Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
FTP cloud

Short for file transfer protocol, FTP is the most common way of sending and receiving files between two computers. An example of FTP usage is by web developers who connect to their web server using an FTP client or FTP program (e.g., FileZilla) to send (upload) updated versions of a web page.


FTP should not be confused with FTTP (fiber to the premises).

FTP login and security

Although many FTP servers require logins, many FTP servers also allow anonymous FTP login, which only requires a username and e-mail with no password. It is also important to realize that FTP is insecure. When your username and password are sent to the server, they're both sent as plaintext and could be intercepted and read. If your server supports SFTP or FTP with TLS (transport layer security) encryption, we suggest using one of them instead of plain FTP to help keep your information private.

Why do people still use FTP?

FTP is popular for sharing files between computers, especially for automated tasks. For example, you could create a script that automatically uploads the new pictures it detects on a computer to a server. Also, FTP is used with websites that need HTML (hypertext markup language) files and pictures uploaded and don't use a CMS (content management system), like WordPress, or CVS (Concurrent Version System), like GitHub.

What port is FTP?

FTP uses network ports 20 and 21. The list below contains ports used by other types of FTP.

  • BFTP uses port 152.
  • FTP over TSL/SSL uses ports 989 and 990.
  • FTPS (file transfer protocol secure) uses port 21 for explicit connection and port 990 if implicit connection.
  • NI FTP uses port 47.
  • RSFTP uses port 26.
  • SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) uses port 115.
  • TFTP (trivial file transfer protocol) uses port 69.

FTP history

FTP was first proposed on April 16, 1971 by Abhay Bhushan and developed for implementation on hosts at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). FTP was later defined by RFC 959 that was published in October 1985.

Computer acronyms, F2P, File transfer, FileZilla, FSP, HTTP, Internet terms, Network terms, Port, Protocol, SFTP, TFTP, TLA, Web design terms