What is FTP and How to Use FTP?

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If you are a web developer, FTP is the tool you will really need to make changes to your website safely and easily, including when you need to transfer large amounts of files. In this article, we will discuss everything about FTP, starting from what it means, how it works, and how to use it.

What is FTP? FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol or a protocol that allows the exchange of information between servers, so that users can download or upload files to their computers.

In this article I will discuss the ins and outs of FTP, starting from what an FTP server is, the definition of FTP, the function of an FTP server, examples of FTP, to how an FTP server works. In the next section, we will also discuss what an FTP client is and how to use it.

What is FTP and How it Works?

What is FTP and How to Use FTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is an internet service designed to establish a connection to a particular internet server or computer, so that users can send files to a computer (download) or send files to a server (upload). FTP servers are things that are currently widely used to exchange data, because it's easier than using wired or physical devices.

It is hoped that with this article readers will be able to understand what FTP is and how to use FTP to do remote servers. Remote servers are very useful for managing websites without having to enter into a hosting account or Virtual Private Server (VPS).

At its core, FTP is a way to connect two computers in the most secure way, helping to transfer files between two or more points. So files can be shared safely. As stated above, an FTP server is a solution used to facilitate file transfers on the Internet. The way it works is like this:

If you send files using FTP, the files are uploaded or downloaded to the FTP server. When you upload a file, it is transferred from your personal computer to the server. When you want to download a file, the file will be transferred from the server to your personal computer.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), or the language the Internet uses to execute commands, is used to transfer files via FTP. The FTP server can be thought of as the middle point between the sender and recipient of files. 

To make an FTP server work, you need a server address. Sometimes, the server address will be given as a numeric address, such as “12.345.678.90”. Even for FTP servers that use high-level security, a username and password will be required. However, some servers allow anonymous use.

Who Discovered FTP?

Before discussing the history of what FTP is, I will explain a little about the relationship between Telnet and FTP. Telnet is used to connect directly (indirect network), while FTP uses an indirect connection. These two types of TCP/IP connections are the two main models introduced.

Indirect connection means taking the resources from the remote-host and using them on the local system. Then transfer it back to the remote-host.

The first FTP standard was RFC 114 which was issued in 1971, even before TCP and IP existed. This standard is used to define the basic commands used for planning communication systems that want to use them. The FTP protocol used for internet standards was compiled by the Internet Engineering Task Force committee as a series of official RFC (Request for Comments) documents.

FTP was created with the aim that users can move files from one place to another. Like the TCP/IP protocol in general, it is based on a client/server model.

How does FTP Works Explain?

In short, here's how FTP works:

  • User uses FTP client for file transfer.
  • The FTP client makes a connection request to the server.
  • The server responds to the request, starting the file transfer service.
  • Users download or upload data via FTP client.

So, to establish an FTP connection, there must be two parties connected to each other on the network. The user must request permission by providing credentials to the FTP server. Some public FTP servers may not require credentials to access files, which is commonly known as an anonymous FTP connection.

There are two types of communication channels in an FTP connection, namely the command channel, which is carried out with instructions and responses, then the data channel, which includes the data distribution process. FTP connection mode is also divided into two, namely active mode and passive mode.

In active mode, users who already have permission to use FTP to send requests to the server, with the intention of making changes. Then, the server will respond by granting that access.

Meanwhile, passive mode is used when active mode cannot be performed because it is blocked by a firewall. In this mode, the user will provide command channels and data channels. Passive mode only requires the server to "monitor" the connection, not try to make a connection back to the user as in active mode.

How do I use FTP Command?

There are three ways to use FTP. The easiest is to use the FTP command line, such as using Command Prompt for Windows or Terminal on Mac/Linux. Many developers still use it today to transfer files using FTP.

Users can also use a web browser to communicate with the FTP server. In addition, web browsers are easier to use when users want to access large directories on the server. However, this method is less effective and slower than using a dedicated FTP service.

The most common way to use FTP today is to use an FTP client service, especially for web developers. FTP clients are felt to be far more flexible than command prompts or web browsers, and are easier to use for managing files and more reliable than other methods.

In addition, the FTP client also provides more features than other methods, for example allowing users to transfer large files and take advantage of synchronization.

What is the Main Function of FTP protocol?

There are several FTP functions that are currently widely used, such as for uploading web pages to the Internet via web hosting. Other functions such as updating revisions of programs are performed by FTP developer applications. In full, the following is a function of the FTP that currently exists.

  • Uploading website pages to the web server/web hosting to the internet
  • Browsing and downloading files from public software sites
  • Sending large files across two partitions may be too large for attachments in an email
  • Download and upload content, such as coursework to an FTP server
  • Distributing the final revision of the program by software developers.

Of course not only that, there are many other FTP functions that can be utilized in carrying out daily work. You can develop it yourself and adjust to the needs of the required use. However, basically the simple function of FTP is to make it easier for users to move files from one place to another.

FTP Client Application

FTP client application

On the internet today there are many FTP client applications available. One of the famous FTP applications is FileZilla. This FTP application is widely used to perform remote FTP. Not only complete, but also usable on various operating systems, such as Linux and Windows. Here are 3 examples of the best FTP clients available on the internet.

1. FileZilla

FileZilla FTP Client is an FTP client that is widely used to make remote FTP connections with complete features. This FTP application supports several well-known operating systems such as Linux and Windows. The advantage is that it can perform simultaneous transitions. 

When uploading files but the connection is lost it can be repeated. However, this FTP application has the disadvantage that it takes a long time to upload files, so the more and the bigger the files, the longer the upload process will be.


Although not as popular as FileZilla, WinSCP is an application that is also quite popular, especially for Windows users. Some of the protocols that can be handled by WinSCP are SFTP, SCP, FTP, and WebDev. 

The advantages of WinSCP are support for SSH passwords, interactive keyboards, public keys, and Kerberos authentication. As well as being integrated with Pageant for full public key authentication support with SSH. Unfortunately, this FTP application can only be used on Windows.


What is FTP GPTF? GFTP is an FTP client application that is only available on the Linux operating system. This application is an open source project, so anyone can develop and use it. Already supports FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, SSH, FSP protocols. Unfortunately, this FTP application can only be used to make FTP connections using local networks only.

Apart from the three applications above, of course there are still several FTP client applications currently available.

How is FileZilla used?

Because FileZilla is a popular FTP client application, I will discuss how to use FileZilla to make an FTP connection. Before continuing this guide make sure:

  • Filezilla already installed on the computer
  • FTP login information.

You can download the FileZilla application via the FileZilla Client for Windows page. Meanwhile, if you use Linux, you can download it via the FileZilla Client page for Linux.

We have discussed the steps for making an FTP connection using FileZilla in the How to Use FileZilla article.

How do I Transfer Files using WinSCP?

The second software that can be used to make FTP connections is WinSCP. This FTP software can only run on Windows operating systems. Here's how to use WinSCP.

a. Step 1 – Download WinSCP

The first step you need to do is download the WinSCP software through the official WinSCP page.

b. Step 2 - "File Protocol" select the "FTP" menu

What is FTP and How to Use FTP?


Host Name : Domain Name
Port Number : 21
Username : FTP username in cPanel
Password : FTP password in cPanel

What is FTP and How to Use FTP?

  • Click "Login"
  • After the connection process is successful, it will enter where the hosting folder is.

Apart from that, you can also make an FTP connection using your mobile device. Both using Android and iOS. Regarding how to use it and so on, I will discuss it in the next article.


The existence of the FTP feature makes it easier for you to manage website files that are on the hosting page. The convenience provided by the FTP feature can certainly make work easier. Users do not need to enter the web hosting service to manage files, such as replacing, deleting and adding new files.

After following this article, you should be able to make an FTP connection to a server or remote host and know what FTP is, what FTP means, how an ftp server works, and what ftp server functions are. Hopefully this article is useful and can be useful.

Finished! It's easy, right? With an FTP server, you can upload and download files. As a web developer, we recommend that you use an FTP client to access the website that you manage.

In addition, it will also be easier for you to create and delete directories and read large files on the server by using FTP. We hope this article has helped you understand what FTP is and how it works and is used. Thanks for reading.

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