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Difference Between FTP and SSH

ftp_httpFTP vs. SSH

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, a protocol that was created for the transferring of files from a remote location to a local computer, or vice versa. On the other hand, Secure Shell, or SSH, is network protocol that facilitates the communication between two computers, regardless of distance, as long as there is an electrical path for the travel of communication.

FTP is rather old, as it was created prior to the evolution of public networks, as we see them today. Due to this fact, the creators of FTP did not see the need for securing the data, or the authentication of usernames and passwords, and actually sends them in plain text. This means that anybody with the knowledge to sniff data packets will be able to reconstruct the data being transferred, or worse, get the username and password, gaining full access to the remote site. The name Secure Shell should already give you a decent idea of the security of SSH. SSH was actually created after a sniffing attack was conducted on the Helsinki University of Technology. It replaces the antiquated and vulnerable Telnet protocol that was in prominent use at that time. The security of SSH is implemented by encrypting the data before it is sent out. This is then only decrypted at the designated location.

As a file transfer protocol, FTP is only capable of transferring files from one point to another, and some basic file operations, like copying, moving, or deleting files and directories. SSH goes far beyond this, as it allows the user to issue commands that can be interpreted and executed on the remote computer by a listening server. It can also be used for tunneling, monitoring certain services and applications that are running, and even for transferring files.

Despite the age of both FTP and SSH, they are still in widespread use around the world, in one form or another. Almost all website hosting providers offer FTP access to user accounts, to provide a convenient way of uploading files to their accounts. Although SSH access is not as common as FTP, some providers do offer it, as it provides the user with more control and greater freedom in managing their sites.


1. FTP is a file transfer protocol, while SSH is a network protocol.

2. FTP is inherently unsecure,, while SSH is inherently secure.

3. FTP only allows the control of files, while SSH allows a wide variety of applications.

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