File Transfer Protocol

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to transfer files from one host or to another host over a TCP-based network, such as the Internet.

FTP is built on a client-server architecture and uses separate control and data connections between the client and the server. FTP users may authenticate themselves using a clear-text sign-in protocol, normally in the form of a username and password, but can connect anonymously if the server is configured to allow it. For secure transmission that hides (encrypts) the username and password, and encrypts the content, FTP is often secured with SSL/TLS ("FTPS"). SSH File Transfer Protocol ("SFTP") is sometimes also used instead.

The first FTP client applications were command-line applications developed before operating systems had graphical user interfaces, and are still shipped with most Windows, Unix, and Linux operating systems. Dozens of FTP clients and automation utilities have since been developed for desktops, servers, mobile devices, and hardware, and FTP has been incorporated into hundreds of productivity applications, such as Web page editors.

The original specification for the File Transfer Protocol was written by Abhay Bhushan and published as RFC 114 on 16 April 1971 and later replaced by RFC 765 (June 1980) and RFC 959 (October 1985), the current specification. Several proposed standards amend RFC 959, for example RFC 2228 (June 1997) proposes security extensions and RFC 2428 (September 1998) adds support for IPv6 and defines a new type of passive mode.

The protocol was first specified June 1980 and updated in RFC 959, which is summarized here.

The server responds over the control connection with three-digit status codes in ASCII with an optional text message. For example "200" (or "200 OK") means that the last command was successful. The numbers represent the code for the response and the optional text represents a human-readable explanation or request...

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