Difference Between FTP vs SFTP

Difference Between FTP vs SFTP

If you are confused between FTP and SFTP, then you are at the right place. FTP client is the easiest way to connect to a website’s server to transfer and manage data files. However, when you are configuring your FTP client, you will see that it supports both FTP and SFTP.

Now that the FTP client supports both FTP and SFTP, the next question that might come to your mind is the difference between FTP and SFTP and which one is the best?

Answering the question, SFTP is more secure than FTP. Wondering why? Here in this post, we have mentioned the difference between FTP and SFTP in detail. So let us get started.

What is FTP?

FTP is also known as File Transfer Protocol. It is an internet service that establishes a connection to the server. Therefore with an FTP server, people can transfer files or data to their computer or the FTP server itself.

The FTP protocol comes with commands that allow you to execute operations on any computer. FTP allows you to change directories, create and delete data files.

Additionally, FTP is built on a client-server framework and allows you to create a data connection between the client and the server applications. Additionally, FTP helps to solve the issues in the host configuration.

What is SFTP?

SFTP or SSH File Transfer Protocol is a part of the SSH protocol. SFTP allows you to transfer data files over SSH securely and allows you to access the shell accounts on the SFTP server.

SSH is a protocol used to access a machine over untrusted networks securely. It is an alternative for Telnet, rsh, and rlogin. SFTP verifies the identity of the client-server and then exchanges the information when a secured connection is established.

Features of FTP

  • Allows you to resume automatically.
  • FTP is a user interface that shows both local and remote files.
  • Lets you monitor the FTP file transfers.
  • Allows you to create, upload and save multiple FTP sessions at once.
  • Since FTP uses a client-server environment, it means your computer is configured according to the server.
  • It allows you to create and delete data, list, delete, and rename files.

Features of SFTP

  • The data transmission is secured and file size can be compressed easily.
  • Support for TMUX and screen sessions.
  • Implements the SSH3 protocol.
  • You can execute commands over the SSH channel.
  • Supports IPV6 HTTP protocols.
  • Allows you to add passwords and public-key authentication.
  • Offers interactive keyboard authentication.
  • Supports custom channels.

Advantages of FTP

  • The directory listing is uniform and easily readable.
  • File transfer can be resumed and scheduled.
  • There is no size limit on the file transfers.
  • FTP allows you to fix owners and add access restrictions.
  • It allows you to hide information on your computer.
  • Offers scripting capabilities.
  • FTP clients allow you to transfer multiple files.

Advantages of SFTP

  • FTP offers added security to the users.
  • Uninformed TCP/IP ports can be redirected via encrypted channels.
  • The SFTP protocol runs on a secure and password-protected channel.

Disadvantages of FTP

  • It is very difficult to filter an active FTP connection.
  • Anyone can spoof the FTP server to send data to any random or unknown port on any unauthorized computer.
  • Hard to script jobs using the FTP.
  • FTP is not the most secure way to transfer data.
  • You might face issues in compliance when you use FTP to share files.

Disadvantages of SFTP

  • The client-server communication is binary and is not registered.
  • It is very difficult to manage and validate SSH keys.
  • Since some of the things in the SFTP server are optional or recommended, this can lead to compatibility problems between software and vendors.

Difference Between FTP and SFTP

Now that you know the benefits, advantages, and disadvantages of FTP and SFTP. Here in this table, we discuss FTP vs SFTP:

Founder FTP was developed by Abhay Bhushan in 1971. Tatu Ylönen and Sami Lehtinen developed SFTP in 1997.
Full-Form File Transfer Protocol. Secure File Transfer Protocol.
Basic FTP does not offer a secure network to transfer data files between different hosts. SFTP offers a secure network to transfer data files between different hosts.
Encryption Users can access the data anonymously and it is not encrypted. SFTP encrypts the data before it is sent to another host.
Architecture used Client and server framework SSH
Commonly used Yes No
Transfer method Transfers data directly Tunneling
Inbound Port Allows inbound transfer on Port 21. Allows inbound transfer on Port 22.
Outbound port Allows outbound transfer on Port 21. Allows outbound transfer on port 22.
Protocols TCP/IP protocol SSH protocol
Number of channels used 2 1


Here in this article, we have mentioned the differences between FTP and SFTP in detail. Let us recap:

  1. FTP does not offer a secure channel to transfer files between hosts. On the other hand, SFTP offers a secure channel for transferring files between the hosts.
  2. FTP uses 2 channels to transfer the data and SFTP uses one channel for transferring the data.
  3. FTP is not encrypted. On the other hand, SFTP provides encryption when transferring the data.
  4. FTP uses the client-server framework and SFTP uses the SSH framework.
  5. FTP uses the direct transfer method while SFTP uses tunneling to transfer data.


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