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What is FTP?

Last modified: October 1, 2022
Estimated reading time: 2 min

What Is File Transfer Protocol (FTP?)

In simple terms, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a tool we use to move files over the internet. It’s one of the oldest network protocols people still in use today. If you’ve ever downloaded something from the internet, then it seems like you’ve used FTP before.

However, we can also use FTP to download and upload web pages. The protocol is based on the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol). Each time when you try to transfer files on the internet, TCP/IP is simply sending those files from a personal computer to an online server and vice-versa.

Nonetheless, one of the major challenges we all face when using FTP is security. The malicious activities were rare when FTP was first developed. Today, the rise of cyber security threats has threatened us to be more cautious. Therefore, we should start to strengthen security as well as using encrypted protocols. If you do not want to expose your computer to those threats, we recommend you to use either FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure) or sFTP (Secure Shell File Transfer Protocol ).

Unlike the unencrypted FTP, data that we through FTPS and sFTP cannot be intercepted and read, which ensures that the information is safe. Both use different authentication options to protect your files. Moreover, if you’re wondering which is best for you, sFTP is a solid choice.

Why is it a better choice? Well, the major advantage of sFTP is the use of a single ‘port number’ for all its connections. In contrast, FTPS requires us to create a new port number each time making a transfer request. This exposes your information to a significantly higher level of risk.

FTP Client

Do you remember the mention of the FTP Client? Well, you will first need an aboveboard FTP client, in order to use the full range of file transfer flexibility with added security measures through a secure data connection, 

When using an FTP client, you can use the application to log into a secure FTP server. Besides, you can also use it to browse the server’s file folder structure and upload or download files. These are the prime functions of all FTP clients. They differ from the built-in file transfer protocol of today’s web browsers. This is because they are tailored specifically for those functions.

Nowadays, fully-loaded web editor software such as Dreamweaver and RapidWeaver comes to equip with built-in FTP functions. However, if you’re looking for a stand-alone FTP client for major file transfers, there is a plethora on the market to choose from. Furthermore, FTP clients can run the gamut from free to expensive.

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