Comparison of file transfer protocols

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This article lists communication protocols that are designed for file transfer over a telecommunications network.

Protocols for shared file systems—such as 9P and the Network File System—are beyond the scope of this article, as are file synchronization protocols.

Protocols for packet-switched networks[edit]

A packet-switched network transmits data that is divided into units called packets. A packet comprises a header (which describes the packet) and a payload (the data). The Internet is a packet-switched network, and most of the protocols in this list are designed for its protocol stack, the IP protocol suite.

They use one of two transport layer protocols: the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). In the tables below, the "Transport" column indicates which protocol(s) the transfer protocol uses at the transport layer. Some protocols designed to transmit data over UDP also use a TCP port for oversight.

The "Server port" column indicates the port from which the server transmits data. In the case of FTP, this port differs from the listening port. Some protocols—including FTP, FTP Secure, FASP, and Tsunami—listen on a "control port" or "command port", at which they receive commands from the client.

Similarly, the encryption scheme indicated in the "Encryption" column applies to transmitted data only, and not to the authentication system.

Overview[edit]

Color key:     International standard     Internet Standard     Proposed Standard     Internet Draft
Protocol Original author First published Protocol suite Standard Refs
Full name Abbreviation
BitTorrent BT Bram Cohen 2001 N/A No [1]
CCSDS File Delivery Protocol CFDP N/A ISO 17355:2007
CCSDS 727.0-B-4
Cross File Transfer CFT N/A No
EForward N/A No
Ether File Transfer Protocol EFTP John Shoch 1979 PARC Universal Packet No [2][3]
Fast and Secure Protocol FASP Ying Xu, Michelle Munson, Serban Simu 2007 N/A No [4]
File Delivery over Unidirectional Transport FLUTE Internet Society 2004 N/A RFC 6726 [5]
File Service Protocol FSP Wen-King Su 1991 N/A No [6][7]
File Transfer Access and Management FTAM ISO 8571-4:1988
File Transfer Protocol FTP Abhay Bhushan 1971 Internet protocol suite RFC 959 [8]
FTP Secure FTPS Internet Society 1997 Internet protocol suite RFC 2228, 4217 [9][10]
HTTP Secure HTTPS Taher Elgamal et al. 1995 Internet protocol suite RFC 7230 [11][12]
Host Unix Linkage File Transfer HULFT ? ? N/A No
Hypertext Transfer Protocol HTTP Tim Berners-Lee et al. 1991 Internet protocol suite RFC 7231 [13][14]
Micro Transport Protocol µTP Ludvig Strigeus, Greg Hazel, Stanislav Shalunov, Arvid Norberg, Bram Cohen 2007 N/A No [15][16]
Multicast Dissemination Protocol MDP No
Multicast File Transfer Protocol MFTP C. Kenneth Miller et al. 1995 N/A IETF Draft (1998) [17]
NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast Transport Protocol NORM RFC 5740
Odette File Transfer Protocol OFTP Organisation for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission in Europe 1986 X.25 RFC 6726 [18]
Odette File Transfer Protocol 2 OFTP2 Organisation for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission in Europe 2007 X.25, Internet protocol suite RFC 5024 (V1.3) [19]
Reliable Blast UDP RBUDP Eric He et al. 2002 N/A No [20]
Remote copy rcp ? 1982 Internet protocol suite No [21]
Secure copy SCP Tatu Ylonen ? Secure Shell No [22]
Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol S-HTTP IETF Web Transaction Security Working Group 1999 N/A RFC 2660 [23]
Simple Asynchronous File Transfer SAFT Ulli Horlacher 1995 N/A No [24][25]
Simple File Transfer Protocol SFTP Mark K. Lottor 1984 N/A RFC 913 [26]
SSH file transfer protocol SFTP Tatu Ylönen c. 1997 Secure Shell IETF Draft (2006) [27]
T.127 T.127 ? ? N/A ITU T.127
Trivial File Transfer Protocol TFTP Noel Chiappa 1980 Internet protocol suite RFC 1350 [28]
Tsunami UDP Protocol Tsunami Mark Meiss et al. 2002 N/A No [29][30]
UDP-based Data Transfer Protocol UDT Yunhong Gu 2004 N/A No
UDP-based File Transfer Protocol UFTP Dennis Bush 2001 N/A No [31]
Unix-to-Unix Copy UUCP Mike Lesk 1979 N/A No
Warp Speed Data Transfer WDT Laurent Demailly et al. 2015 N/A No [32]

Features[edit]

The "Managed" column indicates whether the protocol is designed for managed file transfer (MFT). MFT protocols prioritise secure transmission in industrial applications that require such features as auditable transaction records, monitoring, and end-to-end data security. Such protocols may be preferred for electronic data interchange.[33]

Protocol Encryption
(data)
Transfer
resuming
Multicast
capable
Managed Refs
BitTorrent None[a] Yes Peer-to-peer No [34][35]
Cross File Transfer (CFT) TLS / SSL Yes [36][37]
EForward Proprietary Yes [38]
Ether File Transfer Protocol (EFTP) None ? No No [39]
Fast and Secure Protocol (FASP) AES-256 / AES-192 / AES-128 Yes No [40][41][42]
File Delivery over Unidirectional Transport (FLUTE) Optional/Unspecified[b] No Yes [43][44][45][46]
File Service Protocol (FSP) None Yes No No [47][48]
File Transfer Access and Management (FTAM) ?[c] [49]
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) None Yes[d] No No [50][51][52][53][54]
FTP Secure (FTPS) TLS / SSL Yes No No
HTTP Secure (HTTPS) TLS / SSL Yes No No [14][55][56]
Host Unix Linkage File Transfer (HULFT) AES ? No [57][58][59][60]
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) None
(see HTTPS and S-HTTP)
Yes No No [14][61]
Micro Transport Protocol (µTP) None Yes Peer-to-peer No [15]
Multicast Dissemination Protocol (MDP) None Yes Yes [62][63]
Multicast File Transfer Protocol (MFTP) None Yes Yes No [64][65]
NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast Transport Protocol (NORM) IPsec Yes Yes [66][67]
Odette File Transfer Protocol (OFTP) None Yes [68]
Odette File Transfer Protocol 2 (OFTP2) TLS Yes [69]
Reliable Blast UDP (RBUDP) None No No [20][70][71]
Remote copy (rcp) None No No No [72]
Secure copy (SCP) Secure Shell No No No
Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (S-HTTP) CMS / MOSS / other No No No [73]
Simple Asynchronous File Transfer (SAFT) PGP ? No No [24][25][74]
Simple File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) None Yes No No [75]
SSH file transfer protocol (SFTP) Secure Shell Yes No No [76]
T.127 None Yes Yes No [77][78][79]
Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) None No No No [80]
Tsunami UDP Protocol None No No No [81][82]
UDP-based Data Transfer Protocol (UDT) Experimental No No No [82][83][84]
UDP-based File Transfer Protocol (UFTP) AES-256 / AES-128 / 3DES / DES[e] Yes Yes No [82][31][85]
Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) None Some[f] No No [86][87]
Warp Speed Data Transfer (WDT) AES-128 (OFB / CTR) Yes No No [88][89][90]
  1. ^ Some implementations can obfuscate traffic using RC4 et al. See BitTorrent protocol encryption.
  2. ^ RFC 6726 suggests IPSec as one option.
  3. ^ One implementation, Fujitsu openFT, applies AES.
  4. ^ RFC 1123 (1989) extends and corrects the provisions for restart/resume that were published in RFC 959 (1985). RFC 3659 (2007) provides for resuming in stream mode.
  5. ^ These are the options in the reference implementation, which uses OpenSSL.
  6. ^ The BNU implementation of UUCP can resume an interrupted file transfer.

Ports[edit]

In the table below, the data port is the network port or range of ports through which the protocol transmits file data. The control port is the port used for the dialogue of commands and status updates between client and server.

The column "Assigned by IANA" indicates whether the port is listed in the Service Name and Transport Protocol Port Number Registry, which is curated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA devotes each port number in the registry to a specific service with a specific transport protocol. The table below lists the transport protocol in the "Transport" column.

Protocol Data port Control port Assigned
by IANA
Assignee Refs
Server Client Transport Server Client Transport
BitTorrent 6881[a] 6881 TCP 6881 6881 TCP No N/A [91]
CCSDS File Delivery Protocol (CFDP)
Cross File Transfer (CFT) 1761[b] TCP / X.25 [92][93]
EForward 2181 TCP / UDP [94]
Ether File Transfer Protocol (EFTP) N/A N/A None N/A N/A None N/A N/A
Fast and Secure Protocol (FASP) ≥33001 UDP 22 TCP No N/A [91]
File Delivery over Unidirectional Transport (FLUTE) 4001 UDP No N/A [91]
File Service Protocol (FSP) Chosen by user[c] UDP No N/A [91]
File Transfer Access and Management (FTAM) 4800 / 102 TCP [95]
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Active mode 20 20 TCP[d] 21 ≥1024 TCP Yes Jon Postel [91]
Passive mode ≥1024[e] ≥1024
FTP Secure (FTPS) 989 TCP 990 TCP Yes Christopher Allen [91]
HTTP Secure (HTTPS) 443 TCP TCP Yes IESG [91]
Host Unix Linkage File Transfer (HULFT) 30000 TCP TCP No N/A [91]
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 80 TCP TCP Yes Tim Berners-Lee [91]
Micro Transport Protocol (µTP) UDP No N/A [91]
Multicast Dissemination Protocol (MDP) Chosen by user UDP [96][97]
Multicast File Transfer Protocol (MFTP) 5402 UDP Yes Steve Bannister [91]
NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast Transport Protocol (NORM) UDP [98][99]
Odette File Transfer Protocol (OFTP) 3305 TCP / X.25 TCP / X.25 [100]
Odette File Transfer Protocol 2 (OFTP2) 6619 TCP / X.25 TCP / X.25 [101]
Reliable Blast UDP (RBUDP) Chosen by user UDP No N/A [91]
Remote copy (rcp) 514 TCP TCP Yes [91]
Secure copy (SCP) 22 TCP TCP Yes [91]
Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (S-HTTP) 80 TCP TCP No N/A [91]
Simple Asynchronous File Transfer (SAFT) 487 TCP Yes Ulli Horlacher [91]
Simple File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) 115 TCP TCP Yes Mark Lottor [91]
SSH file transfer protocol (SFTP) 22 TCP TCP Yes [91]
T.127 1503 TCP TCP Yes Jim Johnston [91]
Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) 69 UDP Yes David Clark [91]
Tsunami UDP Protocol Chosen by user UDP TCP No N/A [91]
UDP-based Data Transfer Protocol (UDT) Chosen by server UDP No N/A [91]
UDP-based File Transfer Protocol (UFTP) 1044 UDP No N/A [91]
Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) 540 TCP TCP Yes [91]
Warp Speed Data Transfer (WDT) Chosen by server or by user TCP TCP No N/A [91]
  1. ^ Typically, if port 6881 is unavailable as a listening port, the peer incrementally tries 6882–6889. Another port may be specified in software.
  2. ^ 1761 is the default port, but 1761–1768 are allocated by IANA.
  3. ^ UDP port 21 is sometimes chosen for FSP.
  4. ^ FTP was originally designed for NCP, a protocol used on ARPANET before the advent of TCP. The TCP implementation of FTP was standardized in RFC 959.
  5. ^ The server listens on TCP port 21 (the control port), and the client sends commands to this port from a random port above 1023. To transfer data in active mode, the server initiates a connection from port 20 to the client at the randomly selected port number.
    In passive mode, the client uses a random port above 1023 as a control port, and from this initiates file transfer. The server sends or receives data from a randomly selected port above 1023, and the client sends or receives data from one port number above its own randomly selected control port.

Serial protocols[edit]

A 9-pin to 25-pin RS-232 adapter cable

The following protocols were designed for serial communication, mostly for the RS-232 standard. They are used for uploading and downloading computer files via modem or serial cable (e.g., by null modem or direct cable connection). UUCP is one protocol that can operate with either RS-232 or the Transmission Control Protocol as its transport. OBject EXchange is a protocol for binary object wireless transfer via the Bluetooth standard. Bluetooth was conceived as a wireless replacement for RS-232.

Overview[edit]

Protocol Author First released License Description Refs
BiModem Erik Labs 1989
BLAST Communications Research Group ? [102]
CModem Lavio Pareschi 1989
B protocol CompuServe 1981
JMODEM Richard B. Johnson ?
HS/Link Samuel H. Smith 1991
Kermit Frank da Cruz et al. 1981 [103]
LeechModem Sam Brown ?
Lynx Matthew Thomas 1989
NMODEM L. B. Neal 1990
OBEX File Transfer Protocol ? ? A synchronous file transfer protocol in the OBject EXchange (OBEX) Bluetooth profile.
OBEX Push ? ? An asynchronous file transfer protocol in the OBject EXchange (OBEX) Bluetooth profile. [104]
Punter Steve Punter ?
SEAlink Thom Henderson 1986 An XMODEM-compatible protocol developed to avoid propagation delays in satellite transmissions and packet networks. [105][106][107]
SMODEM Arisoft ?
Tmodem Mike Bryeans ?
UUCP Mike Lesk 1979
MODEM7 Mark M. Zeigler, James K. Mills 1980 [108]
XMODEM Ward Christensen 1977 Public domain [109]
WXMODEM Peter Boswell 1986 Public domain [110][111]
YMODEM Chuck Forsberg 1985 Public domain [110]
ZMax Mike Bryeans c. 1991
ZMODEM Chuck Forsberg 1986 Public domain [110]

Features[edit]

Protocol Data block size
(bytes)
Data
compression
Error detection Transfer
resuming
Bidirectional Sliding window Refs
BiModem Yes
BLAST CRC Yes Yes
CModem 32–4096 CRC Yes
B protocol 128–2048 CRC32 / CRC16 / 8-bit checksum Yes Yes
JMODEM 64–8192 RLE
HS/Link CRC32 Yes Yes
Kermit ≤94
(default: 80)
No Checksum Over full-duplex only [112]
LeechModem
Lynx RLE CRC32 Yes
NMODEM 2048
OBject EXchange
Punter
SEAlink Yes Yes
SMODEM Yes
Tmodem No
UUCP "g" ≤4096 No No [113][114]
MODEM7 128 No Checksum Stop-and-wait ARQ
XMODEM 128 No Checksum Stop-and-wait ARQ
WXMODEM ≤512 Yes
YMODEM 1024 No CRC16
ZMax ≤~32,768 CRC32
ZMODEM 256 / 1024 No CRC32 Yes

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen, Bram (2 July 2001). "The BitTorrent Protocol Specification". Yahoo! Finance Groups. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  2. ^ Shoch, John (1979). EFTP: A PUP-based Ether File Transfer Protocol.
  3. ^ Snodgrass, Richard (December 1982). A Relational Approach to Monitoring Complex Systems. pp. 119, 149. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  4. ^ United States patent 20090063698, Ying Xu, Michelle Christine Munson, Serban Simu, "Method and system for aggregate bandwith control [sic]", issued 30 May 2017, assigned to Aspera, Inc. and IBM 
  5. ^ Paila, Toni; Luby, Michael; Lehtonen, Rami; Roca, Vincent; Walsh, Rod (October 2004). FLUTE - File Delivery over Unidirectional Transport. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC3926. RFC 3926. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3926. Retrieved 2018-03-07. 
  6. ^ Petersen, Julie K., ed. (2002). "File Service Protocol". The Telecommunications Illustrated Dictionary (2nd ed.). CRC Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-4200-4067-8 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "File Service Protocol (FSP) Frequently Asked Questions [Part 2/2]". FAQs.org. 21 July 1995. Section: "Who writes and maintains FSP software?". Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  8. ^ Bhushan, Abhay (April 1971). A File Transfer Protocol. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC0114. RFC 114. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc114. Retrieved 2018-02-24. 
  9. ^ Horowitz, M.; Lunt, S. (October 1997). FTP Security Extensions. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC2228. RFC 2228. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2228. Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  10. ^ Ford-Hutchinson, Paul (October 2005). Securing FTP with TLS. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC4217. RFC 4217. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4217. Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
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  13. ^ Berners-Lee, Tim. "The Original HTTP as defined in 1991". W3.org. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  14. ^ a b c Iwaya, Akemi (10 November 2015). "Why was 80 Chosen as the Default HTTP Port and 443 as the Default HTTPS Port?". How-To Geek. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
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  16. ^ Klinker, Eric (16 May 2010). "Eric Klinker Presentation at Emerging Communication Conference & Awards 2010 America § Status of uTP". eCommConf. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  17. ^ United States patent 7710961, C. Kenneth Miller, Thomas Andresen, Thomas Gardner, Craig Michelson, Kenneth Cates, Marc White, Kary Robertson, "System and method for sending packets over a computer network", issued 20 December 2011, assigned to Darby and Mohaine LLC 
  18. ^ Nash, David (September 1997). ODETTE File Transfer Protocol. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC2204. RFC 2204. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2204. Retrieved 2018-02-22. 
  19. ^ Friend, Ieuan (November 2007). ODETTE File Transfer Protocol 2. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC5024. RFC 5024. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5024. Retrieved 2018-02-22. 
  20. ^ a b He, Eric; Leigh, Jason; Yu, Oliver; DeFanti, Thomas A. (September 2002). "Reliable Blast UDP: Predictable High Performance Bulk Data Transfer" (PDF). Proceedings: IEEE International Conference on Cluster Computing, ICCC (January 2002). IEEE Cluster Computing 2002. Chicago. pp. 317–24. ISSN 1552-5244. OCLC 5942572037. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
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    It was originally a proprietary protocol at SSH Communications Security (www.ssh.com), though source code was publicly available. It took a while [sic] before we wrote the draft and brought it to the IETF for standardization (seems to have been January 2001).
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  44. ^ Jin, H.; Zhiyi, F.; Yang, Z.; Ruicheng, C.; Lu, Z. (2011). "Test and Evaluation of Flute Protocol Client Program". Information Technology Journal. Asian Network for Scientific Information. 10 (11): 2147–53. doi:10.3923/itj.2011.2147.2153. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
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References[edit]

Further reading[edit]