From the previous blog, What is a TFTP Server?, we know that a TFTP is a file transfer protocol, running on UDP port 69 and typically used to transfer files to/from network devices. Now let’s take another look at TFTP and learn what to look for in a TFTP Server.
TFTP was first drafted in the early 1980′s in RFC 783 which specified a 16 bit Block number with 512 bytes or octets per data packet. As the result, the maximum file transfer using TFTP is 32MB’s. That was sufficient in the 80′s when it was proposed but as computing grown and technology advanced, 32MB’s became insufficient so in the 90′s a host of RFC’s were proposed and revised the TFTP Protocol to its current standard.
The latest of the TFTP related RFCs includes RFC 2347 (TFTP Option Extension) which provided the flexibility to negiotiate additional optional parameters and extends the capability of the orginal RFC and yet still be compatible with legacy software and/or devices implemented the earlier RFCs. It paved the way for others like RFC 2347 (TFTP Block Size Option) & RFC 2348 (TFTP Block Size Option).
RFC 2348 – TFTP Blocksize Option: Blocksize Option allows for the negotiation of the block size value to be in the range of 8 to 65,464 octets instead of the fixed 512 octets and extends the file size from 32MB’s to about 4GB’s (65,636 x 65,464).
RFC 2349 – TFTP Timeout Interval & Transfer Size Options: Timeout Interval Option specifies the amount of time a server will wait for an acknoledgement packet (Option Acknowledgement or OACK) before resend the previous packet. Transfer Size Option lets the receiving device knows how big the file is before the transmitting it. This is done to conserve bandwidth by making sure the receiving end can store the incoming data instead of blindly transmitting the data until the receiving end chokes on it. Some software like Pinkie also takes advantage of this option to calculate and report the progress of the file transfer thus providing a more responsive User Interface.
So in summary, when choosing your TFTP Server, you should choose one that can support Option Extension, Blocksize Option as well as Timeout Interval & Transfer Size Options. This can help you avoid potential issues when transferring firmware to network devices; especially to high end Cisco switches whose firmware tend to be larger than most others.
As a network tool, Pinkie has a multithreaded TFTP Server built-in and implemented all of the aforementioned RFC’s. It also does so in a unique One Window, One App architecture that can help reduce the desktop clutter, cut down the number of application you have to maintain and update. If you haven’t done so already, download Pinkie and try it out.