FTP (File Transfer Protocol)


  • FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol.
  • FTP defines the set of rules to transfer any type of file on a TCP/IP based network.
  • FTP is a method whereby you can connect to a remote computer known as an FTP site and transfer files to your own PC’s hard disk.
  • This protocol enables users to perform various file operations such as uploading or downloading files, renaming or deleting files, navigating the directory structure, etc.
  • FTP is the fastest way to transfer files from one computer to another.
  • In FTP terminology, the computer on which you are working is called the local host, and the other computer is known as the remote host.
  • Files stored on an FTP server can be accessed using an FTP client such as a web browser, an FTP software program, or using command line interface.

Features of FTP:

Following are the main features of the File Transfer Protocol.

  • For useful files and programs, FTP servers provide a storage place.
  • You can login on to these servers and download the files to your local computer.
  • You have to know the server name and where the file is located (subdirectory and filename).
  • It is driven by commands such as open, bye, get.
  • It is hard to see the general structure or layout of any FTP server.

Objectives of FTP:

Following are the basic objectives of the File Transfer Protocol.

  • It provides the sharing of computer programs, files, and data.
  • It encourages indirect use of remote computers.
  • It shields a user from variations in file storage systems among hosts.
  • It transfers data reliably and efficiently. FTP, though usable directly by a user at a terminal, is designed mainly for use by programs.

Anonymous and Non-anonymous FTP:

There are two types of FTP connections available on the Internet, namely anonymous and non-anonymous. The most widely used type is anonymous. An anonymous FTP is a service that allows a user to retrieve documents, files, programs, and other data from anywhere on the Internet with a username “anonymous” and the user’s valid e-mail address as a password. A non-anonymous FTP, on the other hand, requires a unique username and password for access to the FTP directory.

Working of FTP:

FTP works on communication between clients and servers. A client is simply a computer that requests information from an FTP server. On receiving the request, the FTP server provides the desired information to the client. FTP-based communications make use of the following two channels.

  • Control Channel- Remains connected during the communication between the client and the server.
  • Data Channel- Opens and closes only when data has to be transferred between the client and server.

The FTP server keeps running as a background process. When the client requests permission to connect to the server for file transfer, the server verifies the authentication details of the user. If the details are verified, the server permits the client to upload or download the requested files. FileZilla is an example of FTP software.

FileZilla is an example of FTP software
Note: SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. It is a file transfer protocol such as FTP yet operates over a secure network protocol like SSH. Using SFTP for file transferring because it adds a layer of security and transferred data is encrypted, so it is not sent in clear text.

Advantages of FTP:

Following are the advantages of the File Transfer Protocol.

  • It is very useful to transfer files from one network in an organization to another.
  • It prevents users from variations in file storage systems among different hosts.
  • It performs automatic error detection and correction during file transfers.
  • It is a potent and popular way to share information over the Internet.

Disadvantages of FTP:

Following are the disadvantages of the File Transfer Protocol.

  • It does not allow the encoding of passwords and file contents before sending. They are sent in clear text which can be intercepted by eavesdroppers.
  • It requires several commands to initiate a transfer.
  • It does not provide any integrity checks on the receiver side. That is, if the file transfer is interrupted in between, the receiver will not be able to know if the received file is complete or not.

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Applications of Computer
File Transfer Protocol– Wikipedia

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