FTP vs SMB – What’s the Difference – (Performance/Speed/Security)

FTP vs SMB – What’s the Difference – (Performance/Speed/Security). In this article we will introduce both FTP Server and SMB server with their prospective pros and cons and do a comparison. Let’s start. 

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Server Message Block (SMB) are two of the widely used transfer protocols in the industry. People have used both these protocols for different purposes based on their strengths. 

If you need to understand which file transfer protocol is best for your business requirements let’s introduce both file transfer protocols.

What is FTP?

FTP file transfer protocol enables you to transfer files between networks, and the basic functionality of FTP is to receive or send files.

You can rely on FTP to share files between computers on a network safely and securely. You can also use the FTP file protocol to access a computer on a network and manipulate, receive, send, or delete data files.

FTP can also be used to implement changes on a website. Its ability to handle large numbers of files can help you enhance the security of the users and give you enhanced file transfer speed.

You’ll better understand the FTP file transfer protocol by going through its features.

Features of FTP

FTP offers a wide range of features that can make the file transfer of users simplified and secure. We have highlighted the top features FTP offers:

  • It is one of the fastest and smooth ways to transfer files from one computer to another within the network.
  • It’s effective and time saving as you don’t have to complete different operations while accessing the file during the transfer.
  • It helps to provide the users with a better security ecosystem as you can only access the file once a valid password and username are entered.

Have a look at the wide range of advantages FTP offers.

Pros of FTP

  • One of the biggest advantages of FTP is that it offers a great level of security. Both SFTP server which is subsystem on top of the SSH version 2 protocol server and FTPS server are secure file transfer protocols that are an additional layer to the standard FTP transfer.
  • Additional control over the data transfer. FTP allows you to edit easily, download, delete or share files. You can even manage the large file using FTP and transfer them from one computer to another.
  • FTP allows you to use a single location to store and manage the files that can help you to streamline your file transferring process and improve your workflow.

Cons of FTP

Now that we have understood one side of the coin let’s explore the drawbacks FTP offers.

  • The security check that requires a username and password can annoy multiple users as it is sent in a text to the users to access the file.
  • It’s hard to filter FTP connections using a local system, and you’ll find it difficult to track the details of the files uploaded on the remote device.
  • If you are not aware of the FTP interface, you can unknowingly or knowingly delete the data files, resulting in permanent serious information loss.

What is SMB?

Server Message Block or SMB is a protocol used by Windows based systems that enables them to share files with computers within the system.

It allows computers connected to a similar network to access files from each other similar to scrolling through the local drive. You can also share serial ports and printers from different computers within the same network.

For example, to print a file from your computer, but the printer is connected to a different device on the network, using SMB protocol, you can still print the document.

Initially, SMB was only equipped to work for devices based on the Windows operating system, but now it has expanded its horizons, and it can help in transferring files on platforms like Unix and macOS.

SMB is a client service communication protocol that enables the user to transfer data or information between the server and the client on request.

The client can request from the server its requirements, and the SMB server delivers services like folders, printer availability, and files, among others, to the network.

Let’s explore the features of SMB for better understanding.

Features of SMB

  • It provides a robust intercommunication framework for resources and files within the SMB server.
  • It enables the client to share, delete, edit files and browse the network and even print over the network.
  • Version 2 of SMB has minimal subcommands and commands to transfer a file over the network.
  • The symbolic links of SMB2 make it better than SMB1, which makes it an advanced version.

Pros of SMB

  • SMB is easy to use, and multiple operating systems can use SMB efficiently.
  • You can share files and resources across the network in no time.
  • It works with APIs, printers, file systems, and mail slots.

Cons of SMB

There are not many disadvantages to SMB, but let’s look at one.

  • The primary disadvantage of using SMB is that it should be used on the internet or the web. Since it is prone to cyberattacks, running it on LAN is the best option you have.

Now that we have discussed both, let’s spot the difference based on some criteria.

FTP vs SMB – What’s the Difference


Multiple criteria can be considered while differentiating the best transfer protocol between FTP and SMB. But we have picked up the most important criteria that can help you streamline your decision.


SMB can transfer data in both directions and can establish two connections for the data transfer that makes it reliable. You can get an enhanced performance with SMB data transfer when transferring small or medium files across the network.

SMB relies on a virtual network implementation that enhances its functionalities in the offering.


FTP is extremely fast and efficient compared to SMB when transferring large files. It can be difficult when it comes to small files, but overall, the speed of the FTP file transferring protocol is better.

The use of short messages in SMB makes it sensible to network latency, which can decrease the speed.


The security of SMB can be problematic when connected to the internet or web as it is prone to cyber attacks. On the contrary, FTP offers a secure file transfer ecosystem that keeps your data protected and can be accessed using a user and password.

The SMB is not friendly with the firewall, which can raise security concerns. But as you know, the password and the user name are sent in clear text in FTP, so you need to make a wise decision when choosing the transfer protocol.

FTP Alternatives

SFTP is a FTP over SSH alternative that comes from traditional FTP transfers but is very different due to application of SSH keys to the process. FTP is very weak when it comes to protecting data from vulnerabilities.  FTP solution is to use SFTP because SFTP offers a more secure way to connect to your server and transfer information.

FTP vs SMB – What’s the Difference Conclusion

Based on this information you can can make up your mind about which file sharing protocol to choose for your network.

We would suggest that you want if you want to transfer a small file on your network, or you want to give a quick command like print; you can choose SMB server.

But when it comes to large file transfers with your network ecosystem, using FTP is a faster and more reliable option to choose.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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