TFTP servers provide a simple, easy-to-use, and efficient way to connect to your network resources and make file transfers, install configurations and updates, backup resources, and so on.
It’s a great option over other variants like FTP because of its simplicity, speed, and other benefits, especially if you want to use it within your organizational network or home.
But what exactly is this TFTP?
And what do you mean by a TFTP server?
Let’s understand these concepts in detail, along with their benefits and use cases. This post will also enlist some of the best TFTP servers for Windows.
What are TFTP and TFTP Servers?
Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) or Trivial FTP is a simple version of the popular File Transfer Protocol (FTP) specified in RFC 1350.
TFTP servers make use of TFTP and are used for transferring smaller files from one system to another with the help of the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). You can also use a TFTP for backing up networks, booting your computer with no disk, and other purposes. TFTP servers find usage mostly in devices like routers, mobile phones, etc.
However, this protocol lacks built-in security controls; hence, it needs no authentication. This is also the reason why it is mostly used in internal networks.
Furthermore, it’s possible to compensate for lacking security by comparing the signatures of your transferred files with known keys or values. TFTP is ideal to use when your system’s CPU or memory capacity is not suitable for other protocols like FTP.
FTP vs TFTP
In FTP, you can transfer files from one system to another or from one host to another with TCP, and it works on port numbers 20 and 21. However, you might encounter certain issues like security or a different file directory or name while transferring files in different systems or hosts.
In TFTP, you can transfer data between a server and client without requiring FTP. Instead, it uses UDP. Its software is smaller and works on port number 69.
In addition, FTP is more complex than TFTP. Hence, if your usage is minimal, you can quickly get started with TFTP.
FTP includes many messages or commands, but TFTP uses just 5 messages.
FTP can be slower, but TFTP is faster.
FTP requires authentication for establishing communication; TFTP does not.
FTP is more suitable for remote users to download and upload files. On the other hand, TFTP is suitable for transferring configurations between network devices.
How does a TFTP server work?
Since the TFTP server works on port number 69 to establish a UDP connection, you must open a server socket on the server’s IP address over UDP port number 69. When the connection is established, the client will send the request to your server. These message requests are of different types that can be sent. Next, the TFTP server will divide this message into different blocks, each of 512 bytes. Also, every file’s last block is less than 512 bytes. It’s done to help the receiver interpret the message’s last block.
Furthermore, each block needs to be sent as a TFTP data request, while the remaining ones will be given a TFTP number. But you must ensure that each block is kept separately within a UDP message.
If the last block’s size is not less than 512 bytes (except the value is a multiple of 512), the user transmits another block consisting of zero bytes. This will indicate to the receiver that the data transfer is complete. Also, the TFTP server will start the checking and pausing protocol and send blocks one by one. This protocol will also require acknowledgment from the sender, and only then the next blocks will be sent.
However, if the acknowledgment is not received under a given period, the sender will again push out until it’s acknowledged.
Uses of TFTP servers
TFTP is useful in many use cases:
TFTP servers are used in a device bootstrap process to enable downloading configuration files and operating systems. In addition, it’s possible you copy a configuration file between two nodes, provided it’s on the same network.
Furthermore, devices that acquire the IP address via the Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) can utilize this TFTP protocol to easily download configuration files and bootstrap images. Plus, you can use TFTP with FTP for different purposes, like FTP to load a system image and TFTP for boot image loading.
Small file transfers
You can transfer smaller files in a LAN network with the help of UDP. It needs fewer network resources and is easier to send firmware updates and files to network devices. You can even conserve network resources by easily updating your firmware and devices.
TFTP is widely used in network administration in larger intranets. Since it does not require authentication and can be sensitive to attacks, organizations use it in their network internally to transfer data, send updates, and so on. This way, only their internal team and members can utilize the services while remaining secure from the outer world (internet), which is open to all.
Homes require smaller data transactions or sending files and updates. This is why TFTP is suitable in home settings. It will help you keep your personal data secure by reducing the exposure and attack surface.
But if you need to transfer large files between non-compatible operating systems, you can use a TFTP client and server.
Why use TFTP servers?
TFTP servers are effortless to use for network administrators and engineers. It helps them easily connect to your network resources, troubleshoot issues, manage them, and back up and update them on time. In addition, even if something fails, you can replace the hardware and upload the configuration easily.
TFTP servers can help you push out firmware updates directly to different devices from a central location. This implies that you don’t need to spend hours doing just one task; instead, you can use a TFTP server to automate the complete process.
As compared to FTP, TFTP servers are relatively faster. You can connect to your network resources faster and perform your work like making updates or transferring files at an improved speed. This helps increase the productivity of your engineers and admins.
So, are you ready to grab these benefits?
If yes, here are some of the good options for TFTP servers.
Get a TFTP server from SolarWinds for free to enable secure and reliable file transfers. It is an easy-to-use and powerful solution to take care of all your file transfers.
You can easily push configuration updates, OS images, backup config files, and firmware and transfer your files up to 4GB. With this solution, you can transfer files concurrently from multiple systems without any confusion or error. In addition, it can authorize transfers from a specific IP address or a range of IP addresses.
It’s possible to run these TFTP servers as a Windows service. It will simplify and secure your network transfers and helps you control change management and network configurations with ease. This award-winning TFTP solution by SolarWinds is 100% free for basic features like device firmware and OS updates and backup network configurations.
However, if you want to leverage advanced features, its cost starts at $1,738. It will include:
- Advanced versioning, search, and device configuration backups
- Advanced device configuration script and template management
- High scalability with multiple user administration
- Configuration audit
Start a 30-day free trial to know how it works, or gets started with the free version.
If you are looking for a service-based always-on tool to secure and ease file transfers in your network, the TFTP server by WhatsUp Gold is a good option. Whether you want to transfer your configuration files or system files, you can use this free solution.
This easy and performing solution will help you save your effort and time while downloading and uploading files. In addition, you can utilize it to transfer your device configuration files and OS software across your devices and computers across your network.
WhatsUp Gold TFTP servers will enable you to back up your complete environment easily. It comes with many features such as:
- Backup of network configs
- Browsing devices
- Copying data in the network
- Uploading configs back to your devices across the network
- Supports Windows Vista, XP, and others
This simple software is easy to use for administrators to handle existing equipment within their network. This also helps ensure that if a network or router switch fails, you can easily replace the hardware with a similar one and upload the configuration to the system. It has a clear, resilient, and visually appealing GUI-based interface.
haneWIN TFTP Server
haneWIN TFTP server is a multithreaded RFC 1350-based server that offers high reliability and performance for data transfers. It’s implemented as a Windows solution and supports different Windows versions. The server includes the TFTP multicast operation specified under RFC 2090.
The TFTP server includes a unique, intuitive control panel to access all the services. You can also directly receive data into other applications with the help of a pipe option. haneWIN TFTP supports both legacy and current Windows versions from XP to 10. You can also run it in the background as a service on Windows 95, 98, and 2000 without even logging in.
haneWIN TFTP server offers data security for profiles depending upon requested operation, file directories, and IP address that the server uses. In addition, configure your server for data transfer via different UDP ports based on your network traffic and firewall settings.
Tftpd64 is a 64-bit Windows-based French utility package with a performing TFTP server. It is a lightweight, free, and open-source IPv6-ready application with a TFTP client and TFTP servers. It also includes DHCP, SNTP, DNS, and Syslog servers.
The TFTP server and client both fully support TFTP options like timeout, blocksize, and tsize, allowing the highest level of performance for data transfers. It also includes some extended functionalities such as security running, directory facility, interface filtering, etc.
In addition, early acknowledgments and progress bars increase the throughput and usefulness of the TFTP protocol for the TFTP server and client. Also, the DHCP server includes unlimited static or automatic assigning of IP addresses.
You can implement Tftpd64 as a Windows service as well. It is identical to its other variant, Tftpd32, which is compiled as a 32-bit application.
Open TFTP Server
Open TFTP is a multithreaded TFTP server for Windows/Unix. This open-source freeware runs a service or daemon. You can also get its single port version.
This TFTP server supports almost every industry-standard feature, total size (tsize), interval time, block size, block number rollover for large files, process owner except root, and more. It’s also useful for extensive logging and historical logging.
Sourceforge’s TFTP server can define server ports and interfaces and supports client port ranges. It leaves smaller footprints and is suitable for system administrators and other advanced end users.
If you are looking for a simple, faster, and effortless solution to send files, install updates and configurations, or boot your device, TFTP is a good solution. It’s best for local networks and intranets since it requires no authentication and is easy to use for your administrators and engineers.
Thus, you can choose any of the above-mentioned TFTP servers based on your preferences and benefit from its features and functionalities.