File Transfer Protocol: Its working and Importance

There are certain protocols that you need to take care of while transferring something. In terms of technology, these protocols have utmost importance. File Transfer Protocol is one of those network protocols which is associated with the transmission of files between different computers using IP connections.

In such transactions, the terms used commonly are Local Host (end user’s PC) and Remote Host (a server). If both the setups aren’t connected with the help of a network, there is no way for you to transfer the files. Servers need to run FTP services and the software should also be installed in both the computers.

There are other protocols as well which one can use in this regard. But mostly for banking services, only FTP is a suitable option. It also helps to download apps using the browser.

Let’s take a look at how FTP works and what’s its importance.

 Working of FTP

There are two main channels through which client and server communicate using FTP. One of them is Command Channel which is there to control the conversation. While the other one is Data Channel which helps to transmit the files.

File transfer happens via FTP in the following way:

The user must be logged in to the server to make the entire content or some part of it available on FTP.

User sends a request then for downloading the file. That’s how the communication between client and server starts.

FTP allows the client to delete, move, rename, download or copy a file on the server.

Apart from that, there are two modes in which FTP works:

·       Active Mode

Once the session between them starts, a data connection is created by the server and data transfer starts. This is what we call Active mode.

·       Passive Mode

Server uses command channel for sending the relevant information to client, which will ultimately allow the client to open data channel. Passive mode usually deals with the client because it has to start the connections.

Here is a picture that will tell you the difference between Active and Passive modes clearly.

File Transfer Protocol: Its working and Importance
File Transfer Protocol: Its working and Importance

Simple command-line interfaces are enough for a user to work with File Transfer Protocol. And these interfaces are available in Windows, Linux and Apple macOS. As mentioned earlier, some web browsers are also capable of working as the clients for FTP.

Importance and Uses of FTP

FTP allows the transfer of heavy and expansive files across different IP networks. But there are other ways to do it also, we can send the files using HTTP service or through email. But the only thing that keeps FTP into play is the focus and control which is important also. Moreover, the precision it offers is second to none which is why most banking and other services use FTP to keep their data secure as well as under control.

Following are the uses of FTP that will let you know about its importance even more.

·       Backup

Sometimes, cyber criminals attack the websites and there evolves a chance that the company or user will end up losing all the data. For that, you must have data in backup for your company or system to keep working even after such attacks. So, users or backup services may use FTP to transfer the data to a more secure location where it is safe and away from the range of cyberbullying.

·       Replication

Replication is quite similar to backup, it also involves the transfer of data to keep it somewhere else also. But this method requires an even better approach for providing greater resilience and availability. File Transfer Protocol helps in this regard as well.

·       Access

You may also use FTP for web hosting and for data loading on remote systems. Such services aren’t offered by many other protocols which is why FTP is an automatic choice when it comes to these.

Let’s take a look at the types of this network protocol.

Types of  File Transfer Protocol

These types are simply the ways of sharing the files between a client and server.

·       Anonymous FTP

The basics of FTP start from here because you’re allowed to transfer the data without even mentioning the username or password. If you want to download something that doesn’t refrain from unrestricted distribution, just go for this option.

·       Password-Protected type

This one is similar to anonymous FTP but you need to enter a valid username along with password to make it work. But it isn’t guaranteed that the service will be secure. Port 21 is the only platform where it works.

·       FTP-SSL

FTP-SSL enables a security layer just after the connection between client and server is established. This ultimately helps in secured transfer of data which is usually what you want as a client. This mainly works on Port 990.

·       FTPES

The Transport Security Layer is also available with this kind of FTP but it is done by making the connection an encrypted one rather than simple FTP connection. Different Web hosting services use this kind of FTP to ensure that the data being transferred stays secure.

·       SFTP

Technically, most professionals don’t consider it an FTP protocol but since its working is similar to FTP, it is considered to be one of its types. Secure File Transfer Protocol is simply a part of Secure Shell Protocol which works on Port 22 only. SSH helps the administrators to access different applications and systems while SFTP offers a mechanism through which data transfer occurs in the most suitable way.


FTP was started back in 1970s and it has been updated quite a few times after its arrival. These updates were mainly brought to help different technologies accommodate according to the circumstances and to ensure that the data transferred among different companies stays safe. The encryption of FTP with FTPS or FTPES guarantees you the security of your data by not allowing any attacker to attack the site in order to have the data needed to run the system. All   in all, FTP is something really valuable and it has proved its worth many a times over the years.