Difference between FTP and TFTP

FTP is used for copying files from one host to another host location. FTP works on Port 20 and 21. Port 20 is used for data and Port 21 is used for connection control.

TFTP is lighter than FTP and is used when a file transfer functionality is needed without FTP features. It works on Port 69 and follows the UDP protocol.

Read through this article to find out more about FTP and TFTP and how they are different from each other.

What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a client/server protocol for sending files to and from a host computer. User names and passwords can be used to authenticate FTP.

Anonymous FTP allows users to access files, programs, and other data through the Internet without a login or password. Some websites enable users to use "anonymous" or "guest" as their user ID and an email address as their password. Publicly available files are frequently found in a particular directory and easily transferred to a user's PC.

FTP is an Internet standard for moving or transferring data over TCP or IP networks from one computer to another. Abhay Bhushan wrote the first FTP specification, published as RFC 114 on April 16, 1971. RFC 765 was eventually introduced to replace it (June 1980).

The initial FTP client software relied on the DOS command prompt, which had standardized commands and syntax. Since then, various graphical user interface (GUI) clients for operating systems have been developed, making it easier for users to upload and download files.

Note that FTP is not compatible with every system and it does not allow simultaneous transfer of data to multiple receivers.

What is TFTP?

TFTP stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol. It uses the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to transmit data from one end to the other.

The most common usage of TFTP is to read and write files/mail to and from a distant server. One of the essential technologies for client/server and computer network architectures is file transmission.

Compared to FTP, Trivial FTP is a straightforward design and has fewer functionalities (FTP). While transmitting files, TFTP does not provide any authentication or security. As a result, it's commonly used to transfer boot files or configuration information between workstations in a local setup. Due to its fundamental nature, it is rarely utilized interactively by users in a computer network. It is also unsafe to use via the Internet due to its lack of security.

Because it can be quickly implemented with a tiny amount of memory, TFTP is beneficial for booting computers and devices that do not have hard disk drives or storage devices. Due of this, TFTP is one of the essential components of the network boot protocol, also known as the Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE).

The most common port used for TFTP data transport is 69. On the other hand, the sender and receiver choose the data transmission ports when the connection is established.

Difference between FTP and TFTP

The following table highlights the major differences between FTP and TFTP.

Stands For
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
TFTP stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol.
Software Size
FTP software is heavier than TFTP.
TFTP is lightweight.
FTP works on ports 20 and 21.
TFTP works on port 69.
Protocol used
FTP is based on TCP.
TFTP is based on UDP.
FTP is more complex than TFTP.
TFTP is less complex than FTP.
FTP has lots of commands or messages.
TFTP has only five messages.
Authentication is must for FTP.
Authentication is not required in case of TFTP.


Some applications do not need the full functionality of TCP, nor can they afford the complexity. TFTP is useful in such cases because it supports an inexpensive structure that does not require complex interactions between the client and the server. However, TFTP is an unsecured protocol (as it uses UDP) that does not support authentication.