File Transfer Protocol – Advantages and Limitations


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) provides powerful file transfer options to companies, but it has limitations. Learn the ways using an FTP can speed up your projects, and understand the potential risks of using one.

What Is File Transfer Protocol?

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is rules enforced when transferring files on a network. Clients can download files from the server using an FTP. This is done through different interfaces, including web browsers. File Transfer Protocol is guidelines for transferring server files to clients.

Young woman in a modern office reviewing documents.
File transfer protocol provides guidelines to server to client transfers.

An easy to way to visualize an FTP is to picture a food vending machine. The client is the person buying food, and the food is a file. The machine is the server. The person is required to put money in and press buttons to make a selection in order to get their food. An FTP reacts the same way. The client requests files and the server provides them.

Important Innovations for Businesses

FTPs have business-specific features that are important for companies. Using an FTP allows the transfer of multiple files. More importantly, it can transfer entire directories, saving a lot of time and hassle. Further, numerous directories can be transferred all at once. The obvious benefits of this include directories with valuable data for specific departments of a company can be transferred in their entirety instead of file by file.

Female manager oversees her entire office.
An FTP allows transfer of numerous files.

Using a file transfer protocol offers companies automatic data backup. This is likely to be the strongest selling point of the FTP to most companies, as the idea of losing sensitive data is devastating. Another fail-safe function is the ability to continue a transfer from the exact point where it was interrupted. If a connection is lost, the transfer is saved and can be continued from its most recent spot upon reconnection.

Limitations of FTP

Security issues are the biggest concern companies have with secure file transfer protocols. Password theft is a common occurrence on FTPs, and private data can be read by unauthorized users. FTPs in general lack the necessary encryption to secure valuable information to a level that would make companies feel comfortable trusting FTP usage. Packet capture is an unfortunate consequence of FTP, as it can be exploited by hackers to read sensitive company data transferred using an FTP.

Four office workers at a meeting.
FTP has a few security limitations that may cause serious issues.

An FTP won’t meet the requirements of companies in need of large file transfers. There are restrictions to file sizes for FTPs. The size of the file allowed differs depending on the FTP used, but the difference in size restriction is around one to two gigabytes per file. Furthermore, Users can’t transfer to numerous recipients at once, which is a necessity in most businesses.

Using an FTP offers companies unique transfer modernization that can boost business projects. The biggest factor is whether or not the security issues and size limitations are too big of a risk for your company. Evaluate the overall sensitivity of stored and shared data before deciding whether an FTP is right for you.