Best way to retrieve data/files from a server?

I was wondering if i had to say simply retrieve data from a server whether it be simple plain text for variables or download whole files (FTP), what would be the best method for this? I would imagine there is a pretty big difference between retrieving text and downloading files but im just wondering what the best thing would be to research for both.
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It is absolutely no difference whatsoever between text files or another type of files if you want to retrieve them from a webserver.
No i meant just read data, not actually grab a text file.
In the end, the client and server exchange data using read and write respectively, so in that sense it doesn't matter.

Depending on the actual application, it may be convenient to choose some particular format. That's where the complexity arises, in determining what the request/reply conversation looks like; the protocol. If you don't do this, the server won't understand what's being requested and the client won't understand what it's receiving.
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