An FTP program
allows you to upload files
from your hard drive to a web server (or another location on the Internet);
or to download files
from web servers (or other locations) over the
Internet and into your computer.
A good FTP program will also allow you to set file permissions on
web servers (often necessary when you use a Linux web server or other Unix-based
web server to run scripts). And some will allow you to automate large
uploads or downloads too.
FTP is an abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol and it's one of
the basic protocols of the Net (along with HTTP, which stands for HyperText
Transfer Protocol and which makes web pages capable of being viewed through
browsers; and SMTP, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol than allows email to
If you're involved in any type of web site development - either as
an amateur or a professional - or if you routinely transfer large numbers
of files over the Net, an FTP program is essential software. And this
is despite the fact that some web authoring programs (eg:
DreamWeaver, MS Frontpage etc) now have an in-built FTP program to transfer
web sites from your hard drive to your web server and vice-versa.
FTP programs used to be commercial software and many companies are
still trying to make a living selling commercial FTP software today.
But the limitations of the FTP protocol (ie it's not evolving any more),
the growth of the Net and the profusion of excellent free FTP
alternatives has forced other companies to diversify into new areas.
Anyway, here's where you can get the best FTP programs at no cost: