File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used for transferring files between a client and a server over a computer network. Developed in the early days of the internet, FTP enables users to upload, download, and manage files on remote servers, making it a fundamental tool for web development and data sharing. Despite the emergence of other more secure alternatives, FTP remains widely used due to its simplicity and efficiency in handling file transfers.

FTP was initially defined in 1971 by Abhay Bhushan in RFC 114, making it one of the earliest protocols to facilitate file sharing over ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet. It underwent several revisions, with significant updates provided in RFC 765 (1980) and RFC 959 (1985), which standardized the protocol. The original design of FTP did not include robust security features, reflecting the more trusting environment of early networked systems. As security concerns grew, extensions like FTPS (FTP Secure) and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) were developed to address these issues.

Some of the use cases of FTP include:

  • Website Management: Web developers and administrators use FTP to upload and download website files, update content, and manage website directories on remote servers.

  • File Sharing: Organizations and individuals use FTP servers to share large files and datasets that are impractical to send via email.

  • Backup and Recovery: FTP is commonly employed for backing up critical data to remote servers, providing an additional layer of data security and recovery options.

  • Software Distribution: Software developers and vendors distribute large software packages, updates, and patches via FTP servers due to its ability to handle large volumes of data efficiently.

  • Remote File Management: System administrators manage files on remote servers, including configuration files, logs, and user data, using FTP clients.