’t meet your needs.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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