Back when FTP was all the rage, businesses used this protocol to exchange files, no questions asked.

Today, after speaking to multiple customers, our team has found that several businesses often investigate FTP advantages and disadvantages. Specifically, is FTP the right solution for transferring bulky client or business files? Or is it time to upgrade that FTP legacy server due to its inherent security risks? Let’s breakdown the FTP advantages and disadvantages.

FTP Advantages

  • Transfer data efficiently in bulk across a network (Billie Jean Bateson @ Amazing Wristbands)
  • Progress is not lost, even if the connection is timed out.
  • Send multiple file directories at the same time (Max Robinson @ Ace WorkGear)
  • Move files around easily and in an organized fashion
  • Configure once and your settings are saved (Claire Abraham @ 216digital)
  • Create multiple levels of access (Claire Abraham @ 216digital)
  • Work more efficiently with macros (Billie Jean Bateson @ Amazing Wristbands)
  • Select which mode is used to transfer data (ASCII or binary)
  • Easy to use (if you are in IT)

FTP Disadvantages

  • It’s old, 45 years old roughly
  • Difficult to use if you do not have an IT background
  • Hard sell to employees with other file sharing alternatives
  • Easy for inexperienced users to wipe out work with a single click (Max Robinson @ Ace WorkGear)
  • Can’t change ownership of a file (Claire Abraham @ 216digital)
  • Not a secure data transfer due to lack of encryption; must use secure alternative such as SFTP
  • Passwords and usernames are in plain text making it simpler for an authorized user to gain access (Brandon Howard @ All My Web Needs)
  • Recursive changes are very hard to make (Claire Abraham @ 216digital)
  • FTP can cause various attacks while transferring data, such as bounce attacks, spoof attacks, packet sniffing and port sealing (Billie Jean Bateson @ Amazing Wristbands)
  • Identifying errors is a pain without knowing the server response codes
  • Making your own server is expensive
  • Difficult and minimal user permissions when using FTP
  • Limited mobile device access without an app
  • Creating automated scripts is a pain
  • No integration setups such as desktop or Outlook
  • Virus scanning isn’t easy, which is especially risky with the increase in ransomware viruses
  • No simple options to share files, such as a URL share link
  • Limited API or integration capabilities without upfront work
  • Minimal auditing capabilities due to limited logging and reporting
  • Difficulty scaling users or storage
  • Drive is not easily mounted
  • Branding on external file shares is lost
  • Activity notifications are nearly impossible to create

Solving the Security FTP Disadvantage

While an IT pro can weigh the FTP advantages and disadvantages all day long, FTP ultimately poses a security risk. Yet, the convenience of the protocol still entices many businesses into setting up their own servers. For firms looking to send sensitive information using an FTP capability, here are a few solutions.

1. Use SFTP or FTPS

Wait, what is the difference? SFTP and FTPS are both secure protocols that provide encrypted file transfers. SFTP is an extension of the SSH protocol, while FTPS simply adds a security layer to the existing FTP protocol.

For a more detailed comparison read our blog on SFTP vs. FTPS or our technical comparison guide. Note that using SFTP or FTPS still has some of the disadvantages listed above, such as minimal auditing capabilities, alerts, permissions, etc. If you are looking for a more robust file sharing platform, continue reading.

2. Find an FTP Alternative

SmartFile offers robust security features, including granular user permissions, activity logs, password-protected sharing and encryption options. Our responsive web interface allows SmartFile use on-the-go and a brandable browser interface to make it a true business solution that any user can easily use.

If you are looking to host your server behind your firewall, SmartFile’s FileHub™ allows for the convenience of cloud features with an on-premises device. If your firm needs enterprise speed and downtime protection, SmartFile offers high availability options. Or always be prepared for a disaster with failover options (especially useful at the present tornado season in the midwest).

No need for on-premises? Try using our scalable cloud solution. Our unlimited account offers the unlimited users and unlimited storage, which is great for scaling enterprises.

If you are searching for a time-saving solution, sign up for our free trial.

Get More FTP Advantages with Fewer Disadvantages

“SmartFile provides both a web interface and more traditional FTP connection methods which means we can cater to the needs of all our clients whatever their level of technical ability. The fact that the site is so easy to brand is a bonus!”
— Clive Skinner, Head of Technology, Genius Digital LTD.

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About Victoria Shaw

I'm the Marketing Intern at SmartFile, and a Junior Marketing major at Anderson University. I enjoy crafting content while listening to musical theatre soundtracks and eating sushi (or chocolate). Thank you for reading my post! P.S. I graduate in just over a year, so if you need a high quality marketing team member, I'm your gal;)

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