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The Biggest Disadvantages and Advantages of FTP
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on August 21st, 2018

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The Biggest Disadvantages and Advantages of FTP

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Whether you’re running a law firm that needs to send large amounts of case data internally or you work at a healthcare company that needs a secure way to share patient data, file transfers are a big part of your daily work activities.

But, choosing the best methods for file transfers isn’t easy. There are a lot of options out there, from simply emailing files to coworkers or clients to using a more sophisticated methods like FTP (file transfer protocol). FTP, like any other solution has drawbacks and benefits, so it’s important that you understand FTP fully before making your decision.

Explore the disadvantages and advantages of FTP, and learn how these attributes impact your business.

 

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Disadvantages of Using FTP

Before you can determine if FTP is the best way for your business to transfer data, you need to know what the drawbacks of using this protocol are. Let’s explore a few.

FTP Lacks Security

FTP is inherently an non-secure way to transfer data. When a file is sent using this protocol, the data, username, and password are all shared in plain text, which means a hacker can access this information with little to no effort. For data to be secure, you need to use an upgraded version of FTP like FTPS or SFTP.

Not All Vendors Are Created Equal

To solve the problem of security vulnerabilities, businesses turn to hosted FTP solutions managed by vendors. Unfortunately, not all vendors stand up to the test of needed security, making it a challenge to choose the right one. Each competitor offers their own set of features, and many lack the features you actually need like access controls, security, usability, pricing options, etc.

Encryption isn’t a Given

While you can find a vendor that offers data encryption, there are many who fall short. FTP alone doesn’t provide any encryption, which is why transferred data is so easy to intercept. And, when you’re looking for a FTP provider, you’ll notice that encryption isn’t always offered or enforced. For businesses using sensitive data like card payment data or ePHI (electronic protected health information), encryption isn’t just nice to have for your FTP solution – it’s essential.

FTP can be Vulnerable to Attack

If you choose the wrong vendor, you could be stuck with a FTP solution that doesn’t protect your data, leaving you vulnerable to hackers’ tactics like brute force attacks or spoofing attacks. Brute force attacks are used by hackers to break into your solution by running through thousands of username and password possibilities in seconds. Eventually, they land on the right password/username combination, and they’re in.

FTP is also vulnerable to spoofing attacks, where the hacker poses as a legitimate user or device on the network. One common spoofing tactic is a man-in-the-middle attack. If you use a public Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop, a hacker could pose as the network and intercept your data. Depending on the type of FTP vendor you choose, you could be vulnerable to brute force or spoofing attacks.

Compliance is an Issue

You should also be concerned with compliance when using FTP to send files. FTP on its own or using a FTP vendor with inadequate security could leave your business at risk of noncompliance fines. If compliance regulations like HIPAA, ITAR, PCI-DSS, SOX, or GLBA apply to your company, you might struggle to find an FTP solution that helps you stay compliant. A lack of encryption plays a big role in noncompliance and its imperative you find a solution that meets your compliance needs.

It’s Difficult to Monitor Activity

Before you partner with an FTP vendor, you need to think about reporting requirements for your company. With many FTP solutions, you’ll face an inability to track or inconsistency in tracking what has been uploaded on the remote system. So, if files are mishandled or a data breach occurs, you may struggle to track the source of the problem. Numerous FTP options lack the access controls needed to ensure your employees align with file sharing best practices.

All of these drawbacks to using FTP can be solved by choosing the right FTP provider. When you do, you’ll avoid these disadvantages and reap the following advantages of FTP.

 

Advantages of Using FTP

As you look for the best way to share files, keep the following advantages of FTP in mind.

FTP is Capable of Large File Transfers

For many companies, your file transfer needs go beyond sending a single Microsoft Word document at a time. You might need to send hundreds of gigabytes of data all at once. FTP easily facilitates those large transfers, and you benefit from an increased rate of file transfers, as well.

Your Workflow is Improved

Using FTP allows you to transfer multiple directories at one time. If you regularly transfer files, you know how advantageous this feature can be. Instead of sending single files or even single directories at a time, you can send numerous directories all at once. You’re able to continue working while transfers are completed, and you can conduct these transfers faster.

Transfers can be Resumed

If your file transfer is interrupted, you don’t have to worry about losing progress. With FTP, you can resume an interrupted file transfer if your connection is lost. Pick up where you left off without restarting the transfer from the beginning.

Transfers can be Scheduled

Are you tired of interrupting your workday to transfer a large amount of data? Maybe you don’t have time to sit and wait as these transfers take place. With top FTP solutions, you can schedule transfers for times with minimal impact to your workflow, like overnight or on the weekend. Your productivity isn’t impacted, and these transfers are automated for your convenience.

Recover Lost Data

Top FTP providers make sure that data is never lost, even when unexpected events happen. With disaster recovery, your files are regularly and automatically backed up, so if there’s a flood, fire, or power outage, you don’t have to worry about losing data.

With so many disadvantages and advantages of FTP, how can you know if this is the right option for your business? The key to successfully using FTP is choosing the right provider. When you’re evaluating FTP providers, consider your needs carefully, and determine if they have safeguards in place to address the disadvantages of using FTP

So, if you’re worried about compliance being an issue as you transfer files via FTP, make sure you choose an FTP provider that offers data encryption and compliance guarantees. Or if you’re concerned about being vulnerable to a data breach, make sure to choose an FTP solution with security features like industry-best firewalls and encryption standards.

Ultimately, the right FTP vendor is the answer to all your file transfer needs. When you do your research and choose and option that addresses your concerns, you’ll easily benefit from all the advantages of FTP.

Do you want to choose the right FTP provider for your business? Download this free comparison guide for more information.

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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