Chapters 3 : Basic Internet Services

Sections 5 : File Transfer Protocol

File Transfer Protocol

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) allows files to be electronically transferred from one computer to another. Orginally FTP was developed to allow transfer of file to and from different type of computers on the Internet. If a computer can 'speak' FTP, then a user can send a copy to another computer and retrieve files from another computer. If the user has permission, they can even rename and delete files. The most common use of FTP today, is to move software and large text files across the Internet.

"Anonymous FTP was designed to allow users to copy files from remote computers without having an account already set up. Anonymous FTP only allows you to copy files. You cannot rename, delete, or otherwise change the originals". Some Anonymous FTP site will create one directory to allow files to copied to. This directory is typically referred to as pub or public. There are many anonymous FTP sites. Several popular anonymous FTP Sites:

FTP can also be used for transferring a large number of files as one file. These type of files are referred to as archives. Archives are considered binary files. Archives can contain a collection of files of different types. The benefits of archive files are that it can be one file to transfer that is actually composed of several files. Archives are also typically compress files making it a smaller file size. Special programs use a formula to take out extra spaces and duplicate characters in order to shrink the file by as much as 80 or 90%. This saves a lot of time in transferring files over the Internet. Archive files are typically recognized by the filename extention. The filename will end with a "zip" "sit" or "cpt" extention. Most archived files for DOS or Windows PCs use the extension "zip". PKZIP is the standard program for DOS PCs, while WinZIP is the tandard program for Windows PCs. StuffIt handles all types of Macintosh archives, and the files will usually end with "sit" or "cpt".

Compressed files have to be uncompressed in order to use or read the archive's contains. Another form of an archive is a self-extracting archive. This file typically is an executable and end with the file extention of "exe" on a PC. The extention on Macintosh files is "sea". Once this file is downloaded, it just needs to be launched or run. It will uncompress and extract the files within the archive itself. TIP for PC users: Archives can contain many individual files. Before you uncompress a file, put it in an empty directory to keep from mixing new files in with existing ones.

You can obtain a copy of WinZip, PKUNZIP, and UnStuffIt below:

Some further information - old but, good can be found at an Internet FAQ site.


Archie is database of file names found at anonymous FTP sites. To use Archie, you must TELNET to an Archie server and execute a search. SURAnet maintains an excellent Archie Tutorial. Several major Archie servers:

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