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Anonymous FTP is a network protocol that allows users to upload or download files to or from a website or web server without having to provide login credentials.
Anonymous FTP is not used by most public websites, because it is, by its nature, not very secure. However, anonymous FTP is still commonly used by organizations that need to provide an easy way for the general public to access and download large amounts of files for free.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would someone use anonymous FTP?
There are a number of new technologies available for allowing users to upload and download items to and from your website. In fact, most content management systems (tools for creating and managing websites and other online content) include or have plugins available that make it easy to share files online. However, FTP offers some significant advantages, particularly the ability to manage multiple files and folders at the same time. This makes transferring files to and from a server as easy as moving files from one folder to another on your computer. If your website visitors need to download files from several folders, without having to login, anonymous FTP may be the best solution.
Who uses anonymous FTP?
Anonymous FTP is a useful tool for making large archives available to the public. Many universities and government agencies use public FTP sites to share records with the public. For example, the FTC has an anonymous FTP site where you can access public documents, reports, and more at ftp.cdc.gov/pub/. The open source software community is one of the biggest users of anonymous FTP, because open source code usually involves hundreds of files ins multiple folders. These files need to be shared freely with anyone, so anonymous FTP is the ideal solution.
Can I access any FTP site?
File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, is most commonly used to move files to or from a web server. In most cases, a username and password is required to access the site. Anonymous FTP is only used when access needs to be publicly available. Even then, in many cases you will only be able to download files from the FTP site, since anonymous uploading poses a much higher security risk for the server and is only used when absolutely necessary.
Do I need special software to use anonymous FTP?
Using your web browser, you can access anonymous FTP sites, browse folders, and download individual files. To download multiple files or entire folders, or to upload files to the server, you can use a file explorer, such as Windows Explorer. For additional functionality, including the ability to manage your connection speeds and pause downloads, you will need to use special FTP software, such as Filezilla.