What is an FTP host or FTP server? What is it used for?
Definition and uses of an FTP
As the name suggests, a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a protocol for transferring files over the Internet. It enables the exchange of commands and data between a computer or software (the FTP client) and a server (the FTP host). This FTP server is a remote directory. It hosts data for your website or applications, so that it can be easily put online, migrated or shared - in a datacentre-style manner.
FTPs are used to establish a connection between the server and the client using an FTP command channel. In this channel, the webmaster can use command lines such as “get” to get a file, or “close” to close the current FTP session. They can also save time by using dedicated hosting software.
There are several FTP client software programs to make these commands easy. The best known are FileZilla and Cyberduck.
With an FTP, files, text and images can be transferred from the website manager’s computer to a web hosting plan, or the FTP host. Once imported to the FTP server, the data can then be published, and internet users will be able to access it via their browser.
There are many use cases:
- use the FTP server to transfer data from one computer to another
- set up an intranet with high availability to share files, or secure access
- host data on a shared server to free up disk space on a physical server
- set up a website, or migrate content to a new domain name
- back up important files
- centralise information for several websites and domain names.
Differences between FTP, FTPS and SFTP
FTP is the standard method for transmitting data between an FTP client and an FTP server. You can use it to regulate user access with a username and password.
However, while the connection to the server is secure, the data transmission is not. This is because the information being sent via FTP standards is not encrypted, so it is at risk of being intercepted by malicious third parties. This vulnerability led to the development of two new secure protocols: FTPS and SFTP.
FTPS is the secure version of FTP. It adds an extra level of security to your FTP server, and ultimately to your website. With SSL/TLS encryption, data (such as files and logs) that passes between the client and the FTP server are protected.
SFTP stands for “SSH File Transfer Protocol” or “Secure File Transfer Protocol”. Like FTPS, SFTP is used to secure the flow of data between the FTP client and the FTP server. To do this, it also uses an encryption algorithm, the secure SSH tunnel, to protect the information. You can also strengthen the security of your FTP space by setting up an authentication system with a username and password (an SSH key).
The information remains unreadable for the entire data transmission process through the secure SSH tunnel and folder synchronisation. SSH keys prevent fraudulent access to the files of the website(s) hosted on the FTP server,
making SFTP the most secure protocol for transferring data between an FTP client and an FTP server.
Obtain permission to access an FTP host
Each OVHcloud hosting solution has access to one or more dedicated FTPs or multi-FTPs.
To connect to your secure FTP storage space, you need the following:
- an active FTP user ID or SSH username
- your password
- the FTP server address
- the server connection port
All of these authentication elements are sent to you by email when you set up your hosting plan. If you have forgotten your FTP password, host address or username, this information can still be viewed or modified at any time via the OVHcloud Control Panel.
As a site administrator, you can also use this interface to create an account for a new user, and manage access permissions to the root folder, a domain name, or to databases. This simplifies the management of shared content.
Configure an FTP server
When you subscribe to an OVHcloud web hosting solution, the FTP server is already configured. Using the options, you can create new user access or access paths in your Control Panel.
Configure an FTP client to connect to an FTP server
The connection to the FTP server is done via a dedicated tool: the FTP client. The two most widely-used free FTP clients are FileZilla (open source software for Windows or Linux users)
Once installed, the FTP software displays a login screen where you can enter your login details and access the hosting service.
Whichever software you choose, the FTP client software connects your computer to the storage space of the FTP server. To create a website or manage the tree view of your future application, simply copy the documents you want to import. You can also drag-and-drop them to the FTP server from your user interface, just like a standard file explorer.
Once all your folders and scripts have been imported into your website’s hosting server, you can then put them online. This will make your interface and web pages accessible to internet users, along with any content hosted in the “public_html” directory on your virtual server.
How do I find my FTP server name or FTP host address?
If you have forgotten your FTP login or the name of the server linked to the domains and subdomains of your FTP accounts, you can easily find this information in your OVHcloud Control Panel.
How do I find my FTP password?
To avoid fraudulent access, your FTP administrator password will not be displayed in your OVHcloud Control Panel. However, you can still change your password here. Go to the “FTP – SSH” tab in the Hosting section for your websites or web applications.
To find out more about our web servers, you can also consult our guides.