FXP (File Exchange Protocol)
No, I’m not repeating myself, there is a subtle difference between FTP and FXP. The former protocol allows you to transfer data from a remote computer to your hard drive, while the latter protocol enables you to transfer data from one FTP site to another FTP site. You may be wondering what the purpose of this is, after all you’ll still have to download the data later on if you want to have a copy of it on your own hard drive. While this is true, to see the real benefits of FXP you have to look beyond personal gain, or at least look towards the long term goals of deferring that personal gain.
By setting up an FXP transfer you use the slower of the two connection speeds of the computers you wish to transfer data between. So even if you only have a 56k modem, it is possible to transfer data at the speed of a T3 connection for example. The speed of your own connection has no bearing on the transfer rate because you are merely acting as the catalyst which triggers the process; since the data never actually touches your own hard drive it is no longer necessary to use your connection once the data transfer wheels have been set in motion. The advantage being that you can make a semi-permanent copy of the software on an FTP site, which can then be downloaded later at your leisure. To make this clearer, imagine that you’ve clicked on several banners to locate the username and password for an FTP site or you’ve uncovered a particularly impressive pub. If you only have a 56k modem it would take days to download the software you require, by which time the IP address or the login combinations may have changed, or the whole thing could have been wiped out by a deleter. By using an FXP client, the whole transfer process takes a fraction of the time it would normally, and because the destination FTP has not yet been publicized the software is likely to remain in tact and safe from deleters (deleters? See the FTP/FXP section of the FAQ for more info).
To get started you will need an FXP client, so head over to www.flashfxp.com and download the trial version of Flash FXP, find the crack and start up the program. Before you can continue you will need a destination FTP site to store all your newly acquired goodies on. This could be a friend’s computer (providing he or she has set it up as an FTP server and has given you the login details), a public FTP site or a free web space account. If you want your own private store you can go along to www.freewebspace.net and perform an advanced search for a free web host account with lots of surplus file storage space. Note that I only mention this option because it is theoretically within the realms of possibility. In reality, you will find that most free web space providers won’t offer enough space to make FXP-ing to their servers worth the trouble, or will have closed off that avenue completely by restricting the flow of data from a remote server. Finding an ‘FXP-able’ server isn’t going to be easy so you may want to forget the idea completely before you get too carried away. These sort of accounts aren’t totally useless, however, as they do allow you to practice your new skills without first having to scan for public FTPs, a talent which you will develop a bit further along the road to FXP enlightenment.
Whenever you open a Flash FXP session you will be presented with a split screen display. The left side of the screen is used for browsing the remote FTP site you wish to transfer data from, and the right side of the screen is used for browsing the destination FTP site. To begin with you will have to enter the IP address of the FTP site you wish to leech or transfer data from. To do this, click on the yellow lightning bolt icon and select ‘quick connect’. Now fill in the login details including the username and password (if they are required). Obviously if you are connecting to a public FTP site these will not be necessary. Click on the connect button, switch to the opposite side of the screen and select ‘quick connect’ once again and enter the login details of your destination FTP site. If you’ve setup an account with a free web space provider, this will most likely be ftp.name-of-free-host.com followed by your username and password. All you have to do now is decide what it is you wish to transfer by highlighting a selection of files, choose the ‘add to queue’ option and push the ‘go’ button. Finally you can sit back and put your feet up while you watch the megabytes accumulate. When the task is complete don’t forget to share your goodies after you have safely downloaded them to your own hard drive.
Although the above tutorial serves to exemplify the FXP process, you will soon discover to your annoyance that very few free web space hosts will allow you to transfer data in this way because it facilitates the trafficking of illegal software. It is for precisely this reason that you will find it necessary to go in search of empty ‘pubs’ in which to transfer your data to instead. Pubs are free for all FTP sites, which permit anonymous access. These are not provided by individuals, but can often be traced back to university, school or company servers. To locate these you will have to use what is known as a port scanner. A good one to start with is Grim’s Ping. This will automatically scan a range of IP addresses for open ports leading to anonymous access public FTPs, whilst simultaneously checking a server’s ping rate (or connection speed) and its permission attributes. Once you find an untagged (one that hasn’t already been claimed by another FXP group), writable pub you can proceed to transfer your data to it using Flash FXP.
Because port scanning really goes well beyond the scope of this newbie’s guide (and can get you into trouble with your ISP!), I have deliberately left this description fairly vague. If you hope to become a competent FXP-er you will have to read around the subject a bit more before it starts to make sense. So instead of jumping straight in at the deep end, I would recommend that you study the tutorials and forums of Ultimate FXP and Net Knowledge Base. If FXP knowledge were weapons, you’d be packing a ridiculous amount of napalm having spent a bit of time between these two camps, and if you can’t satisfy your search for knowledge there make sure you follow their recommended further reading links. Erm… tutorials for the ‘advanced newbie’ I suppose you could call them. If that’s not a perfect example of oxymoron I don’t know what is, but never mind, I don’t think anyone noticed so we’ll just brush that under the carpet and carry on regardless. 😉
It seems that in the world of warez, the newbie is very much neglected, hence my motivation for creating this site. However, when you get a bit more experienced and want to experiment with some of the more advanced data distribution techniques you will discover that there is a wealth of information available to you. For instance, if you wanted to learn how to scan for public FTP sites you could visit the homepages of various FXP groups and browse through the tutorials on offer. So the aim of this section (yes, I’m getting there, slowly, but surely) is to steer you towards some of the most useful tutorials and resources which are provided to explain the more complex aspects of warez distribution.
…and once you become really proficient at this task you can offer your services to one of the FXP groups who turn the process into a way of life. Nearly all FXP groups have their own forum (which you can find in a matter of seconds using Google) and are constantly creating pubs using this method to share software with the rest of the world.
Now I couldn’t let you go without considering a few of the problems involving FXP could I? Well, the major one is that not all FTP sites will give you the rights to transfer data to another FTP. The reason for this is that to use FXP, both hosts must support PASV mode and allow PORT commands to foreign hosts, and clearly not all do. Also, something to consider when using free web space is the type of files you are allowed to store in your account, for example, some servers will not let you transfer mp3 or zip files. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also the problem of losing your anonymity. Unless you are using a proxy server, whenever you connect to an FTP site your real IP address is logged. Therefore your actions can be traced, you can be identified and then reported to your ISP. Apart from these considerations though, FXP is a very useful tool and should be mastered by anyone who is looking for ways to make warez hunting less frustrating while simultaneously giving something back to the scene.