Tools of the Trade – The FTP Client

An FTP client is the software that moves material up and down between your local computer and the server at your internet host. Your Website building software will incorporate one and most of the major hosts incorporate one into their package.

When you set up a shop, or a pre-packaged business site the FTP work will normally be done for you, out of sight, but eventually you may well find the need to exercise control of your site beyond what these built-in functions can help you with. As an obvious example is part of their security checks Google or Yahoo will want you to place special files in the root directory of your site to establish that you really ‘own’ it and are entitled to detailed information about its day-to-day operations.

What is an FTP Client?

FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, that is the protocol used to transfer data from one host to another over the internet. The ‘Client’ bit is left over from earlier generations of internet operations when one computer in a network was the ‘client’ of another. Some terminals were ‘dumb’ with all the real work being done on the server.

Open Source FTP Clients

You never need pay for FTP Software, if it isn’t available as part of your hosting package there are several packages available as free open source software on the net and one called ‘Filezilla’ (do a Google Search for it) is as good as any. When you’ve downloaded it call your host’s helpline to set up the ‘Site Manager’ panel and all will be revealed.

The Remote Site

The Remote Site is the site containing your material on your host’s server. It looks remarkably like the internal filing system of your own computer with files held in an information tree. This most easily explained using an example:

1. Your ‘Panda’ files are held

2. In a branch of your ‘Mammals’ directory which is itself

3. In a branch of your ‘Wild Life’ directory.

On my own server I can see that the files for my main site are held in a ‘root’ called MWT, and to find my art work I click through a directory “sites” then “all” then on to “images” and in there the actual image files are held in various sub-directories depending on the size of the picture.

Moving a File

Google demands that a recognition file is held in the root of every site you want to them to monitor. This stops other people monitoring private information on your site. They ask me to place a special file – generated by them named ‘googleb9111d1d1e774caf.html’ (names changed of course) onto my root. I download the file onto my computer, then use Filezilla to place it into my root.