There are two ways to transfer files over the Internet. One is to send a file along with an e-mail message, and the other is to use an FTP program.|
E-mail programs have the ability to "attach a file" to a message, which means that any type of file (program, graphics, spreadsheet, etc.) can be transmitted along with the text message. This is the simplest way to send a file via the Internet. Before you send the message, all you do is click the "attach" button and point to the name of the file(s) you want to send along.
The only problem with this method is that the file size may be increased by as much as 30%. The standard Internet mail protocol supports only text. In order to transmit non-text files, an encoding method such as MIME, UUencoding or BinHex is used by the e-mail program to convert 8-bit bytes into 7-bit ASCII characters, which adds overhead to the file and adds transmission time. The files are decoded by the receiving mail program.
Occasionally, a mail gateway is set up to limit the total length of an e-mail message. If attached files exceed this limit, they can be broken up into several files that are delivered to you. These files can be manually combined and decoded; however, this is a technical chore beyond the scope of most e-mail users.
Via FTP and the Web
The protocol on the Internet that was designed to handle file transfers is FTP (file transfer protocol). It supports large files and the full 8-bit byte structure. With a Web browser, you can download from an FTP site, but not upload. You would use the ftp:// prefix and address (URL), which includes the domain name and directories.
In order to upload to an FTP site, you generally need an ID and password. If you have such privilege, you can use a terminal program and type in the raw Unix commands, or use a graphical FTP program with menus and buttons. There are always shareware or freeware FTP programs available on the Web. See FTP.