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FTP is a standard protocol for copying files from one computer to another across the Internet. For example, many Web hosting sites allow users to copy files to the server using FTP.
An FTP server is similar to an HTTP server (that is, a Web server) in that you can communicate with it using an Internet protocol. However, an FTP server does not run Web pages; it only copies files to and from the server.
It is typical that the server computer runs both an FTP server to support file transfers and a Web server to support HTTP access to files. These are separate servers even if they run on the same computer. Both of the servers map to the directory where the files are located.
Although the FTP server and Web server might be working with the same files in the same physical location (or directory), the URL for accessing the files is usually different for each of the protocols. For example, the URL for transferring files to a specific directory on the FTP server might be something like the following:
In contrast, to run the files, you need a browse location, or the URL of a Web server that points to the same location. The browse location might look like the following:
Again, both of the URLs might be pointing at the same physical directory on the server.
In Visual Web Developer, an FTP Web site is simply a Web site that resides on a remote computer that you access using FTP. FTP access requires that you know the URL of the site. This is often provided as a complete URL (for example, ftp://servername/foldername). Under most circumstances, you also must have a valid user name and password to log on to the FTP server before being allowed to read or write files.
Once you have the FTP address of the site, you can open the site in Visual Web Developer. You can then edit and create files in the site as if they were local files. When you save the files, they are transferred via FTP to the server.
Some FTP servers require that you pass authentication credentials to the server in order to connect. Visual Web Developer allows you to specify a user name and password when you establish a connection to the FTP server. If you specify credentials, they are cached in memory on your computer for the duration of your Visual Web Developer server. As a security measure, they are not stored on disk.