What is SFTP: The Smart Business File Transfer Solution

Published on 07 Jan 2019

In this tutorial we’re answering: What is SFTP? We’ll start with a quick review of FTP, then dive right into what is SFTP. Get a technical overview, learn why businesses choose to use SFTP, and look at some quick practical examples of what businesses might use SFTP for. We’ll take the confusion out of SFTP as your file transfer solution.

What does SFTP stand for?

First, let’s review FTP or file transfer protocol.

FTP is a protocol for transferring data between a computer and remote computer or server over an Internet connection. Simply FTP facilitates data transfer through a client-server relationship, allowing you to manage and transfer files from one system to another.

Now let’s take a look at SFTP and find out how it can help your business with critical file transfers.

SFTP stands for SSH file transfer protocol. While SFTP is a secure protocol for transferring files, the s stands for ssh or secure shell.

SFTP is a Separate Protocol

What is SFTP video slide showing SSH session.

SFTP still uses a client and server connection to facilitate file transfer, but SFTP is a separate protocol. Unlike FTP, SFTP file transfers are done over the control channel. There is no need to open a separate data channel to complete your file transfer.

SFTP requires authentication by the server you’re connecting to and runs over an SSH session on TCP port 22. SSH or the secure shell acts as a privacy layer for your connection, establishing a secure channel between your local computer and a remote computer or server. This helps ensure that important information like usernames, passwords, and personal data aren’t sniffed by someone maliciously. Additionally, encryption helps ensure your data isn’t visible in plain text as it transfers over the Internet. With SFTP both commands and data are encrypted.

How Businesses Use SFTP

Why is SFTP a smart choice for business file transfer?

SFTP is pretty much the standard for the purpose of secure data transfer. Like FTP there are a lot of uses for SFTP, which makes sense since SFTP can be used by any industry for any file type. Businesses that need to protect sensitive information, love SFTP. So much so that many companies submit their payroll to ADP using SFTP.

Be it customer data, accounting and financial information, files that reveal internal operations, or agreements with contractors and government agencies. SFTP ensures secure and efficient file transmission, all without sacrificing security or compliance.

SFTP in the Real World

How does SFTP translate to the real world?

Professional video camera filming.

A likely candidate for SFTP is a legal firm the needs to keep tight control on its records and access to copies of files for courts, local governments, the federal government, and of course the IRS. IT professionals love SFTP because it helps keep restricted access to their overall systems and reduces risk. And movie production companies use SFTP to securely distribute digital movies to theaters, thus enabling moviegoers like yourself to enjoy the latest blockbuster on the big screen.

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