FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard network protocol used for transferring files between a client and a server on a computer network. It uses a client-server model in which the client connects to the server to perform file transfers. The protocol is widely used for website maintenance, uploading and downloading files, and transferring files between computers.

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How does FTP work?

FTP, works by establishing a connection between two computers, a client and a server, through a network. The client sends a request to the server to download or upload files, and the server responds by granting or denying permission. FTP uses two channels to transfer data: a command channel for exchanging commands and responses, and a data channel for transferring the actual files. The data channel can be either active or passive, determined by the server configuration. During the active mode, the client opens a port and listens for the server to connect, while in the passive mode, the server opens a port and waits for the client to connect. It also uses a set of standard commands to interact between the client and the server, such as CD to change the remote directory, LS to list the contents of the directory, and GET to download a file.

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FTP communication modes

FTP has two communication modes: active and passive. In the active mode, the client initiates a connection to the server and specifies a port number to which the server should send the data. In the passive mode, the client opens the connection, but the server controls the data transfer process by selecting a port number and notifying the client. Passive mode is often used when the client is behind a firewall or NAT device.

FTP security protocols

FTP supports various security protocols to protect user credentials and data during file transfers. Secure FTP (SFTP) encrypts both the data and the credentials exchanged between the client and server, providing a high level of security. FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) uses SSL/TLS encryption on the control and data channels, providing protection against eavesdropping and tampering. However, plain FTP transfers do not offer any encryption, making it vulnerable to security threats.

FTP alternatives

FTP has been widely used for decades, but it has its limitations. For example, it requires a lot of network resources and time to transfer large files. Additionally, since it doesn't encrypt data in transit, it's not a secure choice for transferring sensitive data. As a result, many alternative protocols and tools have been developed to address these limitations. Some popular FTP alternatives include SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), SCP (Secure Copy), and HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure). Each protocol has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to evaluate your specific use case before choosing a file transfer solution.

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