FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.

It is a standard network protocol used for transferring files between a client and a server over a computer network, typically the internet. FTP is commonly used for uploading files to a web server, downloading files from a server, or transferring files between computers.

The Basics

Here are some key points about FTP:

1. Client-Server Architecture: FTP operates on a client-server model. The client is typically a computer or a device that initiates the file transfer, while the server is a remote computer that hosts the files and accepts the transfer requests from clients.

2. Port-Based Protocol: FTP uses two communication channels: a command channel and a data channel. The command channel, which operates on port 21, is used for sending commands from the client to the server (e.g., listing directories, initiating file transfers). The data channel, which operates on port 20, is used for transferring the actual file data.

3. Authentication: FTP supports authentication mechanisms to verify the identity of users accessing the server. Typically, users need to provide a username and password to establish a connection and gain access to their designated directories on the server.

4. Modes of Operation: FTP offers two modes of operation: active mode and passive mode. In active mode, the client opens a port and listens for the server to establish the data connection. In passive mode, the server opens a port and listens for the client to establish the data connection. Passive mode is commonly used in scenarios where the client is behind a firewall or NAT (Network Address Translation).

File Transfer Protocol (continued)

5. File Operations: FTP supports a range of file operations, including uploading files from the client to the server (put), downloading files from the server to the client (get), renaming files, deleting files, creating directories, and navigating through directory structures.

6. Transfer Modes: FTP supports different transfer modes to accommodate different file types. It can transfer files in ASCII mode, which is suitable for text-based files, and binary mode, which is used for non-text files like images, executables, or compressed files. The appropriate mode is automatically determined based on the file extension or explicitly specified by the user.

7. Security Considerations: By default, FTP does not provide encryption for data transmission. This means that usernames, passwords, and file contents are sent in plain text. To enhance security, FTP can be used in conjunction with secure protocols like FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS) or SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) that provide encryption and secure authentication.

8. Applications: FTP is widely used in various scenarios, such as website maintenance, file sharing, software distribution, and remote backup. It provides a convenient method for transferring files between computers and servers over a network.

9. Alternatives: While FTP is still commonly used, alternative file transfer methods like SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) and HTTP-based protocols (e.g., WebDAV) have gained popularity due to their enhanced security, compatibility, and ease of use.


FTP remains a widely used protocol for file transfer, particularly in scenarios where simplicity and wide compatibility are important factors. However, it is worth noting that secure alternatives like SFTP and FTPS are recommended when transferring sensitive data over untrusted networks.

FTP & FileZilla go hand-in-hand,

So be sure to check out the following article, together with an easy video summary on both FTP & FileZilla:

Simplify Your File Transfers with FileZilla FTP Client