FTP (or File Transfer Protocol) is a way of making directories of documents, programmes, pictures and other files available to other people.
These files may contain summaries of mailing list topics, FAQs or useful software distributed by the maintainer of a forum, or be used by subscribers to disseminate their own information. During collaborative working, archived copies of work or background information may reside here, building up a library of valuable information. FTP is also used transfer web pages to service providers to make them available to everyone on the world wide web.
All these files can be created, updated, deleted or simply read by special software called an ftp client, although they are often accessed using a web-browser. Usually, updating will be password protected, but the files can then be copied - or ftp'd - to any computer on the Internet.
Many of the free software tools used to access the Internet are available as free ftp downloads. Even ftp programmes themselves can be downloaded. Our favourite for Windows is FTPExplorer which comes with examples of sites to download from.