FTP vs. SMB: Exploring Key Differences in File Sharing

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By Susith Nonis

FTP and SMB are two different file transfer protocols. In this post, we will let you know everything about FTP vs SMB and explain the difference between FTP and SMB. So let us get started.

What is FTP?

FTP is an acronym for file transfer protocol that allows you to transfer files between computers. The primary function of FTP is to send and receive files.

You can use FTP to access a remote computer on the network to send, receive, manipulate, and delete data files. In simple words, FTP is used to share data files securely between different computers and networks.

Note: FTP is also used to make changes to a website. Additionally, it handles a larger number of files and offers more security to the users.

Features of FTP

  • FTP is considered the best and fastest way to transfer files from one system to another.
  • While transferring files with FTP, you do not have to complete all the operations to access the entire file. This feature makes FTP very efficient and time-saving.
  • Another feature of FTP is that it allows you to access the files after entering a valid username and password. This feature makes FTP more secure.

Advantages of Using FTP over SMB

  • One of the most significant advantages of FTP is that it offers a high level of security. FTPS and SFTP are secure file transfer protocols and add extra security levels to the basic FTP transfer.
  • FTP servers offer extra control over the data. It allows you to upload, download, edit, delete and share files.
  • FTP also allows you to share large files from one connection to another.
  • It provides a single location to store all the files, resulting in an improved workflow.

Disadvantages of Using FTP

  • The username and password are sent as text, making them easily accessible.
  • It is difficult to filter ongoing FTP connections on the local machine.
  • Users who do not have much knowledge about the interface can delete the data knowingly or unknowingly.
  • It cannot track what has been uploaded to the remote system.

What is SMB?

SMB is an acronym for Server Message Block, is a network protocol used by Windows-based computers and allows systems within the same network to share files.

The main advantage of SMB is that it allows computers connected to the same network to access files easily from other local computers like they were on the computer’s local drive.

SMB also allows computers to share printers and serial ports from other computers within the given network. For example, if you want to print a document from one computer and the printer is connected to another, you can print a document easily if both systems support the SMB protocol.

Although SMB was initially only available for Windows, it can now be used by other platforms like Unix and macOS with a software implementation known as Samba. With Samba instructions operating systems like macOS, Windows, and Unix computers can share files, folders, and printers.

How does the SMB Server Work?

SMB is a client-server communication protocol allowing you to transfer multiple messages between the client and the server.

In the above image, the client requests the server for its needs, and the server responds to the request. This SMB server makes the file systems and other services like files, folders, and printers available to the client on the network.

Features of SMB

With every update in the SMB, the performance level keeps increasing. Here are some of the features of using the SMB protocol:

  • It provides an intercommunication process framework to share files and resources within the server.
  • SMB allows clients to edit, delete, and share files. Not only that, but it also allows you to browse the network and print over the network.
  • SMB version 2 has reduced the usage of commands and subcommands to transfer files over the network.
  • SMB2 comes with symbolic links making it better than SMB version 1.

What is the advantage of SMB over FTP?​

  • SMB is easy to use, and different operating devices use SMB with less effort.
  • It is used to share resources and files. So if the client wants to use printers connected to the SMB server but not the client, the client can use the SMB server and connect to the printer.
  • SMB also works with file systems, printers, mail slots, and APIs.

Disadvantages of SMB

The only drawback is that SMBs should not be used across the web or the internet. It can run on hosts connected to the LAN. Since SMB is prone to cyberattacks, it runs on LAN, as it reduces the risk of cyberattacks. Reduced.

SMB vs FTP head-to-head Comparison

Now that you know what FTP and SMB are and their features, advantages, and disadvantages, it’s time to compare FTP vs SMB. Here in this section, we have mentioned the difference between the two:

Definition FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. The main aim of FTP is to transfer files from one connection to another. Additionally, it also allows you to create and delete files and directories.SMB is a client-server communication protocol that helps share and access files, printers, serial ports, and other resources. It helps in interprocess communication.
Port Number FTP uses 2 ports- 20 and 21. It uses port 20 to establish a connection and port 21 to connect and transfer files.SMB uses either port 139 or port 445.
Number of connection FTP has two connections; the control connection and the data transfer.Since SMB allows multichannel sessions, the maximum number of connections allowed is 32.
Remote Login Remote login is not mandatory in FTP.Remote login is required for SMB.


Here in this post, we discussed the difference between FTP and SMB. Let us recap:

Also, we discussed their advantages over each other, their features, and their work. We also get important information about when to use FTP protocol or when to use SMB protocol and which one is better for your use.

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