File Information

File Sizes

Before retrieving a file, it is useful to know how big it is. This is because transfer speed may be very fast, or as slow as one kilobyte per second depending on factors such as 'heavy traffic congestion' on the Internet. PC Users: You can find the size of a file by clicking on Server on the Menu Bar, then choosing the Directory Listing option. Click on the OK button to produce a listing.
Mac Users: Clicking on the file you want sometimes tells you its size, there may also be checkboxes to display more info. You may have to consult your on-line help if you cannot get file information.

Each line of the directory listing BEGINS with what is known as the permissions string, which relates to file protection. If the permissions string starts with the letter d (eg drwxr-xr-x), then the line refers to a directory. If the permissions string starts with something else, such as a minus sign (eg -rw-r--r--), then this indicates that the line refers to a file. The file size is typically given in bytes, and is written just to the left of the date assigned to the file.


The README file is a text file and is located in some FTP directories for the information of the user. You can retrieve this file to find out useful information regarding the file archive (what files are in the current directory, what they contain, when the archive was last updated and so on). PC UsersYou may have to manually click on the ASCII button to enable ASCII transfer mode (more about that later).

After having retrieved the README file, you can read its contents:

Compressed Files

Many large files on an FTP server will be in compressed format. This helps save congestion when tranferring files and reduces the transfer time. Compressed files will need to be tranferred using the BINARY transfer mode.

Compressed files will be suffixed in a certain way, depending on what utility was used to compress them. A couple of examples are the suffices (or 'extensions') .Z which can be decompressed using the UNIX command uncompress filename. There is also .zip which indicates files suitable for DOS or Windows on Intel-basd PCs. The command to unzip them is: pkunzip then press ENTER. It is good practice to copy or move the archive file into a different (empty) directory before unzipping it !

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