Friday, October 18, 2002

FXP (File Exchange Protocol) - Flash! Ahhh-ahhhhhhh... He'll save every one of us!

Friday, October 18, 2002

No, I'm not repeating myself; there is a subtle difference between the FTP and FXP protocols. The former allows you to transfer data from a remote computer to your hard drive, while the latter enables you to transfer data from one FTP site to another FTP site.

By setting up an FXP transfer you are tapping the slower of the two connection speeds of the computers you wish to transfer data between. So even if you only have a 56k modem, it is possible to transfer data at the speed of a T3 connection for example. The speed of your own connection has no bearing on the transfer rate because you are merely acting as the catalyst; the data never actually touches your own hard drive. One instance in which you might find this technique useful is when switching web hosts - if your site contains a sizeable library of video or music content, transferring it from A to B will take a fraction of the time it would armed only with your meagre home connection.

To get started you will need an FXP client. There aren't that many around to choose from, but luckily what is available is top notch - head over to www.flashfxp.com and see for yourself. Before you can continue you will need a destination FTP site to transfer your data to. This could be any computer providing it has been setup as an FTP server and you know the login details.

Whenever you open a Flash FXP session you will be presented with a split screen display. The left side of the screen is used for browsing the remote FTP site you wish to transfer data from, and the right side of the screen is used for browsing the destination FTP site. To begin with you will have to enter the IP address of the FTP site you wish to transfer data from. To do this, click on the yellow lightning bolt icon, select 'quick connect', fill in the login details and click on the 'connect' button. Switch to the opposite side of the screen, select 'quick connect' once again and enter the login details of your destination FTP site. All that remains to be done is to decide what it is you wish to transfer and give Flash FXP the go ahead. The procedure is as follows:- highlight a selection of files, jab the 'add to queue' option and push the 'go' button. Finally, sit back and put your feet up while you watch the megabytes accumulate.

Ah, this would be the paragraph where I moan about some of the drawbacks that blight FXP - just for the sake of completeness you understand. One of the most pertinent issues is that not all FTP sites will grant you permission to transfer data to another FTP. The reason for this is that to use FXP, both hosts must support PASV mode and allow PORT commands to foreign hosts, and clearly not all do. Something to consider when using free web space or a paid, shared, virtual account is the type of files you are allowed to store in your account. Some web host administrators, for example, will forbid you from transferring mp3 or zip files just in case they contain copyright infringing material.

These considerations aside, FXP is a skill worth mastering by any webmaster or server admin who deals with large files on a regular basis. You are unlikely to ever have access at home to the kind of bandwidth available through corporate networks so this is the next best thing.

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