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Using the Netscape Communicator FTP client.
I have a copy of Netscape Communicator on my computer, and have recently learned that it contains an FTP client that I can use to upload files to my site. Do you recommend its use, and how do I use it?

About Netscape

Netscape Communicator is the de facto standard in which web browsers are judged against. Having been around longer than most of the competition and provided the first web browser to become popular with the general public, Netscape is a tool found in nearly every web designer's arsenal. In fact, even the word 'Netscape' has become a synonym for the web itself.

Many people don't realize, however, that Communicator also features a built in FTP client. Netscape's built in FTP functionality can be used to upload files to your Dreamhost account.

Limitations

However, note that Netscape's FTP client is not recommended for more than the occasional site update, as it is missing features considered essential for a fully functional FTP client. In particular:

     1. You cannot delete files or directories.
     2. You cannot rename or move files or directories.
     3. You cannot change file/directory permissions.
     4. You cannot batch-download files.

As such, Netscape's FTP functionality is not recommended for daily use beyond the occasional update to an existing page.

The Plus Side

On the other hand, Netscape does have some redeeming factors for an FTP client. First, it is almost guaranteed to be on any machine connected to the Internet. If you are using someone else's computer and need to make a simple update to your site, you won't need to download and install a brand new FTP client. Second, it is available for just about every conceivable operating system you may use. From the MacOS to Windows, even for Linux or any number of Unix derivatives, a version of Netscape that can run on your platform may be found. With the open-source Mozilla project in effect, you may soon see Netscape available for an even wider set of platforms such as the BeOS or Amiga. A limited port to MS-DOS is even underway.

Using Netscape FTP

For the purposes of this article, I have used screenshots from the Mac version of Netscape Communicator v4.5. Note that older versions of Netscape or versions for other operating systems may be slightly different.

To connect to your site, type your username and domain into the location bar of your browser in the following form:

     ftp://username@mydomain.com/

...where 'username' is your username. Remember, your username is case sensitive, so you will need to ensure that you have typed your username in with the proper mix of upper and lower case letters. When finished, hit return. You will presented with the following dialog:

netscape-ftp_ex1.gif


Here, you will be prompted for your password. Type it in and hit return again. As with your username, ensure that it is typed with the proper mix of upper and lower case letters. Your Dreamhost account passwords are case sensitive.

If you receive a message stating that authentication has failed, you can attempt to log on again. Otherwise, you will be presented with a directory listing of your account's root directory.

netscape-ftp_ex2.gif


Within your directory, you will be presented with a listing of its contents. If you wish to open a directory, simply click on its name in the listing.

Uploading Files

To upload a file, make sure you are currently within the directory that you wish to upload into, then select the 'Upload File...' command from your File menu. You will be prompted to locate the file you wish to upload. Once you have made your choice, your file will be sent to the server.

Note that if you upload a file into a directory containing a file with the same name, the older copy will be replaced. This is usually how updates work. You should always keep a current copy of your site on your local hard-drive to prevent unnecessary data loss.

Last updated: Apr 18, 2001.