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What is Anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol)?

Last Updated : 24 Nov, 2021
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AFTP (Anonymous File Transfer Protocol) is a network protocol used for transmitting files using TCP-based networks. Anonymous file transfer protocol lets a user move files anonymously from one computer to another.

Anonymous FTP operates at layer 7; anonymous FTP permits anonymous external computer users without any designated password or user ID to access the FTP server i.e., When a user accesses a file, they don’t need to identify themselves. Hence, all the data contained within a website that allows Anonymous FTP should be considered publicly accessible.

In general, whenever a user visits an Anonymous file transfer protocol site, it’ll not be impelled to provide a username or password. Though sometimes it may ask to provide username and password and in that case, the user can supply the word ftp or anonymous for their username and they can supply whatever they want for the password. To fetch any file, the user must know the pathname of the file and to which host it belongs.

AFTP Session:

AFTP is an FTP session in which a user logs into a remote server. To start a session, a user needs to use the “ftp” command and the hostname/IP. All the FTP program responses at the archive site are preceded by a number called reply codes.

Generally, a user will have to follow the commands given below with almost every FTP program.

  • The user needs to Log in to the localhost and invoke the FTP program.
  • Then open a connection to the host.
  • After the connection is established to the remote host, the user needs to log in with the username “anonymous”.
  • After supplying the username, the user needs to provide the password.
  • After supplying the password, supply whatever FTP commands are required by the user.
  • And finally, after it’s finished, exit the FTP program, which will close the connection. ftp
Connected to
220 FTP server (Sat Nov 6 13:10:12 IST 2021) ready.
Name ( allen): anonymous
331 Guest login ok, enter your email address as the password.
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
ftp> cd files/atl/ar5
250 Please read the file readfile.txt
250 it was last modified on Wed Oct 13 12:48:50 2021 – 23 days ago  
250 CWD command successful.
ftp> binary
200 Type set to I.
ftp> get ar5-bc-3.4.h.txt
200 PORT command successful.
150 opening ASCII mode data connection for ar5-bc-3.4.h.txt (159873 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: ar5-bc-3.4.h.txt remote: ar5-bc-3.4.h.txt
167925 bytes received in 0.6 seconds (2.7e+02 Kbytes/s)
ftp> quit
221 Goodbye

Advantages of Anonymous FTP:

  • It doesn’t need any authentication.
  • It allows fast access to public archives without any web server processes.
  • Not only AFTP can transfer more than one file but, it also allows the transfer of multiple directories at the same time.

Disadvantages of Anonymous FTP:

  • It is not completely anonymous.
  • Less control over who is accessing your FTP server as it is completely public.
  • It can compromise the whole system if not used properly. i.e., extra security steps are needed to prevent any exploits.

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