Introduction to the FTP Protocol

To the uninitiated, FTP and HTTP seem to be quite similar. Both allow file transfers, both support a form of user authentication, and the two protocols often appear to be used interchangeably on the Web—a binary package or large multimedia file might be linked from a Web site via either the http:// or the ftp:// protocols, which seem to do the same thing with regard to downloading the file to your computer. However, a little further investigation shows us that the two protocols are designed for considerably different purposes, and therefore support widely different feature sets. Table 27.1 shows a contrast of these crucial areas of difference.

Table 27.1. Comparison of FTP and HTTP Functionality
Feature FTP HTTP ...

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