FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained

FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) allows you to transfer copies of files between two computers using a simple network protocol based on Internet Protocol. File Transfer Protocol is also the term used when referring to the process of copying files using File Transfer Protocol technology.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained
FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained

How File Transfer Protocol Works

FTP was developed during the 1970s and 1980s to support file sharing on TCP/IP and older networks. The protocol follows the client-server model of communication. To transfer files with File Transfer Protocol, a user runs an FTP client program and initiates a connection to a remote computer running FTP server software. After the connection is established, the client can choose to send and/or receive copies of files, singly or in groups.

The original File Transfer Protocol clients were command line programs for Unix operating systems; Unix users ran 'ftp' command line client programs to connect to File Transfer Protocol servers and either upload or download files. A variation of File Transfer Protocol called Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) was also developed to support low-end computer systems. TFTP provides the same basic support as FTP but with a simplified protocol and set of commands limited to the most common file transfer operations. Later, Windows FTP client software became popular as Microsoft Windows users preferred to have graphical interfaces to FTP systems.

A File Transfer Protocol server listens on TCP port 21 for incoming connection requests from FTP clients. The server uses this port to control the connection and opens a separate port for transferring file data.

How to Use File Transfer Protocol for File Sharing

To connect to an FTP server, a client requires a username and password as set by the administrator of the server. Many so-called public FTP sites do not require a password but instead follow a special convention that accepts any client using "anonymous" as its username. For any FTP site public or private, clients identify the File Transfer Protocol server either by its IP address (such as or by its hostname (such as ftp.about.com).

Simple FTP clients are included with most network operating systems, but most of these clients (such as FTP.EXE on Windows) support a relatively unfriendly command-line interface. Many alternative third-party File Transfer Protocol clients have been developed that support graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and additional convenience features.

FTP supports two modes of data transfer: plain text (ASCII), and binary. You set the mode in the File Transfer Protocol client. A common error when using File Transfer Protocol is attempting to transfer a binary file (such as a program or music file) while in text mode, causing the transferred file to be unusable.

Alternatives to File Transfer Protocol

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing systems like BitTorrent offer more advanced and secure forms of file sharing than FTP technology offers. These plus modern cloud-based file sharing systems like Box and Dropbox have largely eliminated the need for File Transfer Protocol on the Internet.
FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained FTP - File Transfer Protocol Explained Reviewed by Technowap on November 13, 2018 Rating: 5

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