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6.3. How do I use FTP?

Using FTP is similar to using UNIX. Some of FTP's commands (such as cd, pwd, and ls) work just as their UNIX counterparts do. This is great news if you're already familiar with UNIX, because there isn't much new to learn. Even if you don't use UNIX, don't cringe; you'll find FTP is trivial to use.

To use FTP, you need the FTP program on your local host, and you need to know where you want to connect. On my system, I start FTP by typing (stay with me, now) ftp, and then I open a connection by typing open followed by a site name.

Note: You can also type ftp sitename, thereby combining the tasks of starting the FTP program and opening a site. For example, to connect to netcom's FTP server, type ftp

If you're FTPing to your own account (that is, you're using full-privilege FTP instead of anonymous FTP), enter your own username and password at the prompt. On systems that allow anonymous FTP access, use the username anonymous. You'll probably be asked to enter a password, too. When prompted for a password, type your e-mail address. This isn't always necessary, but it's a courtesy to site administrators who like to know who is using their facility. Some sites require a valid e-mail address before you'll be allowed in, but most don't. On some systems you must use the generic password "guest" rather than an e-mail address.

Note: A neat trick: many FTP programs can automatically append your hostname if you just enter your username followed by the @ without any further information (for instance, savetz@) I don't know if that's useful, but it can save a wee bit of strain on those fingers.

Be careful not to enter your own account's password when logging on to an anonymous FTP site. You should enter your e-mail address or, in some cases, the word guest.

Note: In true password style, you won't see the password on the screen when you log in with FTP, even when you're just entering your e-mail address for a password using anonymous FTP.

Here's an example of starting an FTP session.

$ ftp
Connected to
220-    ****************************************************
220-    **                                                **
220-    **  Welcome to the Internic InfoGuide Archive     **
220-    **                                                **
220-    ****************************************************
220 is FTP server (Version wu-2.4(2) Thu Apr 14 13:25:36 PDT 1994) ready.
Name ( anonymous
331 Guest login ok, send your complete e-mail address as password.
230-Logged Access from:
230-If you have problems accessing this archive:
230-Try using a dash (-) as the first character of your password
230-This will turn off the continuation messages that may
230-be confusing your ftp client.
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
Although FTP's commands look a lot like UNIX commands, there are a few commands needed in FTP that don't exist in UNIX itself. The first command with which to become familiar is help, which should list the FTP commands available on your system.

Once you're connected, you will be able to navigate the remote system's directory and transfer files. Here are the commands for moving around directories:

***PROOFREADERS: There is supposed to be a space between cd and /.

Use these commands when you're through with FTP:
Note: Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Both, sort of. Although my eighth grade grammar teacher would cringe at the thought, I (along with everyone else on the Internet) use FTP interchangeably as a noun and a verb. "How do I use FTP?," "Hey! FTP to sunsite," and "Have you FTPed my spreadsheet yet?" are all understood. Don't let this confuse you; just remember that any noun can be verbed.

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