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The Difference Between FTP, FTPS, and SFTP

FTP (File Transfer Protocol), FTPS (FTP Secure), and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) are all protocols for transferring files between systems over a network. However, there are important differences between the three protocols:
1. Security: FTP is not encrypted, so all data transmitted over an FTP connection, including login credentials and the data being transferred, is sent in clear text and can be intercepted and read by a third party. FTPS provides encryption for the data being transferred, but not for the control channel that carries login credentials and other commands. SFTP, on the other hand, provides encryption for both the control channel and the data being transferred, providing the highest level of security for file transfers.
2. Authentication: FTP typically uses a username and password for authentication, which can be easily intercepted and compromised if the connection is not encrypted. FTPS provides the option to use SSL/TLS certificates for authentication, which is more secure than username and password authentication. SFTP uses the secure SSH protocol for authentication, providing strong encryption and secure authentication methods such as public key authentication.
3. File Transfer: FTP and FTPS are limited to file transfer only, while SFTP provides additional capabilities such as file and directory management, as well as remote file manipulation.
4. Port: FTP uses well-known port 21, while FTPS and SFTP use the same port as the underlying SSH protocol, which is typically port 22.
In summary, FTP is the oldest and least secure of the three protocols, while SFTP provides the highest level of security and the most features. FTPS provides intermediate security, but is not as widely used or supported as FTP or SFTP.