Difference between SFTP and SCP

The file transfer protocols SFTP and SCP are used to safely send files between computers over a network. While these protocols provide comparable functions, there are some differences between them.

SCP (Secure Copy) is a simple file transfer protocol that is commonly seen on UNIX systems. SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a more advanced SSH- based file transfer protocol.

Read this article to find out more about SFTP and SCP and how they are different from each other.

What is SFTP?

SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol based on the SSH (Secure Shell) protocol. SFTP allows secure file transmission over a network by encrypting data and allowing authentication procedures. It is a more complex protocol than FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and SCP (Secure Copy), and it includes features such as remote file management, resume functionality, and file compression.

SFTP is a client-server protocol in which the client connects to the SFTP server and transfers files. The SFTP server may be the same as the SSH server or a separate server running SFTP server software. When a client connects to a server, the SSH protocol is used to establish a secure, encrypted connection. The client then sends SFTP commands through this encrypted channel to the remote server to manage files.

SFTP has various advantages over conventional file transfer protocols. First, it allows for secure data authentication and encryption, making sure that the data being transported is protected from unauthorised access or interception. Second, SFTP offers a variety of file transfer modes, including ASCII, binary, and auto- detection, allowing for greater flexibility in uploading files of diverse sorts. Third, SFTP includes resume capability, which allows a file transfer to be continued from where it was paused, even if the connection is lost.

SFTP also has a number of additional options for managing files on a server that is far away. SFTP, for example, allows users to browse the remote directory structure, list directory contents, create and delete directories, and modify file permissions. SFTP also supports file compression and decompression, which can reduce the size of files exchanged over the network and save bandwidth.

What is SCP?

SCP works by first establishing a secure SSH connection between the local and remote sites and then copying files across them using the SCP command-line tool. SCP is based on the Unix "cp" programme for copying files between directories. SCP may copy single files as well as entire directories while preserving file permissions, ownership, and timestamps.

One of SCP's main advantages is its simplicity and ease of usage. Because SCP is a command-line tool, it is simple to integrate it into scripts and automated operations. SCP is also widely supported on Unix-based systems and can be used to transfer files across Unix-based computers of various types.

SCP is extremely secure since it uses the same encryption and authentication techniques as SSH. Strong encryption algorithms like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) are used, as well as public-key authentication, to prevent unauthorised access.

SCP is frequently used for backup and disaster recovery because it allows for the secure transfer of files between multiple servers and platforms. SCP is also often used for distributing software and upgrades to remote servers since it provides a safe and dependable method of file transfer.

Overall, SCP offers a simple and safe method of transferring files across a network, with robust encryption and authentication features. While it limits the functionality and flexibility of other file transfer protocols, SCP is a dependable and extensively used tool for securely moving information between Unix-based systems.

Difference between SFTP and SCP

The following table highlights the major differences between SFTP and SCP −





Secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP over SSH)

Secure Copy Protocol

Transfer mode

transfers files and directories between hosts.

Transfers files and directories between hosts.


It provides a set of commands to perform various file operations (ls, cd, put, and get).

It uses the Unix cp command to copy files between hosts.


It was supported on various platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

It supported a Unix-based system.





It allows resuming the interrupted file.

It doesn't allow resuming the interrupted file.


In conclusion, SFTP and SCP are both secure file transfer protocols that use SSH for encryption and authentication.

SFTP provides more advanced features such as remote file management and resume functionality, making it a more flexible choice for file transfer. SCP is a simpler protocol for transferring files on UNIX systems.

Finally, the choice between SFTP and SCP depends on the needs and requirements of your file transfer process.

Updated on: 02-May-2023


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