Difference between TELNET and FTP

FTP is an Internet protocol for transmitting or transferring data from one computer to another via TCP or IP networks. TELNET, on the other hand, is a connection protocol that allows a user to connect to a remote server waiting for commands. The user can then give commands to the server and inspect the returned responses, once the connection has been established.

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

What is Telnet?

Telnet is a network protocol that allows you to remotely connect to a computer and establish a two-way, collaborative text-based communication channel between two computers.

Telnet creates remote sessions using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networking protocol, controlled by the user. On the web, users can request specific files from remote computers using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). In contrast, Telnet allows users to log on as regular users with the privileges allocated to the specific applications and data on that computer.

Telnet is most commonly used by programmers and anyone who needs to access certain apps or data on a remote computer. Some servers allow remote access to public data via Telnet, allowing users to play simple games or look up weather forecasts. Many of these features are present because they are nostalgic or still compatible with older systems that require specific information.

What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a client/server protocol that allows you to transmit and receive files from a host computer. FTP authentication may be done via user names and passwords.

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.

Anonymous FTP allows users to access files, programs, and other data through the Internet without the need for a username and password. Users can use "anonymous" or "guest" as their user ID and an email address as their password on some websites.

The first FTP client software was based on the DOS command prompt, which provided a set of defined commands and syntax. 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). Various graphical user interface (GUI) clients for operating systems have been created since then, making it easier for users to upload and download data.

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

Difference between Telnet and FTP

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

TELNET is an abbreviation for Telecommunication Network. It is simply a connection protocol that allows a user to connect to a remote server that is listening for commands. Once the connection is established, the user can issue commands to the server computer, and examine the responses that are sent back.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and its primarily concern is to facilitate the transfer of files from one point to another, along with a few management capabilities like making and deleting directories.
Port Number Used
In general, TELNET uses the port number 23 for its command operations.
FTP uses port numbers 20 and 21 to establish a connection and perform file transfer operations.
Number of connections
Due to single operated port, TELNET can establish only one connection at a time.
FTP has two ports available, so it can establish two connections; one is for control command and another is for data transfer.
Remote Login
In case of TELNET, remote login is mandatory because issue commands could be run only after login.
Remote login is not mandatory in case of FTP.


Both TELNET and FTP are Application Layer protocols that are used to establish a connection between a remote user and a host at remote location. It is possible to use both these protocols in a collaborated way, to transparently login to a host server.