FTP Server Vs. Web Server

By G. Alan Jacobson

FTP and web servers both transmit information over the Internet, but they do so in different ways. An FTP server focuses on sharing files without providing an interface, while a web server provides visual pages of information.


An FTP server uses the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and a web server uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). FTP allows two computers to copy files to each other. HTTP provides methods to format and display text, pictures, and controls such as text boxes and buttons. HTTP describes what the user sees and how the user inputs information, while FTP does not.


Web browsers receive HTTP data from web servers and display that data in the way the web server dictates. Web browsers can also connect to FTP servers, but there are also many FTP client programs that can be used. When connecting to an FTP server, the browser or client determines how things are displayed instead of the server.

Setup Difficulty

Because a web server dictates what the user sees, the website has to be built in detail by a web designer. If files are to be shared using a web server, the web designer has to create links to the files and create an interface the user can use to upload files. For an FTP server, the files only need to be placed in a specific location and the user's FTP client will automatically create the interface necessary.