Difference between FTP and SMTP

Your web browser and the servers that run the websites you visit both make use of specific protocols and networks in order to provide you the information that you are looking for on the Internet. The movement of files over the Internet can be accomplished via one of three primary file transfer protocols − HTTP, SMTP, and FTP.

In this article, we will discuss in detail about FTP and SMTP and highlight how these two protocols are different from each other.

What is FTP?

The term "File Transfer Protocol" refers to the method that personal computers employ in order to transmit files over the Internet. A user who is the recipient of the files will be granted a unique set of rights, which may include the ability to open the file, make changes to it, send it back, or forward it. All of these permissions are set by the sender, who also has the ability to adjust them according to the needs of their organization.

FTP is an extremely important tool for web developers because it is used to keep the content of websites up to date. Transferring a significant quantity of files quickly is a requirement for website hosting. FTP is the method that is both the safest and the quickest when it comes to sending large files over the Internet.

For FTP to function properly, there must first be a setup in both the connection and the communicator. Users need to have authorization, which can be obtained by supplying credentials to the FTP server. Only then can they create these two parties.

FTP is both transmitted and received through port 21, and the TCP protocol is used to facilitate the transfer of files between computers. Additionally, the transfer of files is asynchronous, which indicates that the transfer of files can take place in only one direction at any given time. This is because the transfer of files occurs from one system to the other. As a direct consequence of this, it is significantly quicker than the rest of the protocols.

Benefits of Using FTP

There are several methods available for sending files. However, some of the convincing arguments in favor of transferring data using FTP are as follows −

  • Security − The provision of many layers of security is the primary advantage brought about by the utilization of an FTP server for the transmission of files. In addition, users have the ability to select the particular security mechanism that best suits their needs and use that for file transfers.

  • Control − Another significant advantage is that you have complete command over the data transfer taking place. Even the smallest details of control have been handed over to you. In order to give you the ability to control who can upload files, download files, change files, and share files. FTP gives you the opportunity to operate your server in a more efficient manner, which means that not everyone in your company needs to have the same level of administrative power over the server.

  • Bigger File Transfers − By using FTP servers, you won't have to worry about the difficulty of delivering larger files to the intended recipient. You may transfer gigabytes of data in a matter of seconds with a dedicated FTP server if you configure it with a network connection capable of 10 gigabits per second.

  • Disaster Recovery − In the event that any of the systems in your firm become inoperable, the data stored on the FTP server can be retrieved. It will guarantee that none of your files are damaged in any way as a result of the malfunction in the system.

Drawbacks of Using FTP

Packet Capture Issue − FTP servers do not come equipped with their own encryption software. As a consequence, it becomes simple for a hacker to intercept the data flow and read out all of the information without first having to locate any public or private keys.

What is SMTP?

An SMTP server's major function is to send, receive, and forward emails between the sender and the receiver. It does this by sending, receiving, and forwarding messages. The user's mail client or application can set the SMTP server's address, which is seen in the header of outgoing messages. The server address for Gmail is an example of a frequently seen type of SMTP server.

The simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) server is not quite the same as a regular server, but an SMTP server does not necessarily need to be hosted on a machine. In order to send and receive e-mail, it functions more like an application that stays active all the time.

Various SMTP Transfer Types

SMTP employs two techniques for sending and receiving email. End-toend and store-and-forward are two examples.

  • End-to-end − The client's SMTP server will initiate the communication session throughout this transfer phase. The SMTP at the receiver's end, on the other hand, will respond to the client's request. Emails are sent to servers at multiple businesses using this form of transport. This model evolved as the favoured form of communication among various companies and domains.

  • Store-and-forward − This mail transfer is only used when the sender and receiver are both from the same organisation and the communication has been established using the receiver's SMTP. The SMTP server will make a copy of the mail and store it until the receiver's SMTP successfully receives the copy of the mail.

Advantages of Using SMTP

Following are some of the notable advantages of using SMTP −

  • Easy to Use − It is one of the quickest methods for sending and receiving text messages over the internet. It is applicable to a wide range of systems, networks, and even tools. Using the internet, even the most basic computer can send an email over the world.

  • Long Reach − You can send mail from anywhere in the world and it will be sent to the recipient in an instant. The SMTP protocol was created primarily to convey text messages across the internet. As a result, when you send an email, it receives a priority transfer.

  • Connect with Any System − Emails have become an integral part of our daily lives. If you work in a firm, you understand how critical it is to monitor your emails. Emails may now be sent from any smartphone, eliminating the requirement for a computer or laptop nearby. Even a first-generation smartphone could send email. This demonstrates how adaptable the SMTP connection is. When it comes to compatibility, it truly has no bounds.

  • No Need of Development − SMTP is already a well-established and widely used protocol. This transfer protocol requires no additional work on your part.

Difference between FTP and SMTP

The following table highlights the major differences between FTP and SMTP −

Basis of comparisonFTPSMTP
Full-FormFile Transfer ProtocolSimple Mail Transfer Protocol
ProtocolFTP's TCP connection is persistent for the control connection, but if TCP is used for data, the FTP protocol becomes non-persistent.Transfer protocols mostly operate on the push protocol system.
Number of TCP Connections21
Port numberFTP employs port numbers 20 and 21.Port 25 is used by SMTP.
Type of BandFTP makes use of out-ofband transport techniques.In-band transfer techniques are used for the SMTP connection.
Type of TCP ConnectionBoth Persistent and Non- PersistentPersistent


FTP and SMTP are both connection-oriented protocols. The most frequently used communication protocol is FTP, while SMTP is a well-known protocol in electronic mail. FTP is used for downloading files, while SMTP is used for send emails.

SMTP allows mails to be transferred between sender and receiver on the same or different computers. FTP, on the other hand, divides the client and server into data and control.

Updated on: 21-Jul-2022

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