In the newest stable edition of the Chrome browser, version 95, the Chromium team has finally done it – FTP functionality is not only deprecated, but also removed from the core.
It took a long time for this to happen. A lack of support for encrypted connections in Chrome’s FTP implementation, along with a general lack of interest from the bulk of the browser’s users, and the availability of more capable third-party solutions, has resulted in the code being deprecated and eventually removed.
Chrome 72 disabled functionality for fetching document resources over FTP, Chrome 76 removed proxy support for FTP, and Chrome 86 included a setting to turn it off completely.
Between 76 and 86, Google experimented with deprecation, eventually retreating in the first half of 2020 in reaction to the pandemic and the increased strain faced by overworked IT teams. For the venerable protocol, though, the writing was on the wall.
By version 88, it had been disabled for all users but could still be enabled. The code that supported it has now been removed for good, albeit a little later than expected.
The protocol was dropped from Mozilla’s Firefox browser in July, and Apple’s Safari doesn’t seem to support it.
While Microsoft’s Edge browser is based on Chromium, there’s always Internet Explorer, which should suffice if you need some browser-based throwback file-transfer action. Even if Microsoft is set to snuff it out in most versions next year, few browsers deserve the vintage label as much as Internet Explorer.
FTP has sparked such debate since it is nearly 50 years old and comes from a simpler era when authentication was not as strict as it is today. More secure solutions (such as FTPS and SFTP) are now available, and Google and co. would prefer that customers use a dedicated transfer software rather than retain the code in the browser.
There are still a few FTP sites around (such as the US Census Bureau), but many now have file transfer options. The code’s final eviction from Chrome, which boasts a sizable userbase, signals that it’s time to move on.
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