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File transfer is the transmission of a computer file through a communication channel from one computer system to another. Typically, file transfer is mediated by a communications protocol. In the history of computing, a large number of file transfer protocols have been designed for different contexts.
Some examples of file transfer:
- Transparent file transfers over network file systems
- Explicit file transfers from dedicated file transfer services like FTP or HTTP
- Distributed file transfers over peer-to-peer networks like Bittorent or Gnutella
- In IBM Systems Network Architecture, LU 6.2 peer-to-peer file transfer programs such as IBM's Connect:Direct and CA Technologies' XCOM Data Transport
- File transfers over instant messaging or LAN messenger
- File transfers between computers and peripheral devices
- File transfers over direct modem or serial (null modem) links, such as XMODEM, YMODEM and ZMODEM.
A file transfer protocol is a convention that describes how to transfer files between two computing endpoints. They are meant solely to send the stream of bits stored as a single unit in a file system, plus any relevant metadata such as the filename, file size and timestamp. File transfer protocols usually operate on top of a lower-level protocol in a protocol stack. For example, the HTTP protocol operates at the topmost application layer of the TCP/IP stack, whereas XMODEM, YMODEM, and ZMODEM typically operate across RS-232 serial connections.
- File sharing
- List of file transfer protocols
- Managed file transfer
- Peer-to-peer file sharing
- Pull technology
- Push technology
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