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Difference Between FTP and SFTP

ftp_httpFTP vs. SFTP

File Transfer Protocol (also known as FTP) is a network protocol which is implemented in order to exchange files over a TCP/IP network – that is the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol. FTP uses password authentication created by the user. Although user-based password authentication is usually implemented, anonymous user access is also available through an FTP server.

SSH File Transfer Protocol (also known as Secure File Transfer Protocol, or SFTP) is a network protocol which allows file access, transfer, and management over a secure data stream. It is an extension of the 2.0 version of the Secure Shell (or SSH) protocol, whose purpose is to provide secure transfer capabilities. It is also intended to work functionally with other protocols.

As mentioned, FTP is accessible anonymously. This means that the user may login to this server with an ‘anonymous’ account when given a prompt for a username and password. In most cases, a user without a direct account with the host computer will be prompted to use his or her email address in lieu of a password; however, there is virtually no verification process that takes place once that information is supplied (such as at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information).

SFTP protocol has a varying and wide range of operations that are accessible on remote files. Some of its more notable features include resuming interrupted transfers, directory listings, and remote file removal. Compared to other protocols (namely, the Secure Copy Protocol, or SCP), SFTP is more ‘fluid’ as a protocol, and is more platform-independent. As a result, the SFTP protocol is available on a variety of platforms.

FTP servers have authentication and encryption protocols in place. Where such access is restricted, a remote FTP (FTP mail) service can be implemented in order to get around the problem of restriction. This allows access, but restricts the user from viewing directories, or modifying commands. Similarly, SFTP offers an interactive interface with a command-line program that implements client communication. Unlike FTP, the SFTP protocol is encrypted, making traditional proxies ineffective with regards to controlling SFTP traffic.


1. FTP is a network protocol used to exchange files over a TCP/IP network; SFTP is a network protocol which allows file access, transfer, and management over a data stream.

2. FTP is accessible anonymously, and in most cases is not encrypted; SFTP protocol is encrypted, and makes the control of traffic ineffective when using traditional proxies.

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