When to Use SFTP
Do you need to transfer a file, but you’re unsure of the best way to share it with the intended recipient? While you may have an understanding of the difference between FTP and SFTP, it can be tricky to apply that knowledge to your real-world file transfers and choosing a file transfer solution.
You might be asking yourself when to use FTP, when to use SFTP, or if there’s really a difference at all. Continue reading to learn when to use SFTP and how using this option helps your business.
When You Need to Protect Your Data
When it comes to protecting data, it’s hard to beat a SFTP solution. To put it simply, FTP is the most basic form of file transfers, and while it’s a common option, it doesn’t provide the security that your business probably needs. So, if your business has any data that needs to be protected, like healthcare records or card payment data, turn to an SFTP solution to keep that data out of unauthorized hands.
SFTP solutions provide a number of data protections so transferred data stays secure. Unlike regular FTP data transfers, SFTP solutions transfer data using a SSH (secure shell) connection. While a file transfer via FTP leaves the data easily readable by anyone who accesses it, data transferred by SFTP is scrambled and cannot be intercepted while in transit between the sender, the SFTP server and the recipient.
File transfers using SFTP run on the secure shell protocol, which defaults to port 22. SSH encryption the data itself, usernames, passwords and all the commands being issued, all of which are vulnerable if you use the FTP protocol to send data. Why does this matter? While other file sharing protocols like FTP use many different ports for file transfers, SFTP only uses the single, encrypted port. Keeping all traffic on port 22 makes SFTP far more firewall friendly than FTP or FTPS.
So, if you’re wondering when to use SFTP over FTP, the answer is simple – whenever you need to keep data secure.
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When You Need to Protect Your Business
When you transfer files using FTP, there’s more than just your data at risk. Today, a single data breach can cost millions of dollars and an untold amount of damage to your company. One study found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million, a number that can skyrocket depending on amount of data that is stolen. So, to protect your business against the high costs of a data breach, using SFTP is the best choice.
You should also remember that the cost of a data breach can drastically increase if your company fails to meet the applicable compliance standards. So, if you’re a company that deals with healthcare records, a data breach could violate HIPAA compliance standards, leading to fines, lose of business, or even jail time. Make sure you’re choosing a SFTP solution that offers features meets to your compliance requirements, so you don’t have to face the consequences of noncompliance.
Many companies can’t afford to shell out thousands or millions of dollars in noncompliance fines or lost business. Ultimately, SFTP solutions protect more than your data; they protect your business, as well.
When You Need Enhanced Scalability
It’s hard to predict what your data needs will entail from one quarter or year to the next, which is why scalability is such an important feature to look for in a SFTP solution. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice security for convenience. With a cloud SFTP solution, you get the best of both worlds.
Many companies make the mistake of biting off more than they can chew by building their own file sharing solution. While this might seem like a good idea upfront, you incur a lot of ongoing costs to keep your solution running and to ensure you meets your company’s growing or diminishing needs. For example, if your company grows exponentially in a single quarter, you’ll need to invest in more hardware, faster software, and faster internet so your in-house SFTP can keep up with the growth. When you use a cloud SFTP solution, all of those increases are managed by the provider.
With a cloud SFTP, you’re able to scale your solution in the following ways.
- Unlimited Bandwidth – Bandwidth limitations prevent you from doing your job with uninterrupted efficiency. Choosing a SFTP provider with unlimited bandwidth means you can transfer an unlimited number of files each month via an unthrottled connection. So, if you’re in hurry to conduct a transfer, you won’t be slowed down because your bandwidth is limited.
- Unlimited Simultaneous Connections – Have you ever been logged into a shared software account, only to be booted off when someone else needs to log on? Look for a top cloud SFTP provider that offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, so everyone that needs to be logged in and sharing files can do so at the same time. And, because you don’t know if you employee numbers will double in the next year, unlimited means you won’t face impediments as you grow.
- Unlimited File Sizes – Some companies work with massive amounts of data. Even if you aren’t transferring huge files now, you might in the future. And, being stopped mid-transfer because the file size isn’t supported can seriously impact productivity. Find a SFTP cloud solution without limits to the size of files you can transfer.
- Instant Scalability – If you need to increase your number of user accounts, a top SFTP solution can add them instantly. This helps you manage your productivity (there’s no wait for new users to get started) and you can manage your costs (you can decrease accounts as needed, too.) That way you only pay for what you actually use.
Using SFTP is the best way to protect your data and your business. And a cloud SFTP solution ensures your future file sharing and storage scalability needs will be met. When it comes to using SFTP, it’s better safe than sorry. To be frank, the only time you shouldn’t use SFTP is when it’s fine for your data to be accessible by parties other than the intended recipient.
There’s no downside to increasing your security and ensuring your solution is scalable to fit your needs. As you search for a cloud SFTP solution, keep these security and scalability features in mind.
When you’re looking for an file sharing solution, it’s hard to choose between numerous options. Use this free comparison guide to make your choice easier.
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.