File Transfer Protocol (FTP): frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about FTP.

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What is FTP?

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a protocol used to transfer files over the Internet. People commonly use FTP to make files available for others to download, but you can also use FTP to upload webpages for building a website or for putting digital photos on a picture sharing site.

How do I start FTP?

To start FTP in Internet Explorer, type the FTP address into the Address bar or click an FTP link on a webpage. If you click a link, you will be asked whether you want to save the file or open it. (If you use a different web browser, follow the instructions that came with your browser.)

FTP addresses start with "ftp://" rather than "http://." For example, to go to the Microsoft FTP website, type ftp://ftp.microsoft.com, and then press ENTER.

How do I access FTP websites and download files?

  1. In your web browser's address bar, type the Internet address (URL) for the FTP site you want to connect to (for example, ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/), and then press ENTER.

  2. The FTP site opens, and you can do one or more of the following:

    • To open a file or folder, click it.

    • To download a file or folder, right-click it, and then, in Internet Explorer, click Save Target As. If you use a different web browser, follow the instructions that came with your browser.

If you have permissions from the person who owns the FTP site, you can also open the site in a Windows Explorer window. To open the site in this way, in Internet Explorer, click the Page button, and then click Open FTP site in Windows Explorer. In the new window, to download a file or folder, right-click it, and then click Copy to Folder.

How do I upload files to an FTP website?

To upload files to an FTP website, you usually need certain permissions from the person who owns the site. That person must also give you a user name and password, which you'll need to sign in to the FTP site.

  1. Open the FTP website in your browser.

  2. Click Page, and then click Open FTP site in Windows Explorer. If you use a different web browser, follow the instructions that came with your browser. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. In Windows Explorer, press ALT, click File, and then click Login as.

  4. Type the user name and password, and then click Log On.

After you sign in, you can copy files to the FTP website by copying and pasting.

Can I use FTP to copy or move files between websites?

Yes, but not directly between sites. You must first use FTP to download the files to your computer, and then use FTP again to upload them to the other website.