July 21, 2011, 1:45 p.m.
posted by juff
Hundreds of gigabytes of stuff are available for FTP, if you know where to find them. Before you start cruising FTP sites, however, here are a few words about strategy.
Please recall that all anonymous FTP servers (hosts that enable you to log in for FTP without requiring that you have an account there) exist purely because someone feels generous. Any or all can go away if the provider feels taken advantage of, so remember these rules:
Pay attention to restrictions on access times noted in the welcome message. Remember that servers are in time zones all over the world. If the server says to use it only between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., but it’s in Germany, and you’re in Seattle, you can use it between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. your time.
Do not upload material unless you’re invited to. (And don’t upload material inappropriate to a particular archive — we hope that this advice would be obvious, but experience suggests otherwise.)
Many archives are mirrored, which means that the contents of an archive are copied mechanically from the home server to other servers. Usually, the mirroring systems are larger and faster than the home server, so getting material from the mirror is easier than from the home system. Mirrors are usually updated daily, so everything on the home system is also at the mirrors.
Tip When you have a choice of mirrors, use the one that’s closest to you. You want the one that’s closest in terms of the number of network links between you and it. Because the number of hops is practically impossible to figure out, however, use the mirror that’s physically closest. In particular, use one in your own country if at all possible, because international network links are relatively slow and congested.