Network file sharing is the process of copying files from one computer to another using a live network connection. This article describes the different methods and networking technologies available to help you share files.
File Sharing With Microsoft WindowsMicrosoft Windows (and other personal computer operating systems) contain built-in features for file sharing. For example, Windows file folders can be shared across a local area network (LAN) or the Internet using any of several methods. You can also set up security access restrictions that control who can obtain the shared files.
For more information, see: Introduction to Network File Sharing in Microsoft WindowsComplications arise when attempting to share files between some computers running Windows and others that don't, but the below alternatives can help.
FTP File TransfersFile Transfer Protocol (FTP) is an older but still popular method to share files on the Internet. A central computer called the FTP server holds all the files to be shared, while remote computers running FTP client software can log in to the server to obtain copies.
All modern computer operating systems contain built-in FTP client software, and popular Web browsers like Internet Explorer can also be configured to run as FTP clients. Alternative FTP client programs are also available for free download on the Internet. As with Windows file sharing, security access options can be set on the FTP server requiring clients to supply a valid login name and password.
For more information:
- About FTP File Transfers
P2P - Peer to Peer File SharingPeer to peer (P2P) file sharing is a popular method for swapping large files on the Internet, particularly music and videos. Unlike FTP, most P2P file sharing systems do not use any central servers but instead allow all computers on the network to function both as a client and a server. Numerous free P2P software programs exist each with their own technical advantages and loyal community following. [p[Instant Messaging (IM) systems are a type of P2P application most commonly used for chatting, but all popular IM software also supports sharing files.
For more information:
- About P2P File Sharing
Email systems are designed for transferring small amounts of data and generally limit the size of individual files that can be shared.