How do I upload and download files in UNIX?

What uploading and downloading of files mean?

Generally, uploading and downloading of files is defined as the transfer of files, either from a remote location to a computer or from a computer to a remote location. However, there is a big difference between uploading a file and downloading a file. For a start, the difference between uploading and download is defined by the direction of the transfer. To upload means to send a file or a batch of files from your computer to a remote computer or a remote network location. Uploading, then, simply means sending files away from your computer to another location. As such, any file sent from your PC to the Internet is termed an upload. Downloading, on the other hand, means transferring a file or a batch of files from a remote computer or from a remote server towards your computer. Downloading happens each time a file or information is transferred from the internet to your PC.
Because of its ability to transfer files toward a server or from a server, uploading and downloading processes are vital components for the internet and the websites that are hosted in the service provider’s webhost. It is important to remember that there are actually a number of ways of downloading or uploading files, depending upon the operating system that your system used. Though the result would be the same, the process may actually differ, as upload and download procedures employed by Windows-based systems may not work with Unix-based or Unix-like based systems and vice versa.

How to upload and download files in UNIX?

There are actually a number of ways in uploading and downloading files in UNIX and Unix-like based systems. Among these processes are:

 File Transfer Protocol (FTP) -FTP or file transfer protocol is considered as the most commonly used and easiest way to copy files to and from a remote system.

  •  Say for example, you want to download a file list.txt from

 At the command prompt type:
You should see something like this on the screen:
>Connected to
>220 FTP server (Version wu-2.4.2 (18) Fri
>June611:10:46 MET 2014) ready
>Name (
You will now see something like:

>332 Guest login ok, send your complete e-mail address as password.

  •  Type your e-mail address.
  •  Once on the site, change the directory to “nicolasbirth/arch” by typing“cd nicolasbirth”; where cd means Change Directory
  •  In order to see the list of all files, type “dir” and then look for ‘arch’ directory on the list. You need to change it by typing “cd” before the word arch making it “cd arch”;
  •  To find a file; type “dir l*”
  •  To download, type “bin”, which makes your download in binary form.
  •  Then type “get list.txt”. When asked to confirm, type “y” and your “list.txt” should by now starting to be downloaded and will be in the computer where you run the ftp.

 In order to upload a file, you need to do the following:

  •  The first thing you need to do is to make sure you are in the directory where you are allowed to upload into;
  •  Next, using the same example used above, type “put list.txt”
  •  or simply type “mput l*” should you want to upload all files beginning with the letter L;
  •  Again, do not forget to type “bin” before you upload.
  •  After everything is done, simply type “bye” to log off FTP.

 Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) – an interactive program, much like FTP, that performs its operations over an encrypted secsh transport.

  •  Say, for example you want to upload the file wewax.pdf to the remote server
  •  In order to connect to, type “sftp”
  •  To upload the wewax.pdf file to a directory in, type :cd/home/wewax/backup put wewax.pdf

 To download the file wewax.pdf from the directory in

  •  Type “get wewax.pdf”
  •  Should you want to download a multiple number of files, type “get *.pdf
  •  To quit when everything is done, simply type “exit” .

What are the advantages of using FTP to upload or download files in UNIX?

Using FTP to download or upload files in UNIX brings a lot of advantages. Among them are:

  •  It supports the transfer of multiple files and directories.
  •  It has a feature where you can add items on a “queue” of files to be uploaded or downloaded.
  •  It supports the resumption of transfers after it is suspended, either intentionally or unintentionally, as when connection is lost.
  •  It has no size limitation for its transfers, unlike browsers which only allows up to 2GB per transfer.
  •  It transfers files faster compared to HTTP.

Is the process of downloading and uploading files in UNIX the same as that of Windows?

Downloading and uploading files in UNIX is totally different from that of Windows systems. The reason for this discrepancy is their difference in their file systems. Having different file systems mean each of them has its own way of arranging the data in their systems and that both UNIX and Windows need distinctly different programs to run it properly. To put it clearly, transfer processes that are employed in Windows machines does not necessarily work on UNIX and Unix-like based machines and as such process that work on UNIX may or may not work on Windows-based machines.

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