March 26, 2010

Does Your Host Provide FTP?

I am somewhat shocked that I’m writing this article. Who would have thought that in 2010 there are major hosting companies that still do not provide FTP services to their clients? Does yours?
First, what is FTP? FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, the standard way to move website files to and from a hosting provider, and has been in use since 1971. There are many free FTP programs, such as FileZilla, as well as many commercial products, like WS FTP Pro. In addition, most WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors, like DreamWeaver, use FTP to move the finished files to the hosting provider.
Now, if FTP is the standard, is free and virtually all development software requires it, why wouldn’t some hosts provide this access to their clients. The answer is somewhat disheartening – by disabling FTP access, the host has made it extremely difficult for you to ever consider moving to another hosting provider. In other words, you’re locked in.
Just today our team completed moving a client away from a major ISP in Ontario that did not provide FTP access to their clients. The move was still possible, but it just took much longer as our team had to move each file manually away from the old provider and onto our hosting platform. Would you consider moving providers any time soon? I would like to recommend to you that if your current host doesn’t provide FTP, it’s a sign that you should move today. However, the fact is that there are many circumstances in which you would like to move in the future, such as consolidating your IT needs with one provider.
Ask your hosting provider – do you provide me with FTP access? If not, why not?

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