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How to Use File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to Access
Your On-line File Storage


FTP is a way of getting files from one computer to another.
It's simple, quick and represents one of the oldest protocols still in everyday use on the Internet today.
The sending and receiving computers can be a mixture of PCs, Macs, Linux servers and just about anything else.

FTP has a reputation of being "geeky" to use and also insecure so, because of this reputation, we keep fairly quiet about how FTP can be used to access Arrowmail's on-line file storage.
On this page, our intention is to be a bit more vocal about it.



Is FTP Geeky?

It used to be, with a lot of Command-Line options to remember but now there are plenty of great graphical FTP clients where files are just dragged-and-dropped to transfer them.
We recommend the FileZilla FTP client - it might not necessarily be the best but it's not far off and it's free.
You can download FileZilla from here:-
http://filezilla-project.org/

To get FileZilla working, click File - Site Manager… - New Site
To create a new site you need to supply:-
Host: this is exchange.arrowmail.co.uk,
User: <your normal Arrowmail username>
Password: <your normal Arrowmail password>
For Servertype: either choose FTP or FTP over SSL (explicit encryption)


Setting up a Site in the FileZilla FTP client  


Click Save and Exit
Re-open Site Manager, select the Arrowmail Storage site and click Connect
If you are using an encrypted connection you'll be asked to accept our certificate:-


 
Accept of reject Arrownmail's digital certificate  


We recommend that you select "Always trust this certificate" before you click Accept then you won't get this screen every time you connect.

Once you've connected, the files listed on the left-hand window are on your computer and those on the right-hand window are on the remote computer.
You can upload and download files between the local and remote computers by
dragging-and-dropping.


 
Filezilla connected to Arrowmail's FTP site showing files on the local PC and files on the FTP server


That's about it!

Learning to use FTP has a shallow learning curve but it's still another thing to learn so, if you're happy accessing on-line files through Web Folders and a mapped drive, you already know more than you need to about FTP.

You may be interested in using your on-line storage space for off-site backups and FTP can be a useful way of achieving this. There's more about off-site backups here.



Is It Insecure?

Same answer as for "geeky": it used to be.
Simple or Standard FTP sends usernames, passwords as well as the files being transferred in "plain text" so that someone monitoring your data connection could capture and read this information.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the same technology that is used for making banking and
e-commerce websites secure, has now been applied to FTP connections so that all information sent via FTP, including passwords, is strongly encrypted.
Our FTP servers supports "Explicit" or "AUTH SSL" connections and don't support "Implicit" SSL connections.
We also support standard FTP connections but we recommend that you use SSL connections when you can.



What's the Difference between an Active and a Passive FTP Connection?

Originally FTP used Active Mode connections.
Here, a connection is first made from the Client to the Server for the "Data Channel".
Next a connection is made back from the Server to the Client for the "Control Channel" after which file transfers can begin.

Then Firewalls came along, that don't mind outgoing connections so much but usually block all incoming connection attempts and so, for Active FTP, the Control Channel connection would fail and prevent any file transfers.
Passive Mode was invented to get around the problem of firewalls and here both the Data and Control channels are initiated by the client to the server.
The speed at which files are transferred is not affected by whether your FTP connection is Active or Passive.

Our FTP server supports both Active and Passive mode connections.
Secure FTP connections only use Passive Mode.
Our advice is to use whatever works.
Some firewalls, you may find yourself behind might only support Active Mode and others only Passive Mode.



If You Prefer FTP, Go Ahead and Use It

If you prefer using FTP then there's no problem using it for everyday file access.
We recommend the Web Folder and mapped drive way of accessing on-line storage because they use TCP Port 443, which will get through more firewalls than the FTP protocol, and can put edit locks on open files.



Web Browser Access to your FTP Storage

You may be able to master using FTP easily enough, but if you want other people to access files you've uploaded, it's too much to expect the average user to operate FTP, plus you probably don't want to tell them your password.
We have a web-server running which allows your FTP storage space to also be accessed from a web browser.
If you've uploaded a file called brochure.pdf, this can be download using this URL:-


https://exchange.arrowmail.co.uk/webfolders/john.smith/brochure.pdf


However, before you can download this file, you'll be asked to supply your username and password. This may be OK for other people in your organisation.

We've setup a special folder in everyone's FTP storage space called Public which allows anyone to download the files it contains, without having to supply a username and password.
Accessing this Public folder using a web browser does not permit files to be changed or deleted, new files uploaded or the names of other files in this folder to be displayed.

If you uploaded brochure.pdf to your Public folder, you could email someone the following URL and the average user would be able to download the file:-


https://exchange.arrowmail.co.uk/files/john.smith/public/brochure.pdf


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