File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, is a method for transferring files from one computer to another over the Internet. This typically is on a one-to-many basis; one "server" computer makes files available via FTP to many "client" computers (like yours). FTP sites may be governmental (in agencies such as NASA and the CIA) or academic (in colleges and research laboratories). There are numerous FTP sites which are software and game repositories. The files at these sites are cool programs, like screen savers and video games, that can you can install on your computer.
Many FTP sites are commercial; maintained by computer software and hardware companies. All too often, software is rushed to early release and then it is realized the software needs an update file to make it work properly; users can download the file via FTP. This also applies to software/drivers associated with your new hardware, such as a printer or scanner. If your software or hardware is giving you trouble, check the manufacturer's web site or FTP site for up-to-date software/drivers.
Some common types of FTP downloads are:
Many FTP sites are used extensively by many users at the same time. If you have difficulty connecting or downloading from an FTP site, there may be many people trying at the same time as you and thus slowing things down. Try again, and if you still have problems, try to find a mirror site. Mirror sites contain the same software and files, but are often not as busy. Locate a mirror site close to you, and if you still
have difficulty, try a mirror site that is farther away and outside of normal business hours.
If you receive the not-very-meaningful error message "Server returned extended information," this almost always means that many other people are already using this FTP site and you should try at another time, or a mirror site.