How do I use FTP to manage files on my shared hosting account?

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What is FTP?

The File Transfer Protocol or FTP is used to transfer data from one computer to another computer in one network, or in web hosting cases, which is very common, the internet. FTP is said to be the simplest way to exchange files over the Internet, but is not very secure. But, in order for it to be safe, you can set it up and add security features. For example, you can put in a feature that lets you continue a download that did not finish, which is a very nice feature for those who use connections that always lose their Internet connection. This is commonly used for downloading files from the Internet. It also lets you transfer files back-and-forth. This is what makes FTP crucial importance for anyone who wants to create a Web page both entry levels and professionals.

FTP is made with a client-server structure and uses a different set up for control and data transmissions to the client and the server. FTP can usually access it with the use of a username and password, but can connect anonymously if the server is configured to allow it. For a secure passing of data that protects the username and password, and summarizing the content of the data, FTP usually comes with SSL/TLS (FTPS). There are many different types FTP clients that you can download from the Internet that is sometimes free and also some that you can first try for a few days to a month, then you can choose to buy it or not if you like what it has to offer you.

How does an FTP work and how do I use it?

FTP lets you have access to the client by logging in to the computer, to pick files on your computer and transfer them to or from your Internet. FTP clients commonly have a window with two panels. The panel on the left displays the files on your computer and on the right, you can see the files on the Internet. Using this client, you can transfer files by clicking on an item, then drag them to the other panel or you can highlight a file and click one of the directional arrows that are located between the panels. There are 4 types of transferring data to the Internet that you can choose from:

  •  EBCDIC or Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code is used for simple text between 2 hosts using this mode’s character set
  •  Image mode is also called Binary Code, the machine sends data by byte, and the machine that gets it will keep it. This mode is always used for all utilization of FTP
  •  ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange is used for text. Data, if needed, shall be changed from the host that sends the character representation to 8-bit ASCII before sending it, and to the receiver of the host.
  •  Local mode allows 2 computers with the same set up to send data in a suitable format without changing it to ASCII

Disadvantages of FTP when it comes to Security

FTP is not recommendable when it comes to security, because it has many weaknesses. It does not read and understand its upcoming data. A solution to some of these problems is to get TLS-protected type of the unsecured protocols or even a better and more secure and safe protocol such as SFTP/SCP that includes application of the Secure Shell protocol.

It has many issues such as the following:

  •  Username protection
  •  Port stealing
  •  Packet capture
  •  Brute force, bounce and spoof attacks