Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between FTP and SMTP


FTP and SMTP are two TCP protocols that are not as common as the very popular HTTP. While HTTP works to serve web pages, FTP and SMTP serve totally different purposes; and that is the main difference between FTP and SMTP. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it is used to send and retrieve files to a remote location. In comparison, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or SMTP is a protocol used for sending and receiving email; although in most modern examples, it is only used for sending email while the receiving is done by other protocols like POP and IMAP.

FTP and SMTP are not really related to each other, so you cannot use one instead of the other. The intended use dictates the protocol that you should use. If you want to download files, you should use FTP, if you want to send emails, then you should use SMTP.

Since both are just protocols and not actual applications themselves, there is a need for them to be implemented in an application. This makes it even easier for end-users because they no longer need to worry about the exact protocol that they need to use. If you use an e-mail client like Thunderbird or Outlook, it will automatically support SMTP. If you use downloaders like Download Accelerator Plus or GetRight, it will automatically support FTP as well as other protocols used in downloading files.

There is also a major difference between FTP and SMTP if you do not have the appropriate application because you can use FTP even without an application that has a GUI. Most operating systems are able to make use of FTP via the command line. It is fairly easy to use if you are used to command lines like those available on DOS, Linux, Unix, and even Windows. It gets the job done if you just want to move a file or two but gets really tedious if you want to move entire folders and the like. SMTP cannot be used in the command line. It is simply not practical to type your entire message into a single command. It is much easier to use a GUI instead.


  1. FTP is used for the transfer of files while SMTP is used for email
  2. FTP can be used in the command line while SMTP cannot

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