Welcome to the first post in a new series that I am dubbing Acronym Buster. Each post, we’ll take a common acronym found around the web and declassify its meaning. This week we are going to be focusing on FTP. It’s one that you probably hear semi-often, but maybe aren’t entirely sure what it is. Let’s unravel those capital letters…

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. The main purpose of FTP is having the ability to quickly move files from one place to another around the internet. For casual internet users, this isn’t that big of a concern. You may download a couple files a week, or email some pictures to a friend. However, for web developers and invested web users, life would be very difficult without FTP capabilities.

Take a moment to consider a website you enjoy. Think of all the hundreds, thousands, or even millions of files that make up that website. Imagine the amount of data that must be transferred from the developer’s computer to the actual web server where the site is hosted. It can quickly add up, even for a modest-sized site. Thus we rely on FTP to quickly move our files from our machines to the web. It allows users to transfer several Gigabytes of information seamlessly and without interruption (provided a strong internet connection is available).

So should you know your way around FTP? It’s not necessary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to know what it means and how it works. You never know when you might need to use FTP to transfer large amounts of data to a developer or host. Luckily, there are many applications out there that make FTP super easy for even the most basic computer users. If you know how to click and drag, then you can use FTP. Our favorite here at Mindscape is FileZilla. It’s a free, OS-independent desktop program that offers one of the best FTP experience.

While FTP isn’t a concern for typical internet users, it certainly helps to know what it means when web pros start throwing it around. At the very least, it’s one less acronym you have to pretend to know!