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HTTP, FTP, SMTP…What does it all mean?

Matt Van Arsdel

Question: With all these different web addresses that one can go to, http, FTP, SMTP, what does it all mean?

Answer: HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Hypertext is the source code for web pages. If you would like to see an example of what Hypertext stands for, simply go to any web page such as http://www.mymotherlode.com, then go to the View menu and then select Source. This should open up a separate window with the web page’s source code.

When you are transferring a file to a web site that allows anyone to transfer files to it, you will be transferring to its FTP server. What is FTP? FTP is the acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is a commonly used protocol for transferring files over any TCP/IP based network. You can access an FTP server by either using a FTP client program or if you have the web address you can type that in the address bar of your web browser.

SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It is the protocol that your email client program will use to send emails. Normally when setting up email accounts in your email client, you will need to specify your outgoing mail server. Usually that is smtp.domain.com where domain.com is your Internet Service Provider’s domain name. An email client requires the name or the IP address of an SMTP server as part of its configuration. The server will deliver messages on behalf of the user. End users connected to the Internet can use the services of an e-mail provider that is not necessarily the same as their connection provider.

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