FTP vs TELNET: Difference and Comparison

While TELNET or the Telecommunication Network is responsible for providing client user access to remote servers, it helps clients manage their resources stored on remote servers.


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Although both FTP and TELNET are renowned IP protocols, their seminal difference lies in the functionality each provides.

Key Takeaways

  1. FTP and Telnet are networking protocols for file transfer and remote login, respectively.
  2. FTP is used for transferring files between computers over a network.
  3. Telnet is used for remote login to a computer or device over a network.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol) refers to transferring files from one computer to another remote computer in plain text. TELNET (Telecommunication Network) is a protocol used to access the remote computer. The user can execute commands on remote computers using TELNET.


File Transfer Protocol or FTP is an application layer protocol used to ease the process of transmitting files from one operating system to another. It also provides limited features for handling existing data directories.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFTPTELNET
FunctionalityFTP is a connectivity protocol to transfer files from one system to another.TELNET is a client’s connectivity protocol to access the data stored on a remote server.
Full FormsThe full form of FTP is File Transfer Protocol.The full form of TELNET is Telecommunication Network.
Port NumberThe commonly used port numbers for FTP are 20 and 21.The commonly used port number for TELNET is 23.
Number of Connections EstablishedFTP operates by establishing two simultaneous connections. One connection is for the command controls, and the other is to facilitate the file transfer.TELNET operates by establishing only a single connection.
Security of ConnectionThe connection established by FTP is safer than the one established by TELNET.The connection established by TELNET is unsecured.
Remote LoginRemote logins are not mandatory to avail of FTP facilities.Remote logins are mandatory for the operation of TELNET.
PopularityFTP is a popular tool used for uploading and downloading web files.TELNET has become more or less outdated, and its usage is now limited as a web diagnostic tool.

What is FTP?

FTP is the commonly used abbreviation for File Transfer Protocols to transfer files from one computer to another. It can be used to upload and download files to and from the connected systems.

FTP is used through a TCP connection.

The efficiency of FTP is enhanced by its ability to establish dual simultaneous connections.

One connection is dedicated to the effective control of commands- that remains open throughout the transfer process- while the other is used to transfer the file.

FTP also has the benefit of allowing multiple client users to access its servers simultaneously.

Some hiccups may be encountered while transferring files from the client to the server systems.

These may be caused due to the differences in directory structures of the two systems, the file name conventions, etc. Moreover, both systems’ text and data structure may also be different, causing further issues.


What is TELNET?

TELNET, or Telecommunication Network, is a connectivity protocol providing clients with virtual terminal services. TELNET connects a client’s computer with a remote server to use the data stored on such servers.

TELNET establishes a single connection between the client and the remote server. It links the keyboard of the client user’s operating system with that of the remote computer.

This creates the illusion of being connected to the remote system. The keystrokes of the client’s system automatically get transferred to the remote system.

The NVT or Network Virtual Terminal is a universal interface created by TELNET to ease this process of establishing connectivity.

All characters inputted by the client software are converted into NVT-approved forms and transmitted to the remote server. The same process is followed to relay the response from the server to the client.


Main Differences Between FTP and TELNET

  1. The main difference between FTP and TELNET is the functionality each offers. While FTP is renowned for its ability to facilitate the transference of a file from one operating system to the other, TELNET is known and used for its ability to create admission channels for users to access remote servers.
  2. The full form of each of the terms is also different. While FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, TELNET stands for Telecommunication Network. Each of these abbreviations highlights the core functions of these protocols.
  3. FTP is considered to be a safer protocol of transmission than TELNET. There may arise some security concerns while using TELNET.
  4. FTP operates on two connections. It establishes one of these connections to control commands effectively, and the second connection is established to transfer the given file. Conversely, TELNET operates on only one established connection because it has a single operation port.
  5. The port number for FTP and TELNET also vary. The port number is 20 and 21 for the former, while for the latter, it is 23.
  6. Remote login may not be a prerequisite for accessing FTP functionalities, whereas remote login is essential to use the TELNET connectivity protocols. Unless such remote logins are secured, TELNET commands cannot be issued.
  7. TELNET’s applicability has been minimized significantly in the current times. Its usage is mainly limited to diagnostic purposes today. On the other hand, FTP is used widely as a protocol to upload files to and download files from the web.  
Difference Between FTP and TELNET
  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-1-4020-7870-5_83.pdf
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