al Comparison: Buy vs. Rent an FTP Server

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Comparison: Buy vs. Rent an FTP Server
Brendon Ainsworth

By: Brendon Ainsworth on October 21st, 2021

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Comparison: Buy vs. Rent an FTP Server

Cyber and Data Security FTP Cloud FTP Solutions File Sharing Best Practices GOVFTP Cloud Secure File Sharing The Cloud

Organizations that regularly handle, store and share sensitive information often rely on file transfer protocol — FTP for short. These organizations — like law firms, financial institutions, medical providers, government agencies and others — are forced to make a decision. Is it better to buy vs. rent an FTP server?

There’s a clear answer to this question for organizations that need an FTP server to securely manage sensitive information and documents. Here’s a rundown of what FTP servers are used for, how they are different from HTTP servers, plus the costs and benefits to consider when debating whether to buy vs. rent an FTP server.

What is an FTP Server Used For?

FTP is a method for connecting two computers in the most secure manner for file transfers. FTP servers are used to facilitate the transfer of files across the internet while ensuring privacy.

When you need to send a file securely to another computer, you upload the files to the FTP server. The recipient can then download the files from the same FTP server. Again, this process ensures the utmost in security and privacy during the exchange.

The same process can be used in reverse. When you need to accept files securely from another computer, that computer’s owner can upload the files to the FTP server. You can then download the files securely.

You can imagine why this secure process is needed in specific industries. For example, manufacturing companies needing to share proprietary information would use an FTP server to ensure privacy. Law firms sharing sensitive case-related information would use an FTP server to ensure privacy. And businesses working with classified government documents would use an FTP server to communicate with relevant government agencies.

What’s the Difference? HTTP Server vs. FTP Server

When most people think of a server, they picture the servers used to store website-related files. These HTTP servers are accessed by users via the internet so that they can view websites via browsers. In short, an HTTP server is called by third parties so that they can access websites.

FTP servers are different in that they are used exclusively to transfer files between computers. Rather than storing coded files that browsers translate to serve websites to users, FTP servers allow for the secure upload or download of files.

The Cost of Buying an FTP Server

Before you start shopping for an FTP server, it’s important to consider the upfront and ongoing costs — and also to compare the costs when you buy vs. rent an FTP server.

If you want to buy an FTP server, be prepared to break out your checkbook. Here’s a list of the upfront costs you’ll incur when buying an FTP server:

  • Dedicated Hardware: You’ll need dedicated hardware for your file-sharing solution. Costs can vary significantly based on the size of your organization and its file-sharing needs, but you’ll pay at least $2,000 on the low end.
  • Operating Systems: Once you buy the hardware, you’ll wonder how to setup an FTP server. Start with an operating system, which allows you to run your FTP server. Again, you have options, and the cost can vary based on provider (and based on your organization’s unique needs). Plan to pay at least $500 on the low end.
  • FTP or SFTP Server License: One of the largest costs associated with buying an FTP server is the FTP server software license. Expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $6,000 for a license.
  • Business-Class Firewall: You’re likely investing in an FTP server because you have sensitive information to manage and share. To ensure this sensitive information remains private, you’ll also need a business-class firewall, which will cost $500 or more.
  • Battery Backup: If the power goes out at your location, so too will your FTP server — unless you have a battery backup. A battery backup ensures you won’t lose data and that your server will continue running during outages. It will cost about $500.
  • Storage Backup: Storage backup is essential if you want to prevent loss of data related to a breach, a natural disaster or myriad other threats. Storage backup will cost in the ballpark of $2,000.

You have more than just upfront costs when buying an FTP server. Here’s a look at costs related to the ongoing maintenance of an on-premise FTP server:

  • Software Maintenance and Upgrades: Software and maintenance upgrades typically cost about 25% of your upfront license fee. Expect to spend anywhere from $750 to $1,500 on maintenance and upgrades each year.
  • Business-Class Internet Package: Broadband with higher download speed than upload speed may work fine for staff email and web browsing, but hosting your own FTP server in-house will require something with a symmetric high speed like a T3 line. Those start at $3,000 per month. That's $36,000 per year just for adequate bandwidth to support your FTP server.
  • Salaried Staff: You’ll need to dedicate someone on your existing IT staff, or hire an FTP specialist, to manage your new server and ensure it runs around the clock. About 25% of a full-time IT specialist’s salary will go toward FTP server management — a total of $15,000 to $20,000 yearly.

That’s $8,500 to $11,500 upfront and $51,750 to $57,500 in ongoing yearly costs. There may be reasons for large, publicly traded companies operating worldwide to buy and manage their own FTP servers. But companies of all sizes can significantly reduce costs by renting an FTP server — while enjoying all the same benefits of owning FTP servers.

Compare Top Secure File Sharing Solutions

FTP Today has put together an in-depth comparison of top SFTP solution providers to give you a better idea of what solution is the right fit for your business. Check out our comprehensive comparison guide today!

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The Cost of Renting an FTP Server

The cost of renting an FTP server is measured completely differently. There’s no equipment to buy. There’s no need for backups on-site. And, though someone will need to administer the users and server settings, you don’t need to allocate any staff time to hardware, operating system and software maintenance. Believe it or not, the upfront cost of renting an FTP server is typically $0. When you rent an FTP server, your rent goes toward managed FTP hosting, support and training. But these costs are paltry compared to the ongoing maintenance associated with buying an FTP server. Expect to pay $1,200 to $6,000 per year to rent an FTP server depending on the features provided and storage requirements. Keep in mind, when you want to rent an FTP server, you get a discount by paying for a full year upfront (rather than month-by-month).

As a certain insurance commercial says: “You only pay for what you need.” You can upgrade storage as your workloads ebb and flow.

Why Renting an FTP Server is Your Best Option

Lower costs are just one of the many reasons why renting so easily wins the buy vs. rent an FTP server debate. In addition to significantly lower costs, you enjoy the following benefits when renting an FTP server:

  • Outsourced (and likely better) Security: Renting an FTP server makes compliance easy, and it also gives you controls for managing user access permissions. These controls greatly enhance the security of your organization’s sensitive information.
  • Access to World-Class Talent: Renting an FTP server makes it easy to collaborate with remote employees. Rather than hiring team members in your local area, you can look around the world for the best of the best — and rest assured that you can collaborate each day securely.
  • Data Loss Prevention: Renting an FTP server allows you to set links for expiration and to meter links by number of uses. It also lets you purge data that has already been transmitted on automated timelines. These features keep your server clean and can prevent your files from being accessed by unauthorized third parties.
  • Automation Opportunities: Managing an on-premise FTP server can be a highly manual process. When you rent an FTP server, you can automate tasks and free up your IT team’s time for high-value tasks.

We live in a world where fewer and fewer organizations are looking for on-premise solutions. Even larger organizations with the resources to buy and manage assets like FTP servers are seeking out third-party services for obvious reasons: They deliver flexibility, security, dedicated expertise and cost savings that simply aren’t available with on-premise solutions.

Where to Rent an FTP Server

Any organization handling sensitive files can rely on FTP Today for renting a secure, cost-effective FTP server. We offer 2 solutions to meet your needs:

  1. FTP Cloud: We built FTP Cloud for business-to-business sharing of sensitive files and documents. Get commercial-grade security and compliance with FTP Cloud.
  2. GOVFTP Cloud: We designed GOVTP Cloud for government agencies and contractors that work with government agencies. GOVFTP meets compliance requirements related to ITAR, DFARS, FedRAMP Moderate and DoD IL2.

Have questions about the buy vs. rent an FTP server debate? Our team is always here to help. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of renting an FTP server through FTP Today.

Are you ready to start sharing files with confidence? Learn more about FTP Today by scheduling a demo.

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About Brendon Ainsworth

Learner, Researcher, Customer-focused, and the Director of Sales for FTP Today. Brendon has successfully navigated multiple industries and has infrastructure certifications in GCP and AWS. He started his career in Oil & Gas business development and successfully transitioned to Rackspace as a Mid to Large enterprise technology consultant and then as a leader.

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