SFTP Solutions Comparison Guide
How can you be sure to choose the right file sharing solution? Compare the top 5 FTP hosts!
Compare File Sharing Solutions Before Committing: Free Trials for Your Proof of Concept
Are you looking for a secure FTP hosting option or a file sharing solution that will fit your company's needs? A simple internet search will show you the sheer number of options available. How will you choose the right one?
A smart way to ensure you pick the ideal file sharing solution for your business is to schedule free trials, so you get a feel for the solution and its capabilities. This is called Proof of Concept (P.O.C.). It’s also wise to see how each solution stacks up against the competition.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of different secure file sharing solutions and their Free Trials to determine which one is ideal for your business. Here are the top players, listed alphabetically.
Accellion's file sharing platform is named “Kiteworks”, and they have a version targeted at Government named “Kiteworks Federal Cloud” -- not unlike FTP Today’s FTP Cloud and GOVFTP Cloud platforms.
Accellion has two different pricing options for Kiteworks:
- Business – $15 per month/per user
- Enterprise – Requires custom pricing
Pricing for Kiteworks Federal Cloud are likely significantly higher than the above.
- Accellion offers both in-house and cloud-based platforms and it includes features like collaboration.
- File upload size is limited to 2 GB for the Business plan and requires an upgrade to Enterprise in order to have an unlimited file size. This might not seem like a problem to some users, but if your company shares large amounts of data on a daily basis, a file size cap could be a huge impediment to your productivity.
- Accellion has bandwidth limits and storage limits depending on the plan you choose.
- Accellion limits to 500 users on the business plan (500 users = $7,500 monthly for limited feature access).
- To access most of their advanced features such as SSO, MFA, secure protocols like SFTP or SMTP you’re forced to go with the Enterprise plan. This means there is no compatibility with many current or legacy systems unless you choose their higher-level plans, which may be cost prohibitive for small to medium sized businesses.
Accellion does offer an extensive platform, but it also comes at a very high cost. Accellion might make sense if you have a large budget to pay for a modular solution, or if you prefer an on-premise solution to a cloud-based service. Just keep in mind that with an on-premise solution you are responsible for 100% of the controls and security surrounding whatever industry compliance you must meet. It is important to keep in mind that their on-premise solution was breached in late 2020.
14-Day Free Trial
Accellion has free trial access and stated pricing only on their business plan, making it impossible to try out their more advanced features.
How can you be sure to choose the right file sharing software?
A Guide to Choosing Between Top File Sharing Solutions
Box highlights app integration and collaboration as their features. They consider themselves a content management platform for companies of any size, but their customers are skewed primarily towards Mid-Market and Enterprise businesses.
Box has four different pricing options:
- Starter – $5 per month/per user
- Business – $15 per month/per user
- Business Plus – $25 per month/per user
- Enterprise – $35 per month/per user
Each of their plans other than starter can have an unlimited number of users but remember that you’re paying for each user at $15 - $35 monthly.
- Box’s integrations allow users to connect the solution with apps that they regularly use like Salesforce, Microsoft Office, and Slack.
- They offer unlimited storage for users with a Business plan or higher, but still limit file sizes.
- When you choose Box for your file sharing needs, you’ll be disappointed to find that file upload size is limited to 5 GB for the Business plan, and only 2 GB for the Starter plan. This might not seem like a problem to some users, but if your company shares large amounts of data daily, file size cap could be a huge impediment to your productivity. It would require you to break files up into multiple uploads, which could cause confusion when it comes to versioning.
- Regarding compliance, Box does not start meeting compliance needs such as PCI unless you are on their Business Plus plan, and to meet HIPAA or FedRAMP compliance you have to be on their most expensive Enterprise plan.
Box is a company more focused on an extensive list of collaboration features, but compliant file sharing will take you straight up to their most expensive per-user price point. However, where the integrations and sleek interface may draw in some users, the lack of practicality/usability may turn away others.
Trial Info: To try out Box, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial.
Citrix ShareFile is an Enterprise File Sync & Share (EFSS) solution where you can securely store, send and sync files. It is a good file-sharing program but an expensive one.
Citrix ShareFile’s pricing plan is similar to that of the other “pay per user” plans that many file sharing solutions utilize. They offer four cloud-based plans, all with a 5-user minimum:
- Standard – $55 per month, then $11 for each additional user
- Advanced – $85 per month, then $17 for each additional user
- Premium – $135 per month, then $27 for each additional user
- Virtual Data Room – $375 per month
- You must call if you need more users or storage
- Citrix ShareFile offers an unlimited amount of storage for each user.
- Citrix ShareFile is capable of sharing via Implicit FTPS or HTTPS.
- Citrix ShareFile user plans are specifically for “employee” users, and they allow an unlimited number of “guest/client” users. However, guest accounts have less capabilities and you may find that you need to pay "employee" seat licenses for many users that are not employees in order to get that added functionality.
- Citrix ShareFile limits the file size you can upload to your unlimited storage at 100GB.
- Citrix ShareFile does not have legacy protocols such as SFTP or FTP or Explicit FTPS (the current standard for FTP over SSL). You will need to go with a different option if this is a requirement of your organization. As proof of their misunderstanding of protocols they actually state in their website documentation that “Secure FTP” (SFTP) is the same as “FTPS.”
Citrix ShareFile focus on HTTPS and they state that there’s no reason to work with SFTP. However, those of us who need to automate file sharing via legacy protocols know this simply isn’t true. Limited protocol options causes Citrix ShareFile to be limited to basic compliances. They cover HIPAA, FINRA, and state bar associations. If you’re in need of U.S. government compliance requiring FedRAMP, then Citrix is not the choice for you.
Citrix offers a collaboration platform similar to Box, Dropbox, or Microsoft SharePoint and has left their legacy customers who need secure, fast file sharing behind by offering expensive advanced features such as Office 365 co-editing, Outlook & Gmail plugins, Encrypted email, and e-signature.
Trial Info: Citrix ShareFile offers a 30-day free trial of their solution with five user accounts.
Exavault is the low-cost option of the industry. This makes sense because they have built their own infrastructure on commodity hardware that they own themselves and they pay no one for anything but cabinet space and bandwidth.
They have four pricing plans with an escalating base price depending on your required storage, users, a file transfer limit, and a monthly bandwidth limit:
- Essential – $50 per month, 100GB of storage, 5 users, 100GB of monthly bandwidth
- Standard – $100 per month, 500GB of storage, 25 users, 1TB of monthly bandwidth
- Advanced – $250 per month, Minimum 1TB of storage, Unlimited users, Unlimited monthly bandwidth
- Enterprise – $750 per month, Minimum 1TB of storage, Unlimited users, Unlimited monthly bandwidth
- Access to the typical protocols: FTP, SFTP, FTPS, FTPeS, and HTTPS,
- Email notifications for a specific file
- White labeling capabilities (upgrade to their standard plan is required)
- An “embedded forms” feature allowing customers to embed a file upload section into their website.
- Exavault does not focus on compliance and they have a limited feature set.
- Only one customer can use a given username. For instance, the user “david” is taken and even your email address cannot be used to log in to more than one Exavault customer account.
- Every user only gets one folder, so if you want multiple employees or external users to have access to the same files, you have to upload those files into every user’s folder separately. In short, their permissions system is very inflexible.
If you strictly need to send files to one person at a time, then Exavault could be a good fit, and will likely be the least expensive. On the other hand, if you need a complex folder structure for different groups of users, with guaranteed security and compliance, you should look elsewhere.
Trial Info: To test Exavault for yourself, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Files.com (Formerly BrickFTP)
Files.com, formerly BrickFTP, is for teams that need cloud storage. They are built 100% on Amazon AWS and cheap, but durable, object storage.
Files.com plans start at $10 per month per employee and goes up from there based on the number of users and has USER MINIMUMS. If you need the Premier Plan features but only have 10 employees, you’re still required to pay for 50 employees and spend at least $1,000 per month.
- Starter Plan – $10 per month/per user, 1 TB of storage
- Power Plan – $15 per month/per user, 5 TB of storage
- Premier Plan – $20 per month/per user, 50-user minimum, 10 TB of storage
- Files.com is a file sharing option with a pricing model based on your company’s needs.
- They have an extensive library of “connectivity add-ons”.
- The flexible pricing based on your needs can also be quite complicated. Files.com has made a pivot towards collaboration, workflows, and automation over the past year. Flat-rate pricing has been replaced with seat licensing and minimums.
- Files.com’s “connectivity add-ons” may seem great at first but they drastically increase the product cost on a monthly basis.
- Files.com has no backup. They sacrifice actual file-level backup for “durability”. Nor do they have any Disaster Recovery infrastructure in place.
- Due to the complicated and time-consuming setup of their new collaboration, workflow and automation features, new and first-time users may face a lot of difficulty when first using files.com. This has led some of their customers to look for new, affordable, and more intuitive options.
If you’re looking primarily for secure FTP hosting, Files.com might not be the right option. They host their entire solution on an AWS public cloud and are focused on features, and not necessarily those with extensive security requirements.
Storage and how many employees you have are 2 of the largest factors in Files.com pricing. Their rates, like Box and Citrix ShareFile, are “per employee per month”. Combined with the connectivity add-ons these factors drastically increase your cost on a monthly basis while also requiring you to pay for a user minimum even if you don’t have that many users.
Trial Info: To experience Files.com for yourself, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial.
FTP Today offers the most security features in the industry. If your company deals with sensitive data, it’s important that you choose a secure file sharing solution with features like multi-factor authentication, encryption, Single Sign-On (SSO) integration, APIs, granular access controls, and more. FTP Today delivers all the security features you need to keep hackers out and your data protected.
FTP Today has chosen a scalable private cloud environment which allows them increased control over infrastructure security. FTP Today has flexible and affordable flat-rate pricing structures so you can get the most from your investment in this secure FTP hosted solution.With FTP Today, you can choose from five different monthly pricing options, with a 10% discount if you pay for an annual subscription upfront. FTP Today also has 2 different platforms: The FTP Cloud, and the GOVFTP Cloud. The right platform for you is depending on your compliance requirements, and I recommend contacting sales, or viewing their pricing page to determine the right fit for your organization.
FTP Cloud Pricing
The FTP Cloud has three plans with varying feature sets depending on your organization’s functional and compliance requirements:
- Basic – $100 per month for 10GB of storage (expandable to 100GB) and 25 users (expandable to 50 users)
- Essentials – $200 per month for 25GB of storage (expandable to 250GB) and 50 users (expandable to 150 users)
- Premium – $300 per month for 50GB of storage (expandable to 500GB) and unlimited users, with signed agreements for HIPAA and GDPR where applicable.
GOVFTP Cloud Pricing
The GOVFTP Cloud has two plans meeting an impressive array of controls needed to conduct business with the federal government or to increase your internal security posture with more advanced compliance controls:
- Elite – $350 per month for 25GB of storage (expandable to 250GB) and 50 users (expandable to 150 users)
- Ultimate – $500 per month for 50GB of storage (expandable to 500GB) and unlimited users
FTP Today also offers a Dedicated Server instance on both cloud platforms starting with 1TB of storage space, with a minimum 1-year commitment all the features of FTP Today’s advanced file transfer and file sharing applications.
Any business can find the perfect fit at FTP Today, regardless of the business size and file sharing compliance requirements. With this secure FTP hosting option, “unlimited” is a word you’ll hear often. FTP Today offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited connections, unlimited file size, and unlimited file sharing with each plan.
SmartFile is file storage solution meant for businesses not needing extensive compliance needs. They have a good feature list, howeverthese additional features come with some strings attached.
SmartFile offers 4 plans, 3 of which are cloud-based, and the plans are based on a “per user” pricing (by this point, you should be seeing an industry theme outside of FTP Today and Exavault).
The Business plan is not unlimited storage, but they don’t specify how much storage you receive. It is just$10 month per user, albeit for a very limited set of features.
SmartFile’s other two cloud-based plans increase in cost per user per month as the feature list climbs. The Business Unlimited plan cost is not disclosed. Cloud Plans
- Business – $10 per month/per user
- Business Plus – $15 per month/per user
- Business Unlimited – Call for Pricing
- FileHub – Call for Pricing
- This plan requires a custom quote based on your storage and setup requirements.
- FileHub – Call for Pricing
- SmartFile offers both a Cloud solution and an on-prem appliance called FileHub.
- File versioning feature is available with WebDAV enabled.
- Secure FTP hosting features like 256-bit encryption-at-rest and user expiration dates.
- If you require a signed legal document such as a HIPAA BAA, Business Unlimited is your starting point regardless of your storage or user needs.
- SmartFile only offers an SLA on higher tier plans. Although they offer file versioning with WebDAV, you’ll pay a 50% price increase per user in order to ENABLE WebDAV.
- Several features are only available with their on-prem solution such as Syslog auto-export, connectors, a higher tier support structure, and the appliance is “DR Ready” (meaning – you are responsible for integrating your own DR solution).
- With their on-prem solution, you miss out on integrations they hype up like Zapier. So, if WebDAV is a must have, and so is Zapier, you’re forced to pick between the two.
- SmartFile does not have automated purge features which makes the storage management by an administrator more difficult.
- Lastly, none of their plans include offsite backup of your files. You’ll have to use SmartFile’s API backup to automate it through your own infrastructure.
While SmartFile does offer some common, beneficial, secure FTP hosting features like 256-bit encryption-at-rest and user expiration dates, there are tradeoffs to using their solutions.
Trial Info: SmartFile offers a free 14-day trial of its software.
As you try out the different file sharing options available to your company, keep in mind that the security and flexibility of FTP Today can’t be beat. It’s the perfect file sharing solution for companies who are looking for both usability and data protection.
Learn more about how FTP Today stacks up against other secure FTP hosting options. Download this free comparison guide now.
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.