FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
A protocol is a set of standard commands and responses
that computers use to talk to each other. Other examples of
POP3 Post Office Protocol (version 3) - used
to retrieve email from a mailserver
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - used to
HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol - used to view
The File Transfer Protocol includes commands like GET
and PUT which are used to transmit files to and from
servers. A computer which contains files that can be accessed
by FTP is often called an FTP server, or FTP host.
When connecting to an FTP server you need to know it's hostname.
The hostname is a combination of words in a particular order
which is translated (behind the scenes) to an IP Address,
sort of like a phone number.
Example Hostname: ftp.mywebhost.com
Example IP Address: 188.8.131.52
As you can see, the hostname is easier to remember and communicate
to others. An FTP program can use either the Hostname or IP
Address to connect to the server.
FTP programs, often called clients, are used to simplify
the use of FTP for the end user. Rather than issuing commands
one after the other at a command prompt, you can use an FTP
client to manipulate and transmit files via a GUI (Graphical
User Interface). This means that you can drag and drop files
with your mouse and your FTP client will issue the relative
commands to the server behind the scenes.