Happy Birthday: FTP turns 40 today

By on April 16, 2011, 12:32 PM
File Transfer Protocol (FTP), the standard network protocol used to copy a file from one host to another over a TCP-based network, is 40 years old today. It was originally written by Abhay Bhushan as the RFC 114 specification on April 16, 1971.

This specification was later replaced by RFC 765 (June 1980) and RFC 959 (October 1985). It's remarkable that the current version has not changed for over 25 years. There are several proposed standards that improve on RFC 959. RFC 2228 (June 1997) proposes security extensions and RFC 2428 (September 1998) adds support for IPv6 and defines a new type of passive mode.

FTP became popular since it required a minimum of handshaking, and was tolerant of temporary interruptions, making it very useful for long file transfer sessions. As alternatives became more and more easy to use though, FTP's adoption decreased. FTP is still used as an internal business solution to sharing large files. Because it so outdated, however, it is rarely used to easily allow external parties to access confidential information that is too large to send by email.

Personally, I still use FTP to update a website I maintain for a club. Other than that though, the last time I consciously used FTP many applications still use it in the background for certain tasks was years ago when I was trying to pirate something with my friends. FTP isn't really useful for piracy anymore and unless it's upgraded, it will die a slow death as alternatives continue to take over. Do you still use FTP, and if so, for what?

User Comments: 8

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Guest said:

Happy birthday FTP!

Do I still use it today? A decade ago, it was all rave for me, upping all my GIFs, HTML pages, CGI scripts, etc to my personal website's host via FTP. Oh well, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, many wouldn't really care about how to access and download from FTPs. :(

Cota Cota said:

wow thats really old, i wonder if it is the most old technology in the world of computers that is still in use?, well anyway its time to make that prostate exam :P

Ahmed90 Ahmed90 said:

happy Bday :P

FTP now is for servers/web masters only for easy access and fast file controll

for normal downloads HTTP or FTP it doesn't matter anymore same speed same time same work

Mizzou Mizzou said:

There's no way that I'm going to admit how old I was when ftp first came out, let's just say that I also used gopher and mosaic.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I'm not a server expert but I understand that using plain FTP in the open today is overkill due to security reasons. A decade ago the issue didn't seem that imminent but now SFTP or SSH must be used instead.

Quinneypoo said:

I use FTP to transfer games onto my PS3 harddrive.

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I use FTP to update a small file repository I use when linking stuff online.

I also routinely use FTP when updating or modifying my Dreambox satellite receiver.

I can recommend WinSCP for usage with FTP transfers, it is free and also (obviously) supports the secure SSH file transfer mode SCP which is obviously preferred over FTP for security reasons...

Tedster Tedster, Techspot old timer....., said:

ah, the late nights with my atari 800xl and a dial up modem using FTP to get games from underground BBS systems.

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