What is the FTP Port Number? [Default FTP Port]

Do you often encounter acronyms and technical terms like FTP UDP or TCP? These might initially seem cryptic. However, each of these terms represents different protocols. Today, we will deeply research FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol.

We will also discuss the FTP port number as a vital File Transfer Protocol component. We will review how to use the FTP default port to transfer files between different clients on a network. So, let’s get started!

What is File Transfer Protocol?

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol. Organizations use it to transfer files between computers over a network. FTP is the go-to tool for downloading or sharing files to or from a remote server.

FTP operates on the client-server model. Once you create an FTP server, you can set it up to initiate a connection with the clients. The server uses the FTP ports to initiate file transfers among the clients. Thus, client computers can establish reliable data transfer among each other. But what about the FTP port number? Let's dig deeper.

What Port is FTP?

FTP port

The FTP port is like a digital gateway that allows your computer to connect with other computers on the internet to transfer files. It's a specific door through which data travels between your system and the remote server.

FTP uses two distinct ports - One for sending commands and the other for data transfer. These ports are crucial for connecting the client and the server.

FTP Default Port (Port 21)

The default FTP port for sending commands is 21. The client sends commands to the server using this port. These commands are like instructions that tell the server what to do when you initiate an FTP connection.

FTP Data Port (Port 20)

Now, the data transfer happens through a separate FTP default port 20. This separation of duties ensures that control commands and data transfer don't interfere with each other, leading to a more efficient file transfer process.

FTP predominantly uses these two port numbers. Hence, these port numbers are crucial for communication between FTP clients and servers.

Features of FTP

Why is the File Transfer Protocol a reliable choice for port file transfer? Listing here the main features you must know:

   Ease of Use: FTP has a simple command structure. It is easily accessible for beginners and experts.
   Platform Independence: It's a cross-platform protocol. Hence, it works seamlessly on various operating systems like Windows and Linux.
   File Management: The FTP default port allows you to perform various file management tasks. You can easily manage root directories and other folders on the remote server.
   Security Options: It offers you ]the flexibility to choose the level of security. You can implement security protocols that suit your needs.
   Resume Support: If your file transfer is interrupted, you needn't worry. The FTP server can pick up where it left off, so you don’t lose important data.
   Multiple Simultaneous Connections: You can create an FTP server and connect it to many directories simultaneously. It’s an easy method for streamlining your file transfer tasks.
   Anonymous FTP: You can use FTP without a username and password. This feature comes in handy for public file sharing.

What is the Active and Passive Mode of FTP?

FTP Active and Passive Mode

FTP operates using two different modes: active and passive. These modes dictate how to set the data connections and network configurations. So, let’s understand the active and passive modes of FTP.

Active Mode:

In active mode, the client opens a random port, like port 1024, for data transfer. The client then informs the server about this port through the control connection on port 21. Then, the server connects to the specified data port of the client. So it is less firewall-friendly.

Passive Mode:

Passive mode is more firewall-friendly. In this mode, the client opens a random port, but it's for the control connection. The server responds by opening a random port for the data connection, making it easier to navigate the network configurations.

You can easily switch between the two FTP modes. But consider your network setup and security requirements before switching.

What is an Anonymous FTP?

As mentioned earlier, Anonymous FTP is a feature that allows users to download publicly available files without requiring a username or password. It's like a digital library where anyone can freely access the information.

What are FTP Servers?

FTP servers are like digital post offices. They store files and folders, waiting for clients to request and download them. These servers run FTP software, which manages the incoming and outgoing file transfers and ensures data reaches the right destination.

How to create FTP server?

If you want your server to have an FTP default port, here is a step-wise guide for building your own FTP server.

   Install Your FTP Server Software: Various FTP server software options are available. Some popular options include FileZilla Server and ProFTPD. Select the one that suits the server’s operating system.
   Configure the Server: Access the FTP server software's configuration settings and set up parameters such as the default port, user access, and shared directories.
   User Accounts: Create user accounts and assign access permissions. You can allocate admin accounts to eliminate all authorized users. This will also let you know who can connect to your server.
   Test the Server: Before making your server live, test what port is FTP internally. Make sure that the connectivity works as expected. Check both the control and data connections.
   Set Up Port Forwarding: If your FTP server is behind a router, you must set up port forwarding to allow external connections to reach your server.
   Security Measures: Implement security measures such as strong passwords and firewall rules. For added protection, you can also use encryption.
   Public or Private Access: Decide if you want your FTP server to be public (anonymous access) or private (restricted to specific users).

What are FTP Clients?

FTP client

FTP clients are the medium for transferring files to and from FTP servers. These use TCP to manage data transfer and other communications with the server. You can use FTP client software to connect with others and the FTP server. Once you enter the username and password, you can access the command link between both devices. Then, you can carry out any administrative task on the server.

Highlighting here the main differences between an FTP server and an FTP client:

Feature FTP Server FTP Client
Function Manages files on the server side Initiates file transfers from the client
Role Hosts files for access by clients Requests and downloads files from the server
Actions Listens for incoming connections Initiates connections to servers
Capabilities Allows multiple simultaneous connections Typically handles a single connection at a time
File Operations Uploads and stores files Downloads and uploads files
Usage Deployed on the server side to share files Installed on user devices to access and transfer files

Changing FTP to use a different port number:

Ports 20 and 21 are the default ports for FTP, but you can use other port numbers too. Here are the steps!

   Access server configuration: Use the FTP server software to locate the configuration file. It might have a name similar to ftpd.conf or vsftpd.conf.
   Locate the port settings: Find the configuration file to check the current port number used by the FTP server and identify the current server settings.
   Change the port number: Replace the FTP default port with your desired port number. Make sure to edit the server configuration by choosing an available and unused port.
   Save and restart: After making the change, save the configuration file and restart the FTP server. The new port number will take effect after the server restarts.
   Update your firewall: If you have a firewall, update its rules to allow traffic on the new FTP port.
Changing the FTP port number improves the server’s security prospects. Now that you know how to modify it, let's move on to the next section.

FTP UDP or TCP: Understanding The Connection

File Transfer Protocol is a fundamental file-sharing tool. But how does it work? One crucial aspect is whether FTP relies on UDP or TCP for data transfer.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) are digital communication protocols. FTP primarily uses TCP for data transfer. Let’s find out why this matters!

TCP is like a diligent postal worker who ensures that each letter you send arrives at its destination in the correct order. It establishes a reliable connection between the sender and the receiver. It carefully manages the data flow to ensure your files reach their destinations safely.

FTP's reliance on TCP is a strategic choice when you want your pictures and documents to arrive in a manageable time. TCP's error-checking and correction capabilities make it the ideal choice for FTP.

On the other hand, UDP is more like a speed courier who prioritizes fast delivery over meticulous accuracy. It's a quicker protocol than TCP, but it doesn't guarantee that data packets will arrive in the correct order or at all.

This speed vs. reliability trade-off is why FTP sticks with TCP. It's the preferred choice for FTP due to its error-checking and correction capabilities. On the other hand, User Datagram Protocol is less reliable but faster. However, due to the critical nature of file transfers, FTP opts for TCP's stability over UDP's speed.


FTP has stood the test of time as a reliable method for file transfer. The FTP port number plays a crucial role in file transfer. Port 21 for control and port 20 for data form the backbone of FTP connections. It enables users to share files across the internet effortlessly. Hence, knowing about FTP ports can be a valuable asset for you. So, next time you connect to an FTP server, you'll learn how to transfer files!
Rashmi Debnath

Hi, I'm Rashmi D., a passionate content writer with 10+ years of expertise. By profession, I'm a cloud Architect who enjoys translating complex technologies into reader-friendly technical blogs and articles. I enjoy exploring and testing new trends and the latest tech inventions. Let's discover what's happening in the tech world together through my writings!