Ask These Questions to Help You Choose a Secure FTP Provider

Need some help searching for the right FTP provider for your business? First, consider who will be using FTP to transfer files, who will be managing your files and users, and what features you expect from a provider.

Questions to ask about finding an FTP provider

If you’re looking for a new FTP provider, you’ll need to know how your company’s use of FTP has evolved or outgrown your current solution. Start by answering a few questions. 

1. What are my business needs regarding FTP?

FTP can be a required protocol for businesses, especially those operating with legacy systems or that have restrictions to upgrading. 

If you are uploading and downloading large files FTP is a reliable option. A provider that offers secure connections including SFTP can ease your compliance and security concerns. ExaVault allows you to enable secure only mode so large file transfers can only be done via SFTP, or HTTPS for shares done through the online application.

Many businesses are setting up automated transfers. This allows for business to continue – throughout the day and outside standard business hours. Automation may be what your company needs to expand into the global market or continue dealing with countries and clients all over the world. 

FTP provider illustration of relationship

2. Who will be using the FTP service?

The best way to narrow down your search for an FTP provider is to decide who will be using the service. Internal users like employees, external clients, or both?

With employees in various departments, contractors, customers, and other contacts, businesses often have a large number of individuals requiring access to upload or download files. FTP and SFTP usually require a login with a password or SSH keys for each user who needs access to files stored on the server. 

With ExaVault hosted FTP, you get unlimited users so Sally, Bob, Gina, Dave the contractor, and your entire marketing team can share large design files, update inventory spreadsheets, and get documents from clients without adding to the budget. With unlimited users, you can create logins and set access permissions for anyone or everyone.

3. What type of users do we need?

Once you’ve determined who will be using the service, it is important to identify what type of role they should have as a user accessing your FTP account. This is where permissions come into play. First, see if the FTP provider offers granular permissions. Then, find out if you will need any special access for your users. 

Examples of common user types include:

  • Admin user (one who has all rights and access to files but does not own the account)
  • Upload-only user (often a client or contractor who can upload files via FTP but has no other rights and can not see, download, or modify anything in the account)
  • Download-only user (a user who is restricted to downloading files only)

Most providers will allow you to select from a set of permissions to apply to each user you create. There are many custom permission sets you can create for individual users. You can also look for the ability to restrict users to certain folders. If your business has many departments you may want to set up your account so users from the sales team are limited to accessing documents only under the sales folder.

4. Who will be managing the files and service?

File management can cause headaches. Whoever you designate in charge of managing your hosted FTP account, make sure they understand setting permissions for new users as well as how to use the service. 

You may want to designate someone with technical skills as the go-to person for questions regarding FTP and for teaching new users and clients how to access files. You should also consider technical support. Does the FTP provider have support available? 

It may also be important for you to utilize additional functionality like automation or webhooks. If you have an IT department capable of setting things up on your end, great! If not, ExaVault offers one-on-one training sessions via online webinar and can walk you through almost any feature or set up.

5. How will we access files?

You know you’ll be using FTP or SFTP to access files. You know you’ll have users logging in to upload and download via FTP. Now you’ll want to know how else your users will access files including any web-based access for file management.

SSH keys allow for passwordless login for FTP. You can generate SSH keys for any user. The most common use is for automations. Setting up SSH keys can vary based on the FTP provider. If you are interested in alternative login capabilities check if that feature is available with the provider of your choice.

While secure FTP is a specific protocol for file transfer, your business may benefit from additional methods of accessing and managing files. Online access through a web portal is another feature many services combine with their FTP access. This offers improved accessibility for viewing and sharing smaller files.

Web FTP Providers

Once you have determined the basic elements of how you will utilize FTP, you will be better able to find the right solution for your business. For large file transfers via FTP or SFTP, multiple users, secure file storage, with an intuitive platform and online access, ExaVault offers the ideal solution.