How to Automate SFTP File Transfers


The average IT team spends 44% of their time on manual tasks that “keep the lights on,” according to the Dynatrace 2020 Global CIO Report. If your IT team manually transfers files, there’s a better way.

automating sftp file transfers

In this blog post, I’ll explain what SFTP automation is and the benefits of using a managed file transfer (MFT) solution to automate SFTP file transfers.

What Is SFTP Automation?

SFTP automation includes methods to automatically transfer files with SFTP. This can be accomplished with

  • Scripts written and maintained in-house
  • Scripts written by a third party
  • Free or open-source software
  • MFT solution

Scripts to Automate SFTP File Transfers

There are many disadvantages to using scripts to automate file transfers. Creating new file transfer connections and troubleshooting is time-consuming. Worst of all, if the scripts aren’t documented properly, employees who leave take a lot of knowledge with them.

Free or Open-Source Software to Automate SFTP File Transfers

Using free or open-source software comes with its own risks:

  • What if the company behind the software stops offering it or starts requiring payment?
  • If the software is poorly written, excess time may still be spent troubleshooting and correcting the problems.
  • If the company is not credible or if the software is lacking, your files may not be safe from hackers or other exploits.

MFT to Automate SFTP File Transfers

The easiest and most efficient option for SFTP automation is MFT. If you’re not familiar with it, modern MFT technology has everything related to file transfers in one place. “Everything” means

  • File transfer workflow creation
  • Partner onboarding
  • Activity logs
  • Alerts
  • Multilevel security

Benefits of Automating SFTP File Transfer with MFT

The top 3 benefits of using MFT to automate SFTP file transfers are

  1. More efficient process to transfer files
  2. Less complexity to set up file transfers
  3. Tailored for your use cases

1. More efficient process to transfer files

Automation removes the human factor that incurs more time and more likelihood of errors:

  • Faster Onboarding – Add internal teams and partners to workflows in less than 30 minutes.
  • Easier Maintenance and Scaling – Eliminate server setup and maintenance costs with a cloud MFT solution that auto-scales.
  • Simpler Monitoring – When something goes wrong, receive an automatic alert with the reason it happened. Fix the issue in minutes.

2. Less complexity to set up file transfers

By choosing to do custom integration and custom file transfers, your organization has all its eggs in one basket. If the person managing the solution leaves, your team will struggle to maintain it and troubleshoot.

With MFT, everything you need is in an online portal. Your IT team can learn to use it in a few hours and get support as needed.

3. Tailored for your use cases

These file processing features are readily available to support your use cases:

  • Trigger or semaphore files – Avoid sending a batch of files too early.
  • Scheduling – Choose how often the system should check for files.
  • File name filters – Include or exclude certain file types.

How to Automate an SFTP File Transfer Using Thru

Thru is a no-code cloud MFT service, so you don’t need to manage hardware or scaling. Everything you need is in an online portal.

Before getting started, here are three terms to know:

  • Flows
    Unlike traditional file- or folder-based file transfer systems, Thru is flow-based. A flow is a pathway created to transfer files between endpoints. You can modify flows at any time by adding or removing organizations or endpoints.
  • Organizations
    Organizations represent groups of people you want to send files to. They can represent internal teams (your accounting or marketing teams) or other companies. In Thru, organizations are independent from flows. Flows don’t have a limit on how many organizations you can add.
  • Endpoints
    Endpoints are exactly what they sound like. They define where the files will be picked up and dropped off. Organizations can have multiple endpoints. Because Thru can act as a client or server, you have the flexibility necessary to satisfy business or security requirements.

5 Steps to SFTP Automation

Here’s how to automate SFTP file transfers in Thru:

  1. Create organizations
  2. Create enterprise and partner organizations.

  3. Add SFTP client and/or server endpoints
  4. Click into each organization and create an endpoint: Name it and pick a type. Add the necessary credentials.

  5. Create a flow and add organizations
  6. Create and name the flow. Add organizations. You can subscribe as many organizations as you need because of how Thru is designed.

  7. Add source and target flow endpoints
  8. Choose specific source and target flow endpoints to add from the subscribed organizations.

  9. Test and then begin transfers with monitoring
  10. Now you can start transferring files! If something goes wrong, you’ll receive automatic email or text alerts, including the reason for the alert so you can quickly fix it.

Onboard Partners Up to 8x Faster

Crocs’ IT team shaved down their 2-4 hour partner onboarding time to under 30 minutes with Thru.

What could your IT team do with 3 extra hours per new partner?

If you’d like to see how Thru can help your IT team, please contact us.



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