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HTTP vs. FTP: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 1, 2024
HTTP is a protocol for transferring web pages, while FTP is a protocol for transferring files between computers.

Key Differences

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, primarily used to transfer documents like HTML files. FTP (File Transfer Protocol), on the other hand, is a standard network protocol used for transferring files from one host to another over a TCP-based network, such as the internet.
HTTP is stateless, meaning it doesn't require a continuous connection; once the data is transferred, the connection is closed. FTP requires two connections during a session: a command connection for controlling the session and a data connection for transferring files, making it more suited for managing and transferring large files.
Security is a consideration where HTTP and FTP differ significantly. HTTP can be secured using HTTPS, which encrypts the data for secure transmission. FTP can use FTPS or SFTP for secure data transfer, but these are separate protocols from standard FTP, requiring additional setup.
In terms of usability, HTTP is often used through web browsers for viewing websites, whereas FTP is typically accessed using dedicated FTP clients or command-line tools. This difference highlights their distinct roles in internet communication - HTTP for web browsing and FTP for file management.
FTP allows for more control over file management tasks like uploading, downloading, renaming, and deleting files on a server. HTTP, however, is generally used for viewing and downloading resources from the web but doesn't inherently support file management tasks like FTP does.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Transferring web pages.
Transferring files between computers.

Connection Type

Stateless, single connection.
Stateful, uses two connections.


Can be secured with HTTPS.
Uses FTPS or SFTP for secure transfers.


Accessed through web browsers.
Accessed via FTP clients or command line.


Designed for viewing web resources.
Suited for comprehensive file management.

HTTP and FTP Definitions


HTTP operates over TCP/IP and is stateless.
Each HTTP request is independent, making the protocol stateless.


It enables transferring files between hosts on a network.
Using FTP, you can download files from a remote server to your computer.


It forms the foundation of data communication for the web.
HTTP requests are what browsers use to load web pages.


FTP is a network protocol for file transfer.
FTP allows users to upload files to a server remotely.


It can be secured using HTTPS, adding encryption.
Secure sites use HTTPS, an encrypted version of HTTP.


FTP uses separate control and data connections.
FTP maintains a command connection for instructions and a separate connection for file transfers.


HTTP is a protocol for transmitting web content.
Visiting http://www.example.com retrieves the homepage of the website.


Can be secured using FTPS or SFTP.
FTPS adds a layer of security to the FTP protocol for encrypted file transfer.


Primarily used for accessing websites.
HTTP is the protocol used when accessing HTML pages on the Internet.


Used for managing and manipulating files on a server.
With FTP, you can rename, delete, or move files on a web server.


A protocol used to request and transmit files, especially webpages and webpage components, over the internet or other computer network.


A communications protocol governing the transfer of files from one computer to another over a network.


A protocol (utilizing TCP) to transfer hypertext requests and information between servers and browsers


To transfer (a file) using FTP.


To transfer a file using FTP.


An acronym for file transfer protocol, a standardized protocol used to allow transmission of files between computers; as, send me the file by ftp. It consists of a set of coded signals which are transmitted between computers, and which inform the receiving computer of the nature of a packet of information to be transmitted, and inform the transmitting computer when a packet has been successfully received.


To send from one computer to another by means of the standard file transfer protocol (ftp); as, he ftp'd me the file yesterday.


Protocol that allows users to copy files between their local system and any system they can reach on the network


Use the File Transfer Protocol to transfer data from one computer to another;
You can FTP these data


What does HTTP stand for?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

Can FTP handle file uploads?

Yes, FTP is commonly used for uploading files to servers.

What is HTTPS?

Secure version of HTTP with encryption.

What is FTP used for?

For transferring files between computers on a network.

What's the difference between FTPS and SFTP?

FTPS is FTP with SSL encryption, while SFTP is based on SSH.

Do browsers use HTTP?

Yes, web browsers use HTTP to access websites.

Is FTP accessible via a web browser?

Some browsers support basic FTP functionality.

Are FTP connections always secure?

No, standard FTP is not encrypted, unlike its secure variants FTPS and SFTP.

Is HTTP secure?

It can be secured using HTTPS, which encrypts data.

Can HTTP be used for file transfers?

It's possible but not as efficient as FTP for large file transfers.

Is FTP faster than HTTP?

FTP can be faster for large file transfers.

What are the main functions of FTP?

Transferring, renaming, deleting, and managing files on a server.

Does HTTP need a continuous connection?

No, HTTP is stateless and closes the connection after each transfer.

How do FTP clients work?

They connect to FTP servers to upload, download, or manage files.

Can HTTP upload files?

Yes, though it's less common and not as robust as FTP.

Is HTTPS the same as SSL?

HTTPS uses SSL/TLS for encryption but they are not the same thing.

How does HTTP handle data transmission?

Via a stateless protocol where each request is independent.

Can FTP be used for web browsing?

No, it's designed for file transfers, not browsing web pages.

How does HTTP differ from HTML?

HTTP is a protocol for transferring data, while HTML is a language for creating web pages.

Is FTP suitable for quick, small file transfers?

While possible, FTP is more complex and better suited for larger transfers.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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