FTP vs TFTP: Difference and Comparison

These systems need to be connected to an IP-based network. Both the term FTP and TFTP are confused with one another due to their somewhat similar abbreviations.

Key Takeaways

  1. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) ensures secure and reliable file transfers, whereas Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) prioritizes speed and simplicity.
  2. FTP uses a login system for authentication, while TFTP lacks built-in security features.
  3. FTP operates in active and passive modes, while TFTP employs only one mode for file transfers.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol) refers to the transferring of files from one computer to another remote computer in the form of plain text. TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) is used to transfer small files over a network. Because of its simplicity, it offers only limited functionality.


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The full form of FTP is File Transfer Protocol. This standard application protocol transfers or copies a file between two hosts. It works on two ports – 20, which is for data, and 21, which is for connection control.

The full form of TFTP is Trivial File Transfer Protocol. The protocol transfers a file from a host to a client and vice versa. This is done without the use of the FTP feature.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFTPTFTP
Full-FormFTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.TFTP stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol.
SizeThe software of FTP is large in size.The software of TFTP is small in size.
PortsIt works on two ports – 20 and 21.It only works on the 69 Port number.
Service ProviderThe service provider for FTP is TCP.The service provider for TFTP is UDP.
CommandsFTP has more commands than TFTP.TFTP has only five commands.
ComplexityFTP is very complex.TFTP is not as complex as FTP.
SecurityFTP provides a secure channel for file transfer.TFTP does not require authenticated login and thus poses a security risk.
UsesFTP is useful for uploading and downloading files by remote users.TFTP is useful for configuration transfer between network devices.

What is FTP?

FTP is a standard application protocol that is used for communication on a computer network. This involves transferring files from a host to a client and vice versa.

The software also frequently encrypts itself with FTPS or replaces SSH File Transfer Protocol. This removes all kinds of security threats and minimizes the risk of security breaches. 

Originally, the specification for FTP was written by Abhay Bhushan. It was published on 16 April 1971 as RFC 114. For many years, the software ran on NCP.

Now, FTP can run in active or passive mode. This determines how the connection between two hosts will be established. The host creates a control connection between two ports by carrying out either of the two kinds of processes.

What is TFTP?

TFTP is a simple communication protocol that allows the transfer of files to and from random hosts and clients. It is very useful when a node is being booted from a local area network.

TFTP can also be used to transfer firmware images and configuration files to various network appliances. These include firewalls, IP phones, routers, and much more.

The design of TFTP was derived from EFTP, which was an earlier protocol. It was even a part of the PARC Universal Packet protocol suite. The software came to be defined only in 1980.

However, a limitation of using TFTP is that it poses certain security risks. The software does not have a username and password; thus, it requires no authentication for login.

Main Differences Between FTP and TFTP

  1. FTP provides a secure channel for file transfers, whereas TFTP does not.
  2. FTP is useful for uploading and downloading files by remote users, whereas TFTP is useful for configuration transfer between network devices.
  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-0-387-74390-5_3.pdf
  2. https://www.ieice.org/ken/paper/20050527wAEn/eng/

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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