The Difference Between a File Server & an FTP Server

By Mitchell White

File serving and FTP serving are two different networking techniques for computers that often work in concert. Networking is a method of sharing information between multiple computers.


File servers store data for an entire network, just as an individual computer's hard drive stores data for that individual computer. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers run an FTP application to exchange files over the Internet, which is the world's largest network.


File serving and FTP serving are both networking methods that involve file transfer between computers. FTP servers need to work together with file servers in order to function. In a network using FTP, file servers store data while FTP servers transmit that data over the Internet, with both being necessary for file transfer to occur.


FTP servers download files from or upload files to file servers. FTP servers move files to and from file server locations. FTP servers require file servers, but file servers do not require FTP servers, since file servers also serve various intranet networks not connected to the Internet.