​What is FTP used for?

Many of you might be too young to remember, but using FTP was a common way to download files back in the 90s. FTP servers were data sources, and you could download files with an FTP client application. Yes, the FTP protocol is “ancient”, but it is still around. Do you want to learn more about it? 

​What is FTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one of the standard communication protocols that have the purpose of transferring files from a server (FTP server) to a client (FTP client). As you can see, it uses a client-server model of communication. The client needs permission to establish a connection. That could be a login (user name and password), or the FTP server could be public and open for everybody without authentication. 

There are improved versions of the File Transfer Protocol for additional security called FTPS and SFTP. 

  • FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure). This one uses TLS/SSL for data encryption and boosts security. It uses two channels of communication – control and data. 
  • SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol). It uses SSH for encryption and needs just a single connection. The typical FTP uses one for control and a second for data. 

There are active and passive modes:

  • Active. The client uses TCP to establish a connection with the server’s port 21 (FTP). In this case, the client will be waiting (listening) for signals from the FTP server. It will send messages to the PORT M of that server to indicate it is pending. The server will establish a connection on port 20 (data). 
  • Passive. The client uses TCP to establish a connection with the server’s port 21 (FTP). In this case, the client sends the control message PASV. The server responds with its IP address and port for the connection. Then the client will start the connection. 

As I mention, it is old. It was published in 1971! With time, the protocol has been updated many times, and now it can work with TCP/IP tool. 

Today, many new browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and more are already removing the support of this protocol, but you can still use it with some of this software. 

  • For servers – FileZilla Server, SolarWinds, Serv-U. 
  • For clients – FileZilla, WinSCP, SmartFTP. 

​What is it used for?

  • FTP is used for transferring files. It is useful for transferring large files because it can be interrupted and still recover the transfer process. For example, imagine if the Internet stops, you can still press the resume button and continue from where you left when the Internet gets back.
  • A good feature that it has is that you can send not one but multiple directories with different files at the same time. That way, you can boost the speed of the transfer compared to file-by-file sending. 
  • The File Transfer Protocol is also used for backing up. Why? Because you can schedule transfers. You can set a script to create a single large file and schedule a transfer to your backup location. The automation really helps!
  • Uploading large files is also possible with FTP. Do you know how emails let you upload just a few MB files? With the File Transfer Protocol, you can send 4k videos without problems. 

​Conclusion.

Now it is clear for you what FTP is and what its purpose is. The modern versions FTPS and SFTP are still used to transfer files between a server and a client. The original FTP might not be supported on most modern computers, but the SFTP could still live for some years. 

6 most common HTTP error codes

HTTP error codes messages can be annoying, but they must be read carefully! They provide valuable clues to know the type of issue you are facing. 

These are the 6 most common HTTP error codes you can find!

Error 401, “Unauthorized”

HTTP error 401 expresses the server got an unauthenticated request. The requested resource couldn’t be loaded due to invalid credentials or lack of them.

Causes can vary. A plugin bug or incompatibility, an outdated link, an incorrect URL, or outdated browser cache and cookies could be blocking a successful authorization to access the resource. And without it, the server will discard the request.

Error 404, “Not found”

The 404 HTTP error code says the server couldn’t find the requested resource. The code doesn’t provide further details about the resource, like if it’s temporarily gone or permanently. 

There are different reasons for a resource not to be found. It’s a web page that doesn’t exist anymore due to prior deletion. There’s a broken link or a link incorrectly placed that’s not directing as it must. Actually, dead or broken links frequently cause this error. An exhaustive checking will be required to find and fix the problem.

Error 410, “Gone”

This HTTP error 410 points out the requested resource is permanently gone. The webpage is not available, and there’s no other URL or redirection way to reach it. Causes are different, but broken external links are commonly the guilty ones. Adding links that drive users to other sites is useful to support or go deeper into a topic. But since they are external, they can be deleted anytime, and their link will send users to a gone resource. When search engines read this error, they de-index the page. If the resource truly exists, but there’s a mistake, not fixing it fast will affect your traffic.

Error 500, “Internal server error”

HTTP error 500 reports the server is experiencing a problem. Due to this, the request can’t be completed.

Many different problems can cause internal server errors. Third-party plugins conflicts, scripting language bugs, lack of connection with the database, you name it! Downtime is by itself a big issue that must be diagnosed and fixed fast! Besides, since all these issues can be prevented through regular maintenance, search engines read this error 500 as a badly maintained site. 

Error 502, “Bad gateway”

Different scenarios can cause the error 502 message to be displayed. For example, a server got a not valid answer from another server. Also, if answering a request takes more time than usual for the server, it will cancel it, and as a result, the communication with the database will be broken. Therefore, problems between servers totally deserve attention and to be fixed.

New websites can experience error 502 when their DNS data haven’t been completely propagated. Just in this case, the solution for the error is simply to wait. The propagation has to be completed, and the problem will be gone.

Error 503, “Service unavailable”

HTTP error 503 says that the server is down. The code doesn’t explain the cause, type of failure, or temporary or permanent. It just tells users, other machines, and search engines to try later. In any case, this must be checked as soon as possible not to lose traffic.

Causes can be different, regular maintenance, normal initializing process, an overload, etc.

Conclusion

HTTP error codes are useful for machines to inform the status of HTTP requests. Good knowledge about what these codes mean will make faster your diagnose and troubleshooting process.

Domain name – How to choose it? [8 Tips]

Your domain name is the way to start your business on the Internet. So picking a good one, it’s critical! 

1. Prefer a short domain name.

A short domain name is easier to remember. It narrows the chances of confusion and mistakes that can drive clients to a wrong destination. With a long name, it’s enough to forget a word or to place it in the wrong order not to reach the domain. You can go up to 63 characters for building your domain name. However, the recommendation is not to exceed 15.

2. Avoid complexity.

Many domains already exist, and many catchy names have been taken. A creative effort to build a great domain name is required. Just keep it easy to be pronounced and typed! Created words, a mixture of languages, consecutive repetition of vowels or consonants, alternative orthography, and symbols (a dash, hyphen, number sign, etc.) can lead to typos. Besides, recommending your domain can be harsh for users if they can’t pronounce it or spell it correctly. Don’t lose the word-of-mouth promotion! 

3. Pick a convenient TLD (top-level domain).

There are many TLDs, but users already trust some, the most popular. Their use has become a habit. Just think how many times you have typed automatically “.com” or “.org”?

TLDs provide trustability and important information about your domain. It can point out that your domain is local, international, from a specific industry, profitable, non-profitable, etc. A TLD can make a difference about feeling safe enough to enter card details or not.  

4. Consider the scope you want to reach.

Know perfectly your target market and how big you plan to expand. Based on this, decide the language for your domain name. If you own a Japanese domain but plan to grow international, using Japanese words and letters can be an obstacle. Prefer Latin letters and avoid including words in the domain name that makes people think you only operate in a region or country.

5. Include keywords if it makes sense.

Everybody knows the SEO benefits of using keywords. If you can include them or combine them on your domain name, it can be a push to rank better. But depending on the industry and objectives, keywords could be too generic. The recommendation is not to sacrifice brandability. Too generic can make you invisible on the Internet sea of choices.

6. Check the legal aspect before registering.

No matter you dedicate weeks defining a creative name, there are chances it is already taken. Availability and legal rights must be checked before registering it to avoid legal issues later. If you lose a law sue, migrating to a different domain name is a hard move that risks your traffic

7. Be sure about registration prices now and later.

There are really attractive promotions and prices for registering domain names. The TLD and the whole registration can be cheap the first year, but what about the renewal price? Remember, you have to pay for it every year to own a domain name. Sometimes renewal prices go double, triple, or more. So, don’t be surprised. Check it from the beginning and decide. 

8. Check the status of already existing or expired domain names.

If the results of your research show the ideal domain name you picked is already taken, or you find a good existent choice, check its status! Maybe the owner wants to sell it, or it can be expired, which means you can get it. Already used domain names can have some traffic, and that’s a bonus!

DNS propagation – Get familiar with the process

DNS propagation – What is it?

DNS propagation is a complex process involving the update and spread of new modified information across the network of servers. Whenever you make a change in your DNS, for instance, create a new DNS record or edit an existing one, it is going to be saved in the authoritative DNS name server. 

However, the network contains numerous DNS servers, such as the recursive ones, which are spread in different geographical places all over the world. Therefore, each server on the network has to receive the updated changes to function correctly in the process of DNS resolution. 

The time required for distributing the changes to all of the different recursive servers is the DNS propagation.

How does it work?

DNS changes and modifications are needed in various situations. For example, you may want to migrate to a different hosting provider or renovate your website, or maybe you want to add a brand new service (email, FTP). These are just some of the various actions that would demand making adjustments, adding, and removing DNS data (DNS records).

Your DNS administrator or yourself is going to complete these tasks straight to the authoritative DNS server. Then when everything is set up there, the process of updating and spreading through the network has to begin. Each DNS server on the globe has to obtain a duplicate of the new DNS information.

That is why it should not shock you if some of your users receive the new version of your website and others who are located in a separate country get the previous version. However, as we mentioned, DNS propagation is a process, and it needs time to propagate completely to all of the DNS servers.

What affects longer DNS propagation?

DNS propagation could take a long period of time. So, that depends on several factors:

  • The TTL values of the DNS records. The various DNS data has limited time established, determining how long servers should store the DNS records. So, the servers are not going to seek the DNS data until the TTL expires.
  • The TTL values from ISP’s servers. Internet service providers (ISP) configure their DNS in their own way. Typically, their TTL values are higher to optimize the usage of the resources and store the DNS records of the domains for faster response to DNS queries. For that reason, their TTLs should expire, and then your new DNS modifications are going to propagate. 
  • The devices’ DNS cache. The computers of your users also have a DNS cache, which stores the DNS records of the domains they visit. So, until the TTL expires, some users could receive the older version of your website. They could delete their DNS cache or wait for the TTL to expire to reach the updated version of your website.
  • DNS changes in the highest hierarchy level. You probably know that the DNS servers have a hierarchical structure. For that reason, when changes are completed on the root servers, the DNS propagation is going to take more time. At that level, the TTL values are usually higher.