Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)

Trivial File Transfer Protocol technology for transferring files between network devices and is a simplified version of FTP (File Transfer Protocol). This protocol is similar to FTP but supports much lesser features and hence comes with a smaller footprint.

TFTP provides the fast file transfer, as it uses UDP as the transport layer protocol, lesser code size or footprint and Ascii and binary modes of file transfer. TFTP does not provide authentication and not support a rich set of the user interface. TFTP was first standardized in the year of 1981 and the current specification for the protocol can be found in RFC 1350.

TFTP is used during device bootstrap process for downloading device OS/firmware and configuration files. It is normally used for copying a bootstrap and configuration files between nodes belonging to the same LAN.

How TFTP Works

Like File Transfer Protocol, TFTP uses client and server software to make connections between two devices. From a Trivial File Transfer Protocol client, individual files can be copied (uploaded) to or downloaded from the server. The TFTP uses UDP for transporting data.


TFTP can also be used to remotely start a computer and backup network or router configuration files.

TFTP was primarily designed to read or write files by using a remote server.  TFTP is a multi-purpose protocol that can be do following task,

  • Transferring files
  • Remote-booting without hard drives
  • Upgrading codes
  • Backing up network configurations
  • Backing up router configuration files
  • Saving IOS images
  • Booting PCs without a disk

TFTP Protocol Transfer Modes

There are three modes of transfer currently supported by TFTP protocol:

  1. netascii
  2. octet
  3. mail

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