An SFTP Alternative to Improve Visibility and Productivity


SFTP traditionally has been the most common way to exchange files over the internet for years; but new technology advancements have made SFTP obsolete – and there are a number of factors that have led many businesses to turn to alternate solutions.

If you are currently using SFTP and looking for an alternative that provides visibility, control and automation while improving manageability – this blog takes a deep dive into what SFTP is, its attributes and gives you the info you need to consider replacing SFTP with a better file transfer solution.

What is SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)?

SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a method of securely transferring files from one computer to another over a network. Unlike FTP, which was developed in 1971, SFTP is secure because it encrypts files before transferring them. SFTP is a binary protocol in which all commands are packed to binary messages and sent to the server, which replies with binary reply packets.

What is File Transfer Protocol over SSL (FTPS)?

FTPS is another alternative to traditional FTP. Often mistaken with SFTP, FTPS is an extension to the commonly used FTP that adds support for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptographic protocols.

Why Replace SFTP or FTPS?

Both solve security issues, but without additional software, you usually have multiple discrete deployments with no central management and control — leading to many challenges that are not visible at the surface. Here are some driving factors for replacing them:

  • Lack of Visibility – When sending files via SFTP, the sender has no way to verify whether the recipient received or downloaded the file. If an error occurs, the sender will not be notified. Also, since SFTP doesn’t maintain an audit trail of system actions such as who downloaded or transferred files, organizations don’t have detailed proof of user actions.
  • Storage Overhead – SFTP does not allow senders to automatically expire or delete files. Files sit on the SFTP server until IT admins delete it, consuming significant storage space and incurring unnecessary costs.
  • Cumbersome Workflow – Managing SFTP is far from user-friendly. To send a file to a new contact, a new SFTP account needs to be set up — which puts additional overhead on IT administrators to create and manage user accounts. Since users do not have access to the SFTP server, they need to rely on the help of an IT Administrator to create new accounts, retrieve forgotten passwords and remove accounts for those who no longer require access.

Managed File Transfer (MFT): An Alternative to SFTP

MFT lets businesses replace SFTP servers and improve productivity. MFT can provide:

  • Visibility – Understand which files have and haven’t been delivered, and automatically receive alerts by text or email when there are issues.
  • Security and Auditing – Remain compliant with strict regulations by monitoring user actions, regulating access and securing corporate data. All data in transit and at rest is protected with encryption and antivirus scanning.
  • Automation – Reduce the time needed to design, deploy and monitor complex file transfer environments using Thru.
  • Ease of Management – Multiple SFTP deployments can be cumbersome and difficult to manage. MFT solutions support multiple protocols for organizations to manage all file transfers from a single point of control.
  • Automation – By choosing an automated file transfer solution, you can simplify workflows and tailor them to your use cases.

MFT is the most flexible alternative to SFTP in terms of deployment, integration and overall functionality. It easily replaces legacy SFTP servers and empowers your organization with simplified, secure file transfers from anywhere.

To further evaluate MFT to replace your SFTP servers, read our MFT Buyer’s Guide.

[Note: This post was updated from a post originally authored April 22, 2015]


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