Download and install the program. When you first open it, you’ll see the Session Properties dialog box. This is where you specify a server to connect to. For example, if I want to download the Netscape browser, I can connect to ftp.netscape.com with my FTP client and browse for the package I want, instead of using my Web browser to download it. For this type of FTP download from a public site you normally just log on as Anonymous. The password you supply is purely arbitrary, it will accept anything that resembles an e-mail address (and many will accept a blank password). Give your connection profile a name (anything you want). Enter the host name (or numeric IP address e.g. 184.108.40.206) that you wish to connect to, in this case ftp.netscape.com. That’s really all you need to configure; you’ll find that many of the intimidating looking advanced fields in this program aren’t needed for normal use and can be left blank.
Click the OK button to connect to the site and save the profile settings and you’ll see something like:
Lovely isn’t it? Gone are the days of Unix shells and nasty command line utilities. Using a modern FTP client is just like using a file manager. On the left of the two-pane view is the local computer and on the right is the remote computer. On the local computer side, either type the path to the directory you wish to save files to, or double-click the green up arrow to go up a directory level. Double-clicking drives or folders opens them in the pane also. On the remote side, double-click folders to open them or use the green up arrow if you need to go up in the directory tree (at this point, in the root of the public FTP server you’ve connected to, you most likely won’t be able to go up)
As you can see, by using the green up arrow on the local computer side and double-clicking folders, I have chosen my downloads directory on my hard drive. On the remote computer, I double-clicked folders until I got to the directory containing the Netscape download I want, /pub/communicator/english/4.76/windows/windows95_or_nt/complete_install. At this point, I could highlight the cc32d476.exe file and download it. See the two arrows in between the panes? You can guess what those do. Clicking the <- arrow will transfer the highlighted file to the local computer. Before we are ready to do that though, we must set the correct transfer type.
It’s important to note that FTP utilizes two transfer types, depending on what kind of files are being transferred. ASCII mode is for text based files only (e.g. .txt files, .htm and .html files, scripts etc.). Binary mode is for binary files only (e.g. .exe, .zip, .jpg, .gif, multimedia files etc.). If you choose the wrong transfer type for a particular file, you will most certainly corrupt it. The safest thing to do is to manually select the correct mode each time you transfer a file.
Alternatively, you can tell the program what files to download in which mode. Go to Options/Extensions. Enter the file extensions for all files that should be transferred in ASCII mode and add them to the list. Good examples of extensions to add to this list are .htm, .html, .shtml, .log, .c, .cgi. Click OK, then put a check in the Auto box. The program will now check the extension of the files you download and use ASCII mode if the extension matches one in your list, otherwise it will use binary mode. With either Binary or Auto mode selected, you can now highlight cd32d476.exe and click the <- arrow between the panes to download it to your local directory.
Resuming Broken Downloads
What if the connection gets broken, or you get disconnected from your ISP while downloading? Simply reconnect to the FTP site again, and the WS_FTP program will automatically prompt you to resume. Click Yes, and your download will resume – whew!
Refining the Settings
Having to browse for directories in both panes every time you establish a connection to a particular site is a real pain in the neck. Since ftp.netscape.com is a site you will be accessing again the next time there is a browser upgrade, it would be a good idea to set initial local and remote directories. In Session Properties, click the Startup tab and enter the following:
Now, when you connect to the site, the left and right panes will be automatically showing the directories you want to work with.