The File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules computers in a network apply to communicate with each other. It gives instructions for servers to transfer data to clients.

To facilitate the transfer of data, FTP is designed on a client-server model with a control and data connection between client and server. It uses TCP/IP to accomplish this, which allows for file transfers across different devices on the internet.

It can verify user accounts with a piece of text in clear form, such as username and password. If unrecognized protocols are allowed on the other end then FTP is anonymous. It relies on SSL/TLS or SFTP to protect usernames and passwords from being read by hackers, and encrypts sent data so that no one will know what

FTP is an efficient file-sharing protocol. It permits sharing of files across remote electronic devices, and on a local network, which can be accessed by other people with FTP clients.

What will we learn?

  • Functionality
  • Transfer Protocols
  • FTP
  • HTTP
  • FTP Types
  • FTP Explorer
  • FTP by Mail
  • FTP Site
  • FTP Server
  • FTP Client
  • FTP server
  • How Do FTP Servers Work
  • What is FTP Client
  • FTP Port
  • How To Use FTP
  • History


FTP uses the client-server model in which the FTP client and the FTP server will operate whole file transfer from one device to another in a network. The FTP server will be identified, configured in the network and a specific storage location (such as a folder). This specific location now works as a new storage location for transferring file that host the data that users want to share.

FTP, which is short for |File Transfer Protocol|, can be accessed through a network connection and requires an FTP client in order to convert the received data into something usable on a local system.

For data to be downloaded, it first needs an agent of communication: The FTP client. To upload data back to the server again after a download, another such agent is needed - the FTP server.

FTP servers handle client requests for transferring data, as well as initiate a connection with an FTP client to start the transfer process. FTP servers can serve files in both download and upload configurations.

While the user remains logged in, the control connection will stay connected and FTP must be used to maintain a seamless experience. Unlike HTTP - stateless protocol does not require any managing of user state.

FTPs can perform several tasks, including the following:

  • Files transfer between different computers
  • Create directories
  • Remove directories
  • List files

File Transfer Protocol, FTP, has three types of data structures.

  • Record Structure - In this structure, the files are made up of sequential records.
  • Page structure - The files are made up of independent indexed pages.
  • File structure - In this data structure, no internal structures and files are considered to be a continuous sequence of data bytes.

Transfer Protocols

The two most common file transfer protocols are HTTP and FTP. They both serve different purposes but can work together in tandem to better increase efficiency when transferring files, like with SMTP for mail servers and FTP for remote data storage.


  • It transmits data from one host to another.
  • Creates two connections: one for the control connection and another for data.
  • The File Transfer Protocol will show in the URL.
  • Best for transferring huge data.
  • It requires a password.
  • When you store data through FTP, the transfer happens to a host devices memory.


  • Used to access websites.
  • Establish data connection only.
  • HTTP will show in the URL.
  • Best in transferring small data, such as web pages.
  • There is no authentication process to use this.
  • The data transmitted through HTTP is stored in the device memory.

The File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, is older than HTTP and will eventually be replaced by it.

FTP Types

FTP Explorer

This is a client application designed to look like an explorer file system view of the Microsoft Windows UI.

FTP by Mail

FTP by mail permits the user who has no internet access to use a computer which has FTP and anonymous FTP. It did this by sending an email with the word “help” (in capital letters) in the body of the text.

FTP Site

It is a website where users can download or upload data.

FTP Server

FTP servers are appointed computers that enable FTP service. They invite hackers because of their limited security and require software to prevent access and standard securities, like a username or password to enter them.

FTP Client

A FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client is a computer application that accesses an FTP server. It requires you to block incoming connections using passive mode and scan all files downloaded for viruses.

FTP server

We have explained about FTP earlier; its time to understand the FTP server. The File Transfer Protocol is the way of connecting one computer with another in a safe manner, so files can be transferred from one place and exchanged at another point through this means.

How Do FTP Servers Work?

File Transfer Protocol servers are used to facilitate file transfers across the internet. If a user sends files through FTP, files can either be downloaded or uploaded to the server. When a user uploads data, the files are transferred from their computer to the server. And when a user downloads data, the files are transferred from the server and onto their computer.

What is an FTP Client?

A FTP client is a type of software that uses the file transfer protocol (FTP) to send and receive files.

FTP Port

The FTP server typically listens to port 21 for incoming connections. The client will then connect on this same port and start the conversation. This is called Command Connection or the Control Connection.

How To Use FTP - Step by Step Guide?

To use the FTP server or access files on the FTP server, follow the below steps:

  • Open a file explorer and type ftp://serverIP.
  • Enter the username and password.
  • Click Login.
  • The folders and files appear under the FTP server.


The first FTP standard was published by Abhay Bhushan of MIT in 1971, which is still in use today. The first version, RFC 114, introduced text-only connections and required people to become a member before downloading the file. Other versions were released between 1971 and 1980: RFC 172, RFC 265, and RFC 354. A new version of the protocol was released in 1985 which did away with the membership requirement and allowed the use of a remote computer to transfer data.

From 1980 to 1997, RFCs were introduced which detail client-server functions. The FTP protocol was applied in the third generation of FTPS to also address security concerns, with IPv6 and NAT extension applications made available in 1998.

The SFTP protocol was presented as part of the RFC 4251 standard in 1997 and has been gradually adopted by some industries. If compared with FTP, it provides a higher level of governance, security, and file transfer control while supporting two widely used protocols: FTPS (Fully-encrypted File Transfer Protocol) and SFTP.