Understanding How
File Transfer Protocol Works

If you’re looking to use a file server, network-attached service (NAS), or other file storage device to store your data, you may want to know how protocols and codes work. Understanding how file transfer protocol (FTP) works is vital if you want to fully secure the transfer and storage of your data across several devices and networks. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, you can still grasp the basic idea behind how it all works and then go from there.

What Is a File Transfer Protocol?

File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, is a computer network service that delivers data files across the Internet. When a file is saved on a computer, it’s sent through a local area network (LAN). From there, it can be accessed by anyone over that LAN, even if that person doesn’t have the appropriate software installed on their computer to view, read, or delete the file.

What Is the Function of FTP Servers?

FTP servers play an essential role in handling and transferring files through various servers. The file you get from your website can be sent through the Internet at a standard connection speed. You can click here to learn more about FTP servers.

A typical FTP server will be connected to the Internet via a high-speed modem. Every computer on the network with an FTP connection has a file directory on the server, which holds the files that have been downloaded. When you have a file transferred from a website to an FTP server, it goes into the directory where it can be accessed by an approved user. You can connect to an FTP server either by using the web browser or with a special program.

Why Do People Use FTP?

Easy, fast, and convenient file sharing is the number one reason people use FTP. Suppose you have a website with many pictures, illustrations, videos, music, etc. In that case, your staff can have an easy way to access and reuse those files to create more content through various platforms such as social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

How Does FTP Identify File Types? 

Next, let’s talk about how FTP works to identify file types. The most common type is plaintext. Plaintext data is the easiest to recognize because the file is simply a string of characters. When uploading a file, the file system on your NAS uses this identifying string to recognize it. For instance, if you uploaded a picture of your son playing with his dog, then the system would know that it’s the same file of that certain type.

Common Examples Of FTP 

Now that you know that FTP identifies, transfers, and uploads files to and from your storage. If you’re running Windows, then there’s a file management system that also comes with your Windows server that uses the FTP method.

Again, it’s very easy to access your storage using FTP because it comes with a graphical user interface, making uploading and downloading files quickly and simply. However, there are service providers who offer a more sophisticated and secure file sharing method that can be tailored according to your personal or business needs.

Another common example of an FTP is the command channel. A command channel is a simple protocol that allows you to specify commands to be sent to a specific file. For instance, if you want to move a file from one location to another, you need to use the rename command and then send it to the specified destination.

Protect Yourself from Cybercriminals 

Despite the ease and convenience that FTPs bring, users are still recommended to exercise caution. The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns about the anonymous use of FTP servers to store malicious tools or conduct cyberattacks. When it’s in anonymous mode, the cyber-attacker can authenticate the FTP server without using a password or email address.

  • To protect yourself from cyberattacks, please be guided on the following:
  • Use an antivirus software
  • Use a secure file transfer protocol
  • Implement a strict password policy
  • Apply two-factor authentication
  • Perform software updates
  • Encrypt data stored in your server


Knowing how the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) works is essential, especially if you’re running an organization that requires project collaboration and file sharing. With a secure FTP method, you’ll be able to edit and transfer files much faster than usual.

Most importantly, you can create a more interactive way of working with your files using FTP. However, precautionary measures must still be taken to make sure that the files transferred and stored through the FTP method are secure from hackers and cyber-criminals.