FTP Meaning explained: What File Transfer Protocol means?

FTP meaning is File Transfer Protocol (RFC 959). It’s an internet TCP protocol, used to transfer files between one client computer to a server. Widely used to publish websites, transfer images, backups or any kind of files.

This protocol was initially developed in the 70s by Abhay Bhushan, who was a student of MIT. It was first created with the objective of transferring files between servers and hosts at ARPANET Network. ARPANET, after some years, originated the internet. In other words, the Internet is an evolution of this network.

How FTP works

First, an FTP server is like a store. The store attends to clients, and give and receive files for them. An FTP Client is like a customer. One customer can enter a store and negotiate files.

The first step is configuring your client, placing the host, login, password of the Server. This protocol typically used TCP port 21 for communication.

After configuring the credentials, client and server will connect and make a “handshake”, where they confirm the connection. The Client can list files, get files or put files.

An FTP server can be either authenticated, with a username and password, or anonymous. In the anonymous ftp, you don’t need a login to enter.

There are many free and anonymous FTP hosts available. For example, Linux distros are usually provided through public FTP hosts. You can access those via a web browser.

Ftp meaning: What is SFTP

A similar protocol, but different, is SFTP. This is a Secure Shell (SSH file transfer protocol) based protocol. It’s based on an encrypted connection, protecting both the client and server from data theft. As a conclusion, this is a big advantage.

To work, it requires an SSH server, which is different from a standard FTP Server.

Finally, it’s important to differ SFTP and FTP meaning. SFTP is not really an FTP protocol, as we explained. SFTP is, in fact, the SSH protocol, visually adapted to a file manager screen. Just like an FTP Client, but in a safe channel.

Meaning of FTP Clients

In order to access an FTP server, you must choose an FTP client. Then, simply type the FTP host, username and password. Usually, the FTP port is 21. Some servers can work in different ports.

With an FTP Client, the user can upload or download files to a server. This is a simple software that you can install in your PC. Then, you must place the server hostname, login, and password and click Connect. Afterward, you are ready to send and receive files from the server.

There are many nice and free FTP clients available for Windows. There are also Web FTP Clients like cPanel.

FileZilla is a complete and robust software. It’s a free GPL software.

ftp meaning

CoffeeCup Free FTP is also a nice option. It’s free as well.

FTP Commands

Basically, the client FTP application will connect to the FTP server. Then, it will authenticate. The protocol uses command lines to send commands to the server. There are several commands that the FTP client uses to talk to the server. The most common are:

PORT command which specifies the server IP address and port to connect.

AUTH and PASS commands, to authenticate the username and password at the beginning of the connection.

LIST, to list the files and directories inside the current folder.

STOR is the command to send a file. It asks the server to store a file on it, and then, performs the file transfer.

RETR is used to download a file. It will retrieve a copy of the file to the local computer.


A Brief History of FTP Protocol

Abhay Bhushan designed, in the 1970s, the file transfer protocol FTP to transfer files between computers in an internetwork. Alongside the first network applications, it allowed users to have different tasks. It defined the basic commands and formal means which computers communicated. Two different kinds of access existed: direct and indirect. The first accessed files from a distance as if they were local. It created the idea of no distance. While the later gets files from a remote host, and use it locally. They were the first formal versions of the TCP/IP applications. FTP granted indirect access, and Telnet for direct access on remote hosts. The FTP access files in another computer to use it as a local file, and then it can transfer it back to its source.

The first version, released in 1971, was RFC 114. An early version of what would become TCP, called Network Control Protocol, or NCP, was the mean used for network traffic. By then, no internet existed, and a predecessor of it was still small, consisting of a few computers used for development.

Following that, several iterations of the refining of the protocol came to be. In July 1972, RFC 354 was published, and with it, the major changes in the protocol. Some of those changes described the model of communication used by the modern TCP, and some of the features of the protocol currently in use. By August of 1973, with the release of RCF 542, the protocol was already very similar to what is in use today. Besides, it ran over an NCP network.

The TCP/IP Era

In June 1980, The RCF 765 was published. It ran over a TCP/IP for the first time. Alongside it, some defining standards for TCP/IP were also published.

The RCF 959, File Transfer Protocol was published in 1985. It made several changes to the 1980 RCF 765. It added several new commands and is the base of our modern FTP protocols nowadays. Since then, releases added other features but mostly revising the area of security.

On February 1994 RCF 1579 allows a Firewall-friendly RTP. Later, on September 1998, the RCF 2428 revision allows it to run over IPv6.



When we ask what does FTP means, we have to explain its literal meaning, which is File Transfer Protocol. It’s good always to explain a brief of its history. Basically, the FTP protocol is based on commands. So, the client FTP talks to the server FTP site using these commands. The FTP clients have a good looking interface, to make things easier for the end-user. FTP is one of the most popular internet protocol nowadays. It’s simply the industry standard to transfer files to web hosting servers.



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