FTP vs TFTP: Understand the difference

Rashmi Bhardwaj | Blog,Protocol

Introduction to File Transfer Protocols

FTP and TFTP are both file transfer protocols used to transfer data amongst systems over TCP/IP network. TFTP and FTP both send data in clear text and are widely used protocols accepted by the industry. FTP and TFTP protocols both are insecure protocols and hence are preferred when either sharing non-sensitive information over an unsecured public network or when in a secured environment like company management network.

Similarities b/w FTP & TFTP

To summarize, the similarities between the file transfer protocols are:

  • Both are used to transfer data over TCP/IP network
  • Both send data in clear text
  • Both are insecure protocols

Now, as we are aware of the similarities between the two transfer protocols, let’s understand the points which differentiate them.


Difference b/w TFTP & FTP

TFTP and FTP differs on the basis of below given characteristics:

  • FTP or File Transfer Protocol uses TCP port numbers 20 & 21, whereas the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) uses UDP port number 69.
  • B0th differ in the usage of transfer layer protocol. FTP uses TCP, whereas TFTP uses UDP transport layer protocol.
  • While FTP supports the user authentication, TFTP does not support user authentication.
  • While FTP uses robust control commands, the commands are simpler in TFTP.
  • The memory requirement and programming effort is more in FTP as compared to TFTP.
  • FTP is used by remote users to download & upload files. TFTP is used to transfer configurations to/from the network devices.
  • FTP sends data over a separate TCP connection, while TFTP does not use any connection as UDP is connectionless protocol.


Comparison Table: FTP vs TFTP

Below table summarizes the differences between the two:



Full form – File Transfer protocolFull form – Trivial File Transfer protocol
Uses TCP port numbers 20 and 21.Uses UDP port number 69.
Uses TCP as transport layer protocol.Uses UDP as transport layer protocol.
Supports authenticationdoesn’t support user authentication
Uses robust control commands.Uses simple control commands.
Sends data over a separate TCP connection from control commands.Uses no connections since UDP is connectionless protocol.
Requires more memory and programming effort.Requires less memory and programming effort.
Specified in RFC959 document.Specified in RFC783 document.
Mostly used by remote users to upload and download filesMostly used to transfer configurations to and from network devices.

Download the comparison table: FTP vs TFTP

Continue Reading:


FTPS vs SFTP : Know the difference


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