Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FTP, a couple o' thoughts...

Once upon a time neither 'net, blogs, nor e-mail existed. Neither laptop nor desktop computer graced the land, and such computers as existed filled rooms and used funny shaped paper cards with holes punched in them to get information in and out of the behemoths - and someone to carry the boxes from computer to computer. Big boxes.

This quickly grew tiresome, and lo. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was born, a way to send information over a wire in a standard/predictable fashion that folks at the far end could predictably and reliably read - a fax machine for computers. FTP was and is a manual (do it by hand) way of doing things, without any (in the modern sense) servers to handle fancy things like addresses - if you want to send it someplace you put in the address yourself!

The first e-mail was simply very small FTP transfers between machines - Bob in Seattle making a copy of a note on an engineering spec to Billy Joe in Atlanta and sending it along with the engineering logic. That sort of thing.

Pretty quickly, however, folks figured out that just leaving a file for someone to stumble across and read at their convenience (or when prompted by a phone call) was pretty much for the birds, and the beginnings of modern e-mail wafted up from the depths of ingenuity.

Still...e-mail was always for quick/small messages - not for serious file sending. Even today, with larger hard drives and file size limits, most e-mail servers will choke up at attached files over 1mb (megabyte) in size, or not long after, size-wise.

FTP remains, for all its' age and kludginess, with it's cousin SFTP (Secure FTP), pretty much king of the pile for moving big files like pictures and sound files back and forth - or moving an entire hard drive across country - just start up the FTP session, point the files you want moved at their destination, and go away while it automagically happens. You can get fancier, but that's the fundamentals.

And really, with modern clients and servers, FTP isn't all that kludgy - it's just another tool we've got (the battleaxe compared to the scalpel) to move information back and forth, reliably and far faster than big boxes of paper. Heh.

Just thought I'd mention it, as some of us do share pics of kids and grandkids and cool guns and neat toys - and start beating our heads against the e-mail size limits at some point, either just bot being able to send what we want, or our account fills up and bogs down - neither of which bites you in FTP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey there -- Kudos on the blog! Anyway, I work for Ipswitch, makers of the #1 file transfer client on the market.

Ping me at hgarber@ipswitch and I'd be happy to send along a license to our latest and greatest release of WS_FTP Professional 2007.

WS_FTP Pro is loaded with security capabilities, including the ability to transfer files over SFTP/SSL and FTPS/SSH protocols and has a bunch of built-in automation features. And best of all, its not "kludgy" ;-)