What Is FTP? What’s the Best FTP Server for Mac?

By Tek-Tools on May 27, 2020

Before IT professionals start using an FTP server on a Mac, they should know the answers to the following questions to help keep sensitive business data secure and enhance their efficiency.

What Is FTP?

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a protocol designed to help transfer large files, including webpages and documentation, over a network. It can also be used to download, upload, and copy files from the internet to the host system. FTP uses TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), a protocol used to execute commands, so users can easily share and transfer large files. Several businesses rely on FTP to share high-quality, business-related videos; PowerPoint slides; high-definition images; and more. Although Mac offers a built-in file transfer option, IT professionals still prefer using a robust tool to share and transfer files.

How Does FTP Work?

FTP is also known as a client–server protocol, as it depends on two types of communication channels. A control connection channel is used for sending and receiving commands and responses. In some cases, the user needs to log in to the FTP server to establish a connection; in others, the content is available without logging in. These servers are commonly known as anonymous FTP. Another communication channel is a data connection used for the distribution of content, such as transferring files and folders on a network. This type of FTP session can be established in active or passive mode. In active mode, the server initiates the data connection with the client once the client has established a connection on the command channel. In passive mode, the client initiates the data connection with the server. Businesses often prefer passive mode over active.

What Are the Risks of Using a Low-Quality FTP Server?

Organizations are often drawn by FTP’s ease of use and cost-effective plans. However, choosing an unreliable FTP server may lead to several risks and threats, which are outlined below. It’s always advisable to invest in a secure and reliable FTP client solution, and this solution should help you efficiently transfer large files and folders.

Unreliable File Transfers

Several free or built-in FTPs face challenges in transferring large files. They don’t include advanced FTP features such as setting alerts, automation, determination, and more. Therefore, organizations can’t rely solely on FTP for data sharing purposes. Managed file transfer (MFT) or modern FTP solutions are the best tools for transferring large files, as they trigger alerts, rectify problems occurring during file transmission, and automatically retry file transfer if there’s a failure.

Insecure Encryption

FTP has no encryption, which means the mission-critical data transferred using FTP is at risk and open to network sniffing. Organizations using open-source FTP solutions or built-in FTP tools requiring an ID and password are at a higher risk of data theft. Mac FTP servers are also subject to attacks capable of altering communication between systems and injecting them with malicious viruses or malware downloaded unknowingly by the user. Using a premium FTP solution helps protect organizations’ data through encryption and other security standards.


Open-source and built-in FTP servers don’t provide the level of auditing required to meet compliance standards for data security regulations. They don’t provide administrators with visibility into the issues occurring during file transfers. To avoid such risks and troublesome situations, organizations should invest in an advanced and robust FTP solution capable of saving them time and money.

Why Should You Use Modern FTP Tools for Transferring Files on Mac?

Third-party or modern tools like SolarWinds® Serv-U® FTP Server and MFT Server help organizations transfer data quickly, securely, and efficiently. Third-party tools are suited for organizations looking to meet industry regulations and compliance needs for HIPAA and PCI DSS. Consider choosing an FTP server for Mac capable of providing the following:

Enhanced Efficiency

Using third-party tools, users can transfer multiple files simultaneously without the need for individual uploads and downloads. Third-party tools like Serv-U FTP Server can handle large file transfers easily. Many FTP servers are also equipped with intuitive web and mobile interfaces to give you a quick view of the status of transferred files or ones currently undergoing transmission. Drag-and-drop features and the ability to add users and groups are additional third-party offerings capable of driving efficiency and improving business communication.


Some third-party FTP servers offer automation, which means users can add and delete files and change file names, usernames, login IDs, and passwords even after they’ve been transferred. They also offer an optional “web file transfer client” feature or a plug-in designed to help users easily send multiple files.

Greater Security

A reliable FTP server for Mac offers file encryption using TLS or SSL cryptographic protocol and the FTPS protocol to transfer larger files. It should be designed to protect data from accidental exposure and malicious operators, and it should ensure data is transferred securely over IPv4 and IPv6 and not stored in DMZ to meet compliance needs.

FTP Monitoring and Management

Some FTP server tools offer unique capabilities, such as file transfer monitoring, storage, the ability to change access permissions, and statistics. Their premium plans also offer intuitive, real-time dashboards providing FTP server logs. Users can block timed-out IP addresses, enable different settings, set alerts for file transfer issues or data security threats, and set limits on the number of server sessions.

Which FTP Tool Is the Best for Mac?

screenshot of solarwinds serv-u's session statistics report

SolarWinds® Serv-U® FTP Server is a simple, easy-to-use, and efficient data sharing tool. It’s capable of transferring large/multiple files over the web or mobile devices using FTP and FTPS, and users can seamlessly manage, administer, and control file access permissions. Serv-U FTP Server can help you avoid bandwidth throttling and storage consumption risks by setting file transfer limits, and it provides a customer support portal where users can post their queries, submit help desk tickets, find information from the knowledge base, see available quick fixes, and upgrade the server when necessary. You can download a fully functional 14-day free trial here.

Need to transfer files more securely while meeting compliance requirements? Serv-U MFT Server is built to support FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and HTTPS to secure sensitive data, and it can help you meet compliance requirements for policies such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, FISMA, and SOX. Serv-U MFT also offers a 14-day free trial.

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