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Difference between File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

Last Updated : 21 Feb, 2023
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FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

 It is a protocol that is used to transfer or copy the file from one host to another host. But there may be some problems like different file names and different file directories while sending and receiving a files in different hosts or systems. And in FTP, a secure channel is not provided to transfer the files between the hosts or systems. It is used in port no-21. 

 FTP is used for transferring of web pages and used for downloading the files from other different servers. Basically, it is used for transferring the files from one system to another system more reliably and efficiently.


  • Speedy data transfer
  • Transfer multiple files and directories 
  • Multitasking (transferring and downloading can go in parallel)
  • Continuous Transfer i.e. transfers can be resumed from a given point
  • Many FTP clients have scripting features.


  • Few FTP providers do not offer encryption
  • Possibility of Eavesdropping because of the plain text used for sensitive information such as password, etc.
  • When sending files via FTP, compliance can be a problem.

SFTP(Secure File Transfer Protocol)

It is a protocol that provides a secure channel, to transfer or copy the file from one host to another host or system. SFTP establishes the control connection under SSH protocol and It is used in port no-22. 

Basically, it is a protocol for transferring large files over the web. It could handle sensitive data securely in all situations. So, a user who has a business can successfully transmit files containing secret information by using SFTP.


  • Encryption
  • Host Authentication
  • Compliance
  • Only one connection is used as DATA connection is not required in SFTP.


  • SSH keys are difficult to maintain and verify.
  • Difficult to login because communication is binary.
  • The standards categorize some elements as optional or recommended, which causes some incompatibilities between software products from various vendors.
  • Slow speed
  • Communication is not human-readable as it is in binary form.

There are some differences between them which are given below: 

It stands for File Transfer Protocol. It stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol.
It was developed by Abhay Bhushan and published as RFC in the year 1971.  Sami Lehtinen assisted the Tatu Ylönen in the development of SFTP in the year 1997. 
In FTP, secure channel is not provided to transfer the files between the hosts. In SFTP, a secure channel is provided to transfer the files between the hosts.
It is a part of the TCP/IP protocol. It is a SSH protocol.
It usually runs on port no-21. It runs on port no-22.
It establishes the connection under TCP protocol. It establishes the control connection under SSH protocol.
It does not encrypt the data before sending. It encrypted data before sending.
It works on direct method for file transfer. It works on tunneling method for transferring of files.
It makes uploading and downloading of files without any security. It maintains full security of the data by using SSH keys.
It uses two channels. While; SFTP uses only one channel.
It doesn’t require any authentication. While in SFTP, the user needs to authenticate the FTP client with a username and password or SSH keys.
FTP is faster. It is slower compared to FTP.
The direct transfer method is used to transfer the data in FTP. The tunneling method is used to transfer the data in SFTP.

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