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What's the difference between HTTP and FTP

Posted on 1998-01-20
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Last Modified: 2013-12-25
What is the difference between the HTTP and FTP protocols?

When to use witch?
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Question by:frooze
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bigelos earned 20 total points
ID: 1856532
These are, literally,
FTP: File Transfer Protocol
HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol

So, usually, you would use FTP to transfer files, and HTTP to transfer hypertext (and images).

However, not everyone has access to an FTP server, so HTTP is also used for file transfer.

In general, use HTTP for transfering web pages, etc. and FTP for transferring files.  You can use HTTP if FTP is not available, but it might not be as reliable, and is not necessarily as convenient.

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by:frooze
ID: 1856533
which is the fastest and why?
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by:bigelos
ID: 1856534
Both of them go along the same communication lines, so they both should go at the same speed.  However, some sites use a different server for HTTP and FTP, so there are a lot of times that the FTP server can be faster, because it isn't servicing a lot of web site hits.  Also, FTP sites usually limit the number of anonymous users that can log in at one time, making it somewhat faster.  

One other added benefit for us unix diehards is that we can access the file through FTP without starting up our web browser.  In addition, if we are dialing in remotely, FTP is much faster if we use a terminal to first transfer the file to our ISP and then do the download.
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by:magigraf
ID: 1856535
Bigelos...

Your statement "However, not everyone has access to an FTP server.." is not 100% accurate and I would say that everyone has access to ftp. I can prove to you anytime you want.

Frooze..

Your question is opening a very wide conversation, that would require some very detailed answers.
Now Bigelos has explained in diagonals what it is, and in my opinion there isn't one faster or better, it all depends what do you want.

Regards
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by:bigelos
ID: 1856536
In the access to an FTP server, I meant as in the ability to put things on an FTP server, not the retrieval.  There are a lot of ISPs that will let you put a web page, but they don't necessarily let you put things on their FTP server, if they have one.

Magigraf, please correct me if I am wrong.

On a far different note, is it just my connection, or is everyone having to hit the submit button a few times (hitting the stop button in between) before it will actually get submitted?  If I hit submit and it doesn't go within a few seconds, waiting 5 min. won't make any dif.
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by:magigraf
ID: 1856537
Bigelos...

Well that makes it more clear, remember always to give the maximum of details possible since you never know to whom you're giving the info.

Indeed in the sence you have explained now, YES you're right, while I could still post you one site where you could FTP and upload files for free.

As for the second note, it could be 2 things or your ISP like you said, and second EE. I will lay charges first on EE *lol*.
The site is becoming heavily accessed and BANDWIDTH is kicking and screaming...

Regards

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Author Comment

by:frooze
ID: 1856538
When I use FTP it looks like my modem connection is kept open all the time during download or upload. But when using HTTP it will open and close.
Why is that?
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by:bigelos
ID: 1856539
Frooze,
When you see the HTTP opening and closing, it is because you are accessing more than one document at a time.  (I'm assuming you meant you are still connected, the modem just isn't transferring data all the time?).  When you access a site, your browser tries to load everything on the page, and stops when it is finished.  However, since there is usually more than one item on a web page, your browser has to request something, and then wait for a response from the server, so you will see no activity during that waiting period.

For FTP, especially if you are using a dedicated FTP program and nothing else, there isn't quite as much overhead (start and stop requests), so you won't get as many waiting periods.  As I mentioned earlier, FTP servers tend to have a limited number of connections, so they tend to be a little faster in that manner as well.
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