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Basic introduction to FTP

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is possibly one of the simplest and safest ways to transfer a large file from one computer to another.

Many of our clients need to send large volumes of data to our design teams including videos and photographs.

Traditional methods of sending data involves a CD or DVD and the good old postal service; however in an age of technology and digital communication this form of moving data carries additional costs, and most importantly slows down the total process of communication between the developer and client.

In this tutorial we are going to deal with 2 forms of FTP transfer - both are free.

The first method of FTP transfer will use Microsoft Explorer, this is available with all Windows based operating systems and is possibly the quickest to use without the need to install extra software packages. It is simple to use, and OK for sending a few files. It is a good place to start if you have not used FTP before.

The Second method of FTP transfer will use a program called "Filezilla” published by and is supplied FREE of charge and available for instant download without asking for any personal details. This is quite simple for new users, and much better for sending many (or large) files.

Pros and cons of FTP using windows explorer

Microsoft explorer allows you to start transferring files without the need to install a 3rd party software application, and is a simple solution if you need to simply transfer a few files. It is a good introduction to FTP.
More advanced users, or users who wish to transfer several large files will wish to install a proper FTP client such as Filezilla.

A major drawback to using this method of transfer is the common result in the transfer hanging (or freezing) as communication has been lost between the two computers. Microsoft Explorer does not communicate back to the server in between transfers, making the receiving FTP server assume that the transfer has completed or simply stopped resulting in the transfer freezing.

FTP Access using Windows Explorer

Unknown to most people who use Microsoft Windows, their operating system comes configured ready for simple FTP transfer.

In this section of the tutorial we will cover the simple steps of FTP through Windows Explorer. This tutorial will use screen shots from Microsoft Vista however the same solution is available in Windows XP as well.

Step 1
Open "My Computer” by double left clicking on the my computer icon on your desktop or also accessible from the start button (Bottom Left).

Step 2
A new window will open, as shown below.

Windows Explorer windowWindows Explorer window

In the address bar at the top of the new window (currently named "Computer”) you will need to type in the FTP Server address that you have been supplied.

In this example we are going to use an FTP server configured for this tutorial, once entered you need to simply hit enter.

The follow screen will appear after a few moments, requesting a username and password (if the FTP server has been configured with one)

Logging onto FTP server using Windows ExplorerLogging onto FTP server using Windows Explorer

Once you have entered your correct Username and Password you simply need to click Log On and your computer will make the connection to the destination server.

Congratulations. You have just established an FTP connection with a remote computer and you can start transferring files.

Moving Files Using Microsoft Explorer

Once you have logged into the server, you will be presented with a window that should look very familiar (Shown Below). Your view of the remote computer is identical to the view you have seen a million times - exploring your own computers hard drive through Windows Explorer.

Drag and drop interfaceDrag and drop interface

In the main window you will see all of the files available on the remote computer; these files can be simply transferred from the FTP server to your own computer by either copying and pasting or dragging the files into a new window on your own PC.

To transfer a file into the FTP area you simply need to reverse this process by copying or dragging the files from your PC to the FTP window.

Warning. If you close the FTP window your ftp session will close and the files will not transfer.

FTP access using Filezilla

Due to the draw backs of using the first method, this tutorial will now explain the same process using a 3rd party software application called "Filezilla” published by and is supplied FREE of charge and available for instant download without asking for any personnel details.

Downloading the software

Before we can get started we need to download and install the application know as Filezilla.

You will need to open your internet browser and navigate to the publisher’s website ( As shown below...

Filezilla websiteFilezilla website

On the main home page you will see 2 grey boxes, the first is labelled "Download Filezilla Client” this is the one we want to install.

The next page will detail several versions of the software application for different Operating Systems; select the version applicable to your Operating System.

Once selected, the site will transfer you to a new page that will automatically start the download procedure. Your internet browser might ask if you wish to download the file. Click yes, and the file will start to transfer.

Filezilla is only a small file and should take a few minutes to download depending upon your internet connection. Once the file has completed the download you will need to double click the installation file and proceed with the setup wizard

Before the installation starts you will be prompted to accept the license (as shown below) by clicking on "I agree” you are confirming to use the software as stated in the license.

Filezilla public licenseFilezilla public license

Once accepted you will be prompted for your installation Options (shown below)

Installing FilezillaInstalling Filezilla

In this example we are going to install the software for "all users” – Click next.

The next screen will give you the options to install components, in this tutorial i have selected all of them including the "desktop Icon” which by default is not checked. – Click Next

Choose Filezilla componentsChoose Filezilla components

The next 2 screens will give you the choice of installation locations and folder name – Normally the default location and folder names are fine – click next on the first screen and install on the second screen.

Installing Filezilla FTP clientInstalling Filezilla FTP client

Your computer will start the process of installing "Filezilla” and depending on your computers speed; this should take just a few seconds.

Once installed "Filezilla will automatically open and you will see the screen shown below

Fiilezilla FTP client main windowFiilezilla FTP client main window

The screenshot above has been highlighted in order to explain what you are looking at.

As you can see the window has been split with 2 major sections "Your Computer” and "FTP Server” once we connect to the FTP server the right hand section will populate with the files stored on the FTP server.

To start with we need to enter the server name; username and password (don’t worry about port unless given one). Again for this tutorial I will be using with the FTP details I previously setup.

Once all of the information has been entered you simply need to click "Quick Connect”. Filezilla will then logon to the FTP server making a strong and secure connection.

FTP client folders listing in FilezillaFTP client folders listing in Filezilla

The screenshot above shows we have made a connection to the FTP server. The FTP server is now displaying all of the files available for upload or download.

To transfer files between both computers you simply need to click on the chosen file and drag to a destination on the opposite side.

This ends our simple tutorial on file transfer via FTP.

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