Fast file transfers over the internet have become the backbone of much of the work we do today. Every day, millions of file transfers occur between millions of people, facilitating collaboration across floors, buildings, and countries. To keep these transfers going smoothly, organizations turn to file transfer tools. These tools are designed to simplify the process for secure file transfers by leveraging file transfer protocol software.
Of course, not all these file transfer tools are created equal. Some are naturally better suited to certain types of organizations than to others. Before you can determine which tool is best suited for your needs, it’s important to first understand what exactly your needs are and what type of file transfer protocol software best suits those needs.
If you feel confident you already know what you’re looking for in a solution for easier file transfers over the internet, you can skip ahead to the list of – in my opinion – the best file transfer tools here:
File Transfer Protocols and Security
Several different types of file transfer protocols can be used for a file transfer over internet connections. Some of these are more secure than others, meaning the right protocol for each organization will depend largely on the type of information you’re sending over the internet.
File transfer protocol (FTP) is the basic, old-school way to approach a file transfer over the internet. It typically works using a command prompt window that pops up in a user interface or a web browser. FTP file transfer software is often appealing because it lets you transfer large files as well as videos, legacy data, and other unusual file types. It’s also typically easy to use and either free or inexpensive. The real cost emerges when it comes to security. There’s no problem with using FTP if all you need is to occasionally send large non-sensitive files. But if your organization needs to transfer sensitive information through a fast file transfer over the internet, FTP file transfer software is unlikely to be the best fit.
Two other popular, more secure file transfer protocol options are Secure FTP (SFTP) and FTPS—two separate protocols with a more secure file transfer process than \ regular FTP. While FTPS is built off FTP, adding a layer of security to that basic protocol, SFTP is built off of the Secure Shell (SSH) network protocol. It differs from both FTP and FTPS in that it only uses one connection and encrypts both the data files and the authentication information being transferred to offer additional security.
If you’re looking for an even more secure file transfer solution—as any organization with sensitive information should—then the best file transfer protocol software to use is one that leverages managed file transfer (MFT). MFT lets organizations meet more use cases than the other standard protocols. It’s designed to be reliable, efficient, and, above all, secure. It includes additional layers of management and security as compared to the other protocols, including encryption of your data at all stages of the transfer process. While MFT supports FTP and SFTP, it supports other file transfer protocols as well, meaning it’s designed to get your data to its destination securely.
When it comes to more secure file sharing, MFT is the best option for a fast file transfer over the internet. From multi-factor authentication, to encryption, to automated deletion, and more, MFT implements protocols to help ensure your sensitive data is transferred safely.
MFT: The Best Choice for Large Organizations and Large Files
Nowadays, transferring large files over the internet has become essential for practically every organization (especially large ones). To transfer these files, you need to invest in file transfer protocol software that leverages either FTP or MFT to transfer the files more safely. Without this software, you’ll likely have to resort to ad hoc methods of transferring files, including file compression and cloud services like Google Drive — neither of which offer a great deal of security.
If you invest in an FTP or MFT remote server, you’ll worry less about security, plus you’ll get additional benefits that make the server a great fit for large organizations. The benefits of an MFT server like SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server include:
- Data security: MFT file transfer protocol software monitors your data transfers in real time, both when they’re in transit and at rest, and offers intensive validation security policies to help prevent failed transfers or data breaches.
- Data growth: The amount of data moving across the internet is constantly increasing, as is the number of users, endpoints, and devices all sharing data. By using an MFT server for large file transfers, organizations can help ensure they’re prepared for this ongoing data growth.
- Technology trends: Everything from big data, to the Internet of Things (IoT), to data analytics, to artificial intelligence is changing the way we work and placing a bigger premium on achieving a fast file transfer over the internet. By offering advanced capabilities that support multiple platforms, applications, mobile devices, and more, MFT servers can help organizations keep pace with these changing trends.
- Regulatory compliance: Every organization needs to content with legislative and industry requirements. These standards typically have stringent data security requirements. One of the best ways to demonstrate compliance is with a configured MFT system that monitors, transmits, encrypts, and stores data. In fact, to qualify as an MFT, a product is required to offer auditing and logging to help demonstrate compliance.
- Simplicity: A quality MFT server solution is designed to help make secure file transfers simple for anyone in your organization by letting your users request and send files from anywhere at any time.
No matter the size of your organization or whether you have plans to grow, you should invest in quality software FTP file transfer software to ensure you are able to transfer files of all sizes across your team members.
The Best FTP File Transfer Software
1. SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server
SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server (Serv-U MFT) is an FTP server option that is designed to deliver high security levels to your managed file transfer process. The service enables a variety of file transfer protocols, including FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and HTTP/S encryption for unlimited users, domains, and sessions. Even better, it allows for both internal and external file sharing—and it tracks transfers to and from external systems. You can download, upload, and edit files (both large and small) from anywhere at any time using familiar procedures like drag and drop. You can either enable or disable individual devices or ciphers based on individual security requirements for each file or user.
One of the great features of Serv-U MFT is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy for anyone within your organization to share or request files. You don’t need any IT expertise to access controls tied to folder permissions, systems and groups, IP, bandwidth, lockout, passwords, time-of-day, and more measures designed to help ensure the security of your transferred files. Serv-U MFT’s file transfer features can work with either IPv4 or IPv6 addresses (or both), and they can be integrated into automated processes.
Administrators can create individual user accounts for accessing files. This is particularly important since Serv-U MFT logs every action on your shared files and records the user involved. All these features—including logging—are valuable for any organization that needs to comply with data protection standards including HIPAA, SOX, GDPR, and PCI DSS.
You can try a fully-functional trial of Serv-U MFT free for 14 days.
Files.com uses FTP, SFTP, and FTPS encryption with key authentication to encrypt data in transit and at rest for secure file transfers. You can access the service either through a web browser or through a mobile or desktop application. Once on Files.com, you can send secure file links to members of your organization through emails protected by unique security codes. The platform lets you create user-level IP address permissions and restrictions, so you can help ensure no one has more access to sensitive information than they need.
Files.com is a Microsoft Office cloud storage partner, meaning it’s built to support real-time collaboration using applications like Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Files.com can also be integrated with cloud applications like Dropbox, Google, Amazon, and more if you want. The service also lets you securely store your files on the 1,000 GB of storage space that comes with each account.
Try Files.com free for 7 days.
3. FTP Today
FTP Today is a hosted secure file transfer system that leverages different file transfer protocols (specifically FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and HTTP/S) to encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest. FTP Today records all activities and attributes them to individual accounts, so you can always keep track of how individual users are interacting with sensitive documents.
Each customer of FTP Today can access a private cloud. While each organization gets its own private space on the FTP Today server, the software system also runs some larger processes tied to security as part of the larger FTP Today server.
In addition to the security processes in place for all users like firewalls and an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) designed to protect your data from theft or disclosure, the administrator dashboard also gives businesses the option to tighten their security even further. Added restrictions like geofencing or access restricted to specific devices or IP addresses can help ensure sensitive data stays in the right hands.
You can schedule a free demo of FTP Today to see the platform for yourself.
4. Citrix ShareFile
Cloud-based platform Citrix ShareFile hosts a secure file transfer software with a managed file transfer (MFT) service. All Citrix ShareFile plans come with unlimited storage space on the Citrix cloud server. This gives your users the flexibility to create common file folders that can be secured, stored, and forwarded for easier file distribution and collaboration.
The ShareFile FTP server leverages its own version of FTPS for its file transfers. It can transfer files as large as 100 GB in size. Based on the subscription level you invest in, you can access added features like integration with Office 365, Outlook, and Gmail.
When you use ShareFile in conjunction with an email system, ShareFile can upload and store any of your attachments or files and insert a link for secure access to help ensure only the desired recipient can access the sensitive information you share. Senders can also decide which type of access to offer individual recipients. For example, some may get read-only access, while other recipients may be able to download the file.
You can try Citrix ShareFile free for 30 days.
While ActiveBatch is primarily a workflow automation and job scheduling tool, it also includes a secure file transfer system that can be installed as a virtual appliance, for a private cloud installation, or on Windows. Because of its primary function, ActiveBatch makes it easy to integrate your file transfers into your workflows to automate tasks.
ActiveBatch lets you create reusable modules you can set up with a secure file transfer process one time and then schedule for regular execution. This means you can automate various admin tasks like transferring your files to an archive. Plus, once you’ve created a module in one workflow, you can call it from other workflows.
ActiveBatch offers a user-friendly interface and a system useful for file distribution, file sharing, syncing, and backup. While there’s no free trial of ActiveBatch available, you can try a free demo of the product.
Choosing the Best File Transfer Protocol Software
When it comes to choosing the best file transfer protocol software, I believe one solution stands above the rest: SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server. Serv-U MFT is designed to make the process of transferring large files simple and painless for everyone within an organization—not just your IT experts. The tool’s easy UI combined with its powerful encryption makes it the top secure file transfer tool on the market. Try it free for 14 days.
[As of January 2022]