Basics of Using FTP, Newsgroups, Gopher and Telnet

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is an absolutely essential element of life on the world wide web. Many web site owners and bloggers may not even know they are using it. To upload pages, images and video clips. Modern FTP clients all have user-friendly interfaces so a good grasp of the command-line language of old is rarely required.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP File Transfer Protocol Gopher Telnet NewsgroupsFTP is a protocol, but it is also a utility that uses the protocol for transferring files from a client to a server, or vice versa. The FTP utility is a command line utility, built-in to most operating systems. The Utility in Microsoft Windows XP Pro has the following commands:

FTP Commands


! delete literal prompt send
? debug ls put status
append dir mdelete pwd trace
ascii disconnect mdir quit type
bell get mget quote user
binary glob mkdir recv verbose
bye hash mls remotehelp
cd help mput rename
close lcd open rmdir

Many of the above commands will beĀ seldomĀ used. Below are details of the syntax of the more common commands:

open computer_name
connects to the remote server/computer.
ls file_specification
lists the files in the current directory of the remote computer that match the file specification.
dir file_specification
as above, but full details of files are displayed.
cd directory
change directory on the remote computer.
lcd directory
change directory on the local computer.
get file_name
transfer file from the remote computer to the local computer.
put file_name
transfer file from the local computer to the remote computer.
mget file_specification
tget multiple files.
mput file_specification
put multiple files.
display # characters as file is transferred. (useful indication of speed of transfer).
set transfer type to binary.
set transfer type to ascii.
close the connection.
display list of FTP commands.
exit from FTP.
exit from FTP.

GUI FTP Clients

A number of graphical user interface FTP clients exist allowing the transfer of files with ease without knowing the FTP commands for the command line interface. The graphical clients still use the command line arguments but present it in a user-friendly fashion allowing windows users to drag-and-drop files and have files and directories displayed in a similar manner to windows explorer.

Popular GUI clients include: WS_FTP, Bullet Proof FTP, SmartFTP and CuteFTP. Many of these are shareware and can be downloaded and given a trial from the Web.


Newsgroups are all loosely part of a huge distributed bulletin board system called Usenet (USEr NETwork). It is a public-access network consisting of newsgroups and group mailing lists. Originally created in 1979 at Duke University, it was intended to house news postings.

Newsgroups are a more open and less structured format than web pages, and are often contributed to by many users. They can often be a very useful source of unbiased, unmoderated information.


Gopher, developed at the University of Minnesota, is very similar in concept and practice to the Web. It was one of the first tools developed to pull the internet together so that users could access across the entire Internet rather than just one site. Unlike to World Wide Web administrators and librarians created the links, so Gopher resources tended to be phone books and library catalogues.

Gopher searches for and retrieves documents using a browser or a gopher viewer, such as WS Gopher. Interactive forms enable keyword searches using Veronica (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Network Index to Computer Archives) and other search engines.


Telnet, originally used with the UNIX operating system is a protocol used to establish a remote host connection. It is, perhaps, best likened to Windows remote desktop or a thin-client session, except that Telnet provides a character based (text based) session only. Often used, these days, for configuration tasks on a server or even a router or switch.

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