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Understanding FTP

As of 7-1-2016

This material is copied from the help file in Microsoft Internet Explorer ver 5.5 and as of 2007, looks like it is still the same in IE7. Now in 2016 with Windows 10 and the new Browser called Edge, who lknows what gives. So to get the latest info, just Google FTP.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A protocol is a language that enables computers to speak to one another. FTP is used to make files and folders publicly available for transfer over the Internet. In some cases you may need to get permission from the network computer's administrator to log on and gain access to files on the computer. But often you'll find that you can use FTP to gain access to certain networks or servers without having an account, or being an official password holder, with that computer. These "anonymous" FTP servers can contain a broad range of data that is publicly available through FTP.

The Internet address (URL) for an FTP server looks slightly different from the URL you use for a typical Web page. For example, Microsoft has an "anonymous" FTP server at, where you can download files ranging from product fixes, updated drivers, and utilities, to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and other documentation.

How much access you have to files and folders on FTP servers depends on whether you gain access to the servers through a CERN proxy server or directly, and what kind of permissions you have with the FTP server.

  • Access through a CERN proxy server is limited to viewing or downloading files. You cannot rename, upload, or delete files or folders through a CERN proxy server as you can through other types of proxy servers. For more information, click:

For more information on accessing FTP sites through a CERN-compliant proxy server see the help file for MSIE under ftp.

  • If you gain access to FTP sites directly, you can work with files and folders on the FTP servers much like you work with them on your own computer. You can view, download, upload, rename, and delete files and folders. If you need permission from the FTP server to perform any of these actions, you will be prompted to provide your username and password. For more information, see the help file in MSIE under ftp.

To access FTP sites directly

  1. In the Address bar, type the Internet address (URL) for the FTP site you want to connect to. For example:

  2. Do one or more of the following:

    • To download a file or folder, right-click the item on the page, and then click Copy to Folder.

    • To log on as a different user to this FTP site, click the File menu, and then click Login As.

    • To rename or delete items in an FTP folder, or paste items into an FTP site (upload), you can use the same commands and actions you use with Windows Explorer or My Computer.


  • On some FTP sites, you can only view or download files. Only the people who run or own the site can rename, delete, or upload files.

  • On many FTP sites, you are automatically logged on anonymously, so you can view or download files. To upload, rename, or delete files, you may need to log on using a special username and password. Also, different areas of the same site may require different logons.

  • You cannot move files within or between FTP sites. You can move files from an FTP site to a temporary location on your computer or a network drive, and then upload them to another FTP site or different folder on the same site.

  • Some programs may support opening and saving files from FTP servers by typing an FTP address in the File Open or File Save dialog box.  


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