​FTP vs HTTP – differences

Have you ever thought about the differences between FTP vs HTTP, and why do we use HTTP for the World Wide Web? Now you will have your answer. 

​What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it is a protocol that allows file transfer between two different hosts (devices) using the TCP/IP protocol. It is using the client-server model, where one of the hosts is called a remote host (server) and needs FTP software to be a server, and the other is called a local host (client) with FTP client’s software. Both of them need to be connected and configure to use the FTP protocol for communication.

​FTP is used for:

  • Downloading some files over the Internet.
  • Downloading or uploading files on a web hosting.
  • Other types of communication.

​What is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it is a protocol that we use on the Internet (World Wide Web) for loading pages through hyperlinks. It also uses the same client-server model as the FTP, where a client sends a request and the server answer with the requested content or action. The most common HTTP requests are GET, to get a particular resource, and POST, which indicates to post the text or file.

​HTTP is used for:

  • Navigating the Internet.
  • Downloading or posting on the Internet.
  • Communication between client and server.
  • Communication between servers.

​FTP vs HTTP comparison

Let’s get into the details, how similar and how different FTP vs HTTP are. You will be surprised how much in common the two network protocols have.

  • Both FTP and HTTP are network protocols.
  • Both FTP and HTTP have their secure versions that use data encryption – FTPS and HTTPS.
  • Both FTP and HTTP are still used on the Internet.
  • Both FTP and HTTP can be used for file transfer on the Internet.
  • Both FTP and HTTP use the TCP protocol but different ports.
  • Common ports for FTP are port 20 and port 21, while HTTP uses port 80 and port 8080.
  • FTP is for file transfer from a remote host after a connection is established, and HTTP is for web browsing after a connection is established.
  • FTP is usually slower than HTTP because HTTP can download a file in chunks and speed up the transfer. Also, the FTP needs to re-establish the connection between each file if there are multiple files, and that will cost extra time.
  • FTP can be used via a program, user interface, or a command-line interface, while HTTP is used through a web browser application.
  • FTP requires authentication (user name and password), while HTTP does not require authentication.
  • HTTP supports sending and receiving multiple files, while FTP does not support multiple files simultaneously.
  • HTTP provides metadata, and FTP does not.
  • FTP uses two connections at a time, while HTTP uses only one.
  • HTTP uses persistent connection (keep the connection going) for a longer time and multiple files, while the FTP needs to start and finish a new connection per each file.
  • Both FTP and HTTP support IPv6.

​Conclusion.

Both FTP and HTTP have a lot of similarities. They are still in use, and they have their secured versions. But, the biggest difference between them is their purpose. FTP is very limited and servers only for file transfer, while HTTP and its work make it irreplaceable for web browsing.