Glossary

Protocol

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protocol - ftp, http, dns, httpsIn computing, a protocol is a set of rules that enable two devices to connect to one another for various tasks. There are many types of protocols used and for the average user they run invisibly in the background. For example, there are communications protocols, network protocols, routing protocols, cryptographic protocols and others.

Which protocol is used when depends on what needs to be done and what devices are communicating. On the Internet, the common protocols that come to mind are: Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/ IP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS), and Domain Name System (DNS).

Every time you type in a URL in a browser you’re using HTTP. URL’s begin with “http://”. This is a signal to the browser to use HTTP to find and load the webpage at the URL you entered. Information is passed back and forth between the server where the webpage is located and your browser. Some browsers automatically enter the “http://” for you. So if you type in “planetstream.net” you’ll be directed to https://planetstream.net automatically.

Browsers also use other protocols depending on what you’re doing. You can also use the FTP protocol to access a website (server actually) via ftp by typing in ftp.sitename.com. If the website supports the FTP protocol and has set it up for users then you’ll be able to login and access files. There are also standalone FTP programs that enable you to send large amounts of files back and forth to a server. Even though FTP was created in 1971 it is still the most commonly used protocol for transferring large, or a large number of files across networks.

We recommend using FTP to transfer files to your PlanetStream account. There are numerous third-party FTP programs, many of them free. You can also use the built in FTP transfer capability in your account if you only need to move a few small files. We particularly like Filezilla – but please make sure it suits you, it’s not the only option.

One of the major protocols that makes Internet, or any network, communications work is TCP/IP. People think of this as one protocol but in reality it is a combination of protocols that work together. The name TCP/IP therefore is a suite of protocols that make what we consider the Internet work. See the TCP glossary entry for more information.

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