March 7th, 2014 by Rossy Guide

What is FTP

FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard network protocol used to transfer files from one host to another host over a TCP-based network, such as the Internet.

FTP, you can update (delete, rename, move, and copy) files at a server. You need to logon to an FTP server. However, publicly available files are easily accessed using anonymous FTP.

Basic FTP support is usually provided as part of a suite of programs that come with TCP/IP. However, any FTP client program with a graphical user interface usually must be downloaded from the company that makes it.


What is SFTP

In computing, the SSH File Transfer Protocol (also Secure File Transfer Protocol, or SFTP) is a network protocol that provides file access, file transfer, and file management functionalities over any reliable data stream. It was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as an extension of the Secure Shell protocol (SSH) version 2.0 to provide secure file transfer capability, but is also intended to be usable with other protocols.

This protocol assumes that it is run over a secure channel, such as SSH, that the server has already authenticated the client, and that the identity of the client user is available to the protocol. SSH File Transfer Protocol (“SFTP”) is sometimes also used instead of ftp.             SFTP clients are programs that use SSH to access, manage, and transfer files. SFTP clients are functionally similar to FTP clients, but they use different protocols.



The list below shows only those features which differ between the protocols, so it is not complete listing.






Secure (SSH) Optionally secure (FTP over TLS/SSL)


Generally slowest (encryption and necessity to wait for packet confirmations). Generally fastest file transfer (no encryption and efficient file transfer), yet transfer setup is slow, so transfer of large number of small files can be slow.

Large files

Supports files over 4 GiB (uses 64-bit sizes). Supports files over 4 GiB.

Append to end of file

Supported. Supported. Unsupported by WinSCP.

Directory operations

Recursive operations with directories (deletion, permissions change) must be performed separately for each file. Thus operations can take a long time, especially for directories with a large number of files.

File renaming and moving

Supported since SFTP-2. Supported.


Generally, only login information is needed.




FTP and SFTP is a good solution for keeping backups however it’s not perfect. Using FTP/SFTP as storage is much cheaper but in the return you get lower reliability and weaker security level than those for cloud storage services. Anyway FTP and SFTP still are the best choice for keeping large amounts of frequently used data which is not too sensitive.

If you’ve got a choice between the two connections, always make sure you’re using SFTP. Most hosting services, today, use only SFTP; but buyers beware. There are those few out there that either allow or require you to use standard FTP. Avoid it. It’s not safe and secure.

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