What is FTP?

FTP, also known as File Transfer Protocol, is a network protocol for transferring files – images, text, software, and others over a computer network. 

With FTP, files are better managed and more secure when it comes to transferring files. FTP uses a client-server model, which means that files can be moved from an FTP client to a server where they are needed. 

The FTP file transfer process is secured with SSL/TLS, and in more advanced cases, it is replaced with SFTP, which provides an extra layer of security known as Secured Shell or SSH.

History of FTP

The First Generation FTP standard was developed between the years 1971 and 1980. The first FTP standard in 1971 was published by RFC 114. Between 1971 and 1980, Standards RFC 172, 256, 354 were published, and the basic FTP commands were defined. 

The second Generation FTP standard was published between 1985 and 1997. With these standards, password authentication and firewall-friendly transfers were defined.

The third-generation standards, a new solution known as Managed File Transfer or MFT, was introduced. The MFT solution serves as a replacement for the basic FTP server. It also supports the FTP and SFTP protocols.

Before we understand how FTP works, it is essential to know what an FTP client and server are.

What is an FTP Client?

An FTP client is an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that helps to facilitate and simplify the file transfer process. 

An FTP client needs to be installed on your computer, and some clients can only be used with a live connection to the Internet.

An FTP client interface is divided into two. A  left panel shows files on your computer and, a right panel displays files on the remote server.

What is an FTP Server?

The FTP server is where the transferred files get uploaded from or downloaded to. FTP servers also serve as the middleman between the sender and the recipient of a file. 


Some of the benefits of an FTP server include:

  • Data Recovery: This comes in handy because of open files during the file transfer process. An FTP server provides a secure storehouse for your data and keeps it safe even when trouble strikes.
  • Large File Transfer: This is useful for organizations that process large files and data. FTP servers ensure that the transfer of large files is an uninterrupted and hassle-free process
  • Increased Level of control: FTP servers give a level of control such that the access to specific files is limited to certain users, given it an added level of security.

 How FTP works

FTP works by establishing a connection using two distinct communication channels known as the command and data channel. The command channel initiates the instruction and response while the data channel takes care of the data distribution.

With the command channel, an authorized user will use the protocol to request to get or transfer a file from the server, and The server would grant this request in return. This is known as the active connection mode. 

With a passive connection mode, the server listens instead of establishing a connection with the user. In this passive mode, the user uses both the command and data channel.

Need Support?

FTP is an excellent means of transferring multiple directories at a time. While there are several FTP clients available for free download, we recommend the use of Filezilla

If you’d like to know how to set up your FTP connection, we’ve got you covered. We have an article that talks about setting up an FTP connection using Filezilla, so be sure to check it out.

Was this helpful?

What’s your goal today?

1. Find the right Managed VPS solution

If you’re looking for industry-leading speed, ease of use and reliability Try ScalaHosting with an unconditional money-back guarantee.

2. Make your website lighting fast

We guarantee to make your WordPress site load in less than 2 seconds on a managed VPS with ScalaHosting or give your money back. Fill out the form, and we’ll be in touch.

Please enter a valid name
Please enter a valid website
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

3. Streamline your clients’ hosting experience

If you’re a web studio or development agency hosting more than 30 websites, schedule a call with Vlad, our co-founder and CTO, and see how we can deliver unmatched value to both your business and your clients.


Need a custom cluster or professional advice?

Book a meeting and get a free 30-minute consultation with Vlad, co-founder & CTO of Scala Hosting, who will help you select, design and build the right solution - from a single data center cluster to a multi-region & multi-datacenter high availability cluster with hundreds of servers.

Book a free consultation

4. Learn how to grow your website in 2024

An all-star team of SEO and web influencers are sharing their secret knowledge for the first time in years. Learn about the future of SEO, Web Design best practices and the secrets to getting the foundation for your website to thrive. Watch the exclusive webinar.

An Exclusive Insiders Look Behind The SEO and Web Development Curtain


Working in the web hosting industry for over 13 years, Rado has inevitably got some insight into the industry. A digital marketer by education, Rado is always putting himself in the client's shoes, trying to see what's best for THEM first. A man of the fine detail, you can often find him spending 10+ minutes wondering over a missing comma or slightly skewed design.