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Difference Between FTP and HTTP

ftp_httpFTP vs HTTP

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) are only two of the multitude of protocols that are being used in the internet, each with its own function. The purpose of HTTP is to serve as a means of accessing the world wide web. Websites are accessed using http with the help of browsers. FTP, as the name implies, is used in transferring files from one computer to another. It is a less popular protocol due to small number of people who actually use FTP, and even fewer people who know that they are using it.

Most people don’t actually know it, but the HTTP protocol is in use every time we open a site, check our email, or update our blogs. This can be easily checked by looking at the address bar and looking at the very first few letters; chances are its HTTP. The great majority of people who use the FTP protocol are the people who maintain and routinely upload files to websites. FTP provides an easy and hassle free method of site maintenance.

FTP is also a good option for people who want to download files. There are FTP servers who host files and allow people to anonymously login to their site and download huge files. But downloading isn’t a capability that is purely held by FTP, it can also be done with HTTP. The rise in popularity of downloads in HTTP is due largely to its linkage with the world wide web. Most sites that offer content for downloads have their files hosted in an HTTP server so that visitors can easily browse and select their files.

FTP is already old and most of the newer users are beginning to adapt other protocols as a replacement like gopher. It would only be a matter of time before FTP becomes totally obsolete. HTTP, on the other hand, is still going strong and would remain as the dominant internet protocol for years to come. There are multiple languages that are being developed for use with and to improve the HTTP protocol.

1. HTTP is used to view websites while FTP is used to access and transfer files.
2. The common HTTP client is the browser while FTP can be accessed via the command line or a graphical client of its own.
3. Most people use HTTP while only a few use FTP, mostly people who maintain websites.
4. Downloading files can either be via HTTP or FTP.
5. FTP is slowly being replaced by other protocols while HTTP will remain for the foreseeable future.

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  1. I encountered this page while googling about the difference btw ftp and http in downloading files.
    Your article, as any article I read in this subject, doesn`t specify which protocol is better for downloading, say, a Linux image, when both are available.

  2. This was a very good article explaining the differences between http and ftp. I do some web hosting and maintenance and use an ftp program.

  3. Thank you. I got cleared my confusion

  4. Good!

  5. Thanks! Good article.

  6. It was really helpful to understand the difference between FTP & HTTP. Thanks. Keep up the good work.

  7. I have been searching for an explanation of the difference between http and tcp/ip for literally hours, and I was having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Your explanation really helped this to click for me. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for the article. I’m still confused what the actual difference is. Is one faster in different situations?
    This article does a great job explaining what they are used for but I think the how, and the why are missing. Why is ftp being phased out? Why does http work well for browsers? What’s the actual difference between them besides their name and what they are used for?

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