File transfer software allows you to exchange files over a network, such as a LAN or the Internet. File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, is one form of file transfer software. The most popular these days is peer to peer (P2P). Both can be used to share files within a LAN or among millions of people on the Internet.
FTP software transfers files from one computer directly to another over a network. To access file transfer, FTP users log into an FTP server and select the files they wish to download.
P2P involves filed stored on individual users’ computers that is downloadable by other users on the network. Software like Napster, LimeWire and Gnutella searches for the requested files on these computers, called peers. Uploading files for download by other peers ensures that the community will be full of available files. Some software makes uploading mandatory, while other software doesn’t mandate anything but encourages you to contribute to a file sharing community with incentive systems.
Free file transfer software of both FTP and P2P types can be easily downloaded. Among of the more popular programs are FileZilla, an FTP application, and LimeWire, a P2P program.
Transferring files is a natural extension of our desire—and our need—to communicate. Communication is what humans, as a species, do. It’s why our brains are so big. It’s why we are able to make enough different sounds to be able to talk. Homo Sapiens are compulsive communicators. Today, communications is one of the fastest growing areas of technology. Think about it—cell phones, land phones, satellite phones, internet phones, faxes, PDAs, voicemail, email, faxes, online chat, SMS… the list just keeps growing and growing. At this point in our history, we can communicate just about anything to just about anyone, just about anywhere.
Files can also be transferred via email, although nobody really talks about it when they mention file transfer software. The granddaddy of communication software is e-mail. it started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. The next oldest communication software is text chat; simple, real-time text chat has existed on multi-user computer systems and bulletin board systems since the early 1970s. By the 1980s, terminal emulator software was created in order to log into mainframes and thus access e-mail. Before the internet became public, computer files were exchanged over dialup lines, which meant ways had to be invented to send binary files over communication software that was primarily intended for plain text. File sharing software was invented to allow the exchange of files through a network such as the Internet.
These days, files can even be sent over chat networks. By 1985 the first decentralized chat system was created. It was called Bitnet Relay. In August 1988 Internet Relay Chat followed. Chat blossomed into other media as CU-SeeMe became the first chat system to work with video. Instant messaging featuring a buddy list and the notion of online presence was introduced by ICQ in 1996. The new kid on the communication software block is voice over IP (VoIP). VoIP lets you use your internet connection to make phone calls.