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FTP vs. SFTP: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a standard network protocol for transferring files between computers, whereas SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a secure version of FTP that encrypts data during transfer.
FTP vs. SFTP

Key Differences

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a long-established protocol used for transferring files between two computers over a network. It operates on a client-server model and uses separate control and data connections between the client and the server. SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), on the other hand, is a more secure version of FTP. It is part of the SSH (Secure Shell) protocol suite, which provides a secure channel over an unsecured network.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 16, 2023
When using FTP, data is transferred in plain text, making it vulnerable to interception and eavesdropping. This is a significant security risk, especially when transferring sensitive or confidential information. In contrast, SFTP encrypts the data during transfer, preventing unauthorized access. This encryption includes both the commands and the data being transferred, offering a much higher level of security.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 16, 2023
In terms of authentication, FTP typically uses a username and password. However, this information can be intercepted easily because it's transmitted in plain text. SFTP requires SSH keys for authentication, which is a more secure method. The keys are almost impossible to decipher, making SFTP a safer option for authentication and data transfer.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 16, 2023
Regarding file management capabilities, FTP offers basic functionality like uploading, downloading, renaming, and deleting files. SFTP, in addition to these features, also provides the ability to resume interrupted transfers, directory listings, and remote file manipulation. This makes SFTP more versatile and suitable for a broader range of file management tasks.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 16, 2023
Finally, concerning compatibility, FTP is widely supported and has been the standard for file transfers for many years. However, due to its security vulnerabilities, many organizations are transitioning to SFTP for enhanced security. SFTP's reliance on SSH also means it's more likely to be allowed through corporate firewalls, which often block FTP.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 16, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Security

Transfers data in plain text
Encrypts data during transfer
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Authentication

Uses username and password
Utilizes SSH keys for authentication
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Data Integrity

Vulnerable to interception
Secure, with encrypted data transfers
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File Management

Basic file transfer capabilities
Advanced features like resuming transfers
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Network Compatibility

Commonly blocked by firewalls
Often allowed through firewalls due to SSH
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FTP and SFTP Definitions

FTP

A method for moving large files across the Internet.
We'll FTP the video files to the client.
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Dec 11, 2023

SFTP

An extension of SSH providing secure file transfer capabilities.
We've switched to SFTP for enhanced security during file transfers.
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FTP

A protocol for transferring files between computers on a network.
I used FTP to upload the website files to the server.
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Dec 11, 2023

SFTP

A protocol for secure file transfer over SSH.
SFTP ensures that our file transfers are encrypted and secure.
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FTP

A means to access and transfer files between remote computers.
She used FTP to access her work files from home.
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Dec 11, 2023
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SFTP

A secure version of FTP that encrypts file transfers.
To protect sensitive data, we use SFTP for file transfers.
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FTP

A protocol for managing and transferring files in a networked environment.
FTP allows for easy update of files on a remote server.
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Dec 11, 2023

SFTP

A secure file transfer protocol within the SSH suite.
For encrypted file transfers, SFTP is our preferred protocol.
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Dec 11, 2023

FTP

A system for exchanging files over a TCP/IP network.
FTP is often used for downloading open-source software.
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Dec 11, 2023

SFTP

A method to securely transfer files between hosts.
SFTP is critical for maintaining confidentiality in data exchange.
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Dec 11, 2023

FTP

A communications protocol governing the transfer of files from one computer to another over a network.
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Dec 08, 2023

FTP

To transfer (a file) using FTP.
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FTP

To transfer a file using FTP.
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FTP

An acronym for file transfer protocol, a standardized protocol used to allow transmission of files between computers; as, send me the file by ftp. It consists of a set of coded signals which are transmitted between computers, and which inform the receiving computer of the nature of a packet of information to be transmitted, and inform the transmitting computer when a packet has been successfully received.
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FTP

To send from one computer to another by means of the standard file transfer protocol (ftp); as, he ftp'd me the file yesterday.
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FTP

Protocol that allows users to copy files between their local system and any system they can reach on the network
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FTP

Use the File Transfer Protocol to transfer data from one computer to another;
You can FTP these data
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is FTP?

FTP is a standard network protocol used for transferring files between computers on a network.
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Dec 16, 2023

Do I need special software to use FTP?

Yes, you need an FTP client to connect to an FTP server.
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Is SFTP compatible with all operating systems?

Yes, SFTP clients are available for most operating systems.
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Can FTP be used for large file transfers?

Yes, FTP can be used for transferring large files.
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How does SFTP enhance security?

SFTP encrypts the data transfer, making it safe from eavesdropping.
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Can SFTP be used with any FTP server?

No, SFTP requires an SSH-compatible server.
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Can SFTP resume interrupted file transfers?

Yes, SFTP supports resuming interrupted file transfers.
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What is SFTP?

SFTP is a secure version of FTP that encrypts data during transfer.
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Does SFTP require SSH keys?

Yes, SFTP commonly uses SSH keys for secure authentication.
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Are there any file size limits for SFTP?

SFTP does not have inherent file size limits, but server settings might impose limits.
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How secure is FTP?

FTP is not secure as it transfers data in plain text.
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Is FTP still commonly used?

Yes, despite its security flaws, FTP is still widely used.
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Dec 16, 2023

What are the advantages of SFTP over FTP?

SFTP offers enhanced security with encryption and better file management features.
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Do web browsers support SFTP?

Most web browsers do not natively support SFTP.
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Can FTP be made as secure as SFTP?

FTP can be secured using methods like FTPS, but it's not as inherently secure as SFTP.
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Is SFTP slower than FTP due to encryption?

The encryption in SFTP can make it slightly slower than FTP.
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Is it easy to switch from FTP to SFTP?

Switching requires some configuration, but it's generally straightforward.
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Is SFTP the same as FTPS?

No, SFTP is an extension of SSH, while FTPS is FTP secured with SSL/TLS.
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Dec 16, 2023

Can I use SFTP for anonymous file transfers?

No, SFTP requires authentication, making anonymous transfers impossible.
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Are there free SFTP clients available?

Yes, there are several free SFTP client applications available.
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Dec 16, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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