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Difference Between FTP and TFTP

computer1FTP vs TFTP

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. Even though user-based password authentication is usually implemented, anonymous user access is also available through an FTP server.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (also known as TFTP) is a network protocol which is implemented in order to transfer files as well. It was first defined in 1980, with the functionality of a simple FTP server. Because of its simplicity, it can be implemented with very little memory waste on the part of its home computer. As such, at its inception, TFTP was used to boot computers or routers. That being said, it is also useful for transferring small amounts of data between networks (i.e. IP phone firmware).

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).

TFTP is used mainly to transfer files from (or write them to) a remote server. Because it is an open protocol, there is a shortage of security – meaning it is very dangerous to transfer files over an open server across the internet. As such, TFTP is usually only used on private and/or local networks. Unfortunately, there is no authentication process, thus no encryption mechanism, put in place. As a result of its simplicity, TFTP can only transfer files as big as a terabyte, and allows oversized data packets to transfer – which could cause huge delays in file transmission.

Unlike TFTP, FTP servers have an authentication and encryption protocol 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.


1. FTP is a user-based password network protocol used to transfer data across a network; TFTP is a network protocol that does not have any authentication processes.

2. FTP may be accessed anonymously, but the amount of information transferred is limited; TFTP has no encryption process in place, and can only successfully transfer files that are not larger than one terabyte.

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