FTP vs MFT, What's the Difference?

Sending sensitive data remains an essential part of an organization on a daily basis. But how can you best do this? Which solution is most suitable for this? If you are in doubt between an FTP and an MFT solution, read on!


Sending sensitive data remains an essential part of an organization on a daily basis. But how can you best do this? How does this sensitive data most securely get from point A to point B? Which solution is most suitable for this? If you are in doubt between an FTP and an MFT solution, read on because there are more differences than you might expect!

What is FTP?

Let's start at the beginning and delve into a widely used data transfer method, namely FTP. The original file transfer protocol, FTP, is a standard network protocol that has been around for decades and is used for transferring sensitive files between a client and a server on a computer network. It can be used to exchange and manipulate files over a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/Internet Protocol (IP) based network, such as the Internet.

With FTP, user credentials are sent as plain text and files are not encrypted when they are transferred. Because both channels are not encrypted, data is vulnerable to interception and misuse. It does, however, require a verified username and password for access, but don't let this fool you that FTP is also immediately secure..

In addition to the most well-known coding skills that it lacks, it also lacks functions such as automation and does not meet the requirements that companies have to meet (think of AVG/GDPR regulations). In addition, FTP users often report and are not always visible problems such as connection errors and inconsistent functionality.

What is MFT?

MFT, short for Managed File Transfer, is an all-in-one technology. It is a secure file transfer solution that covers all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfer. MFT solutions use industry-standard network protocols and encryption methods to protect sensitive data both in transit and at rest.

An MFT solution can be used by organizations of all sizes for file transfers ranging from a few dozen per week to thousands per day. The innovative nature of MFT helps improve the quality of file transfers and helps organizations comply with key data security policies and regulations.

With MFT solutions, time-consuming manual processes can be replaced and transfers can be simplified, automated, streamlined and monitored from a central management point (i.e. increased visibility). With MFT, data can be quickly exchanged between networks, systems, applications and trading partners. It does this in the cloud, on-premises or within a hybrid environment.

The Differences Between FTP and MFT

Now that we have discussed the explanation of both techniques, let's look at the differences between Cybersecurity, Encryption, Data Transfer, Costs and Compliance Requirements:



Protecting data is paramount to any organization. Unfortunately, FTP solutions fall short in this category and are not equipped to address modern cybersecurity problems. FTP does not have proper authentication to send or retrieve data. User credentials are sent as plain text and information, such as files and other documents, is transferred "publicly". This means that your information is not encrypted and anyone with the right knowledge can intercept and access the files you send via FTP.


MFT solutions can increase an organization's level of cybersecurity by securing file transfers inside and outside the company with an emphasis on user access and controls. Comprehensive security controls and features allow organizations to set password policies and authenticate users with LDAP, AD, and other identity and access management features.



FTP does not encrypt the tunnels/channels created to send and retrieve files. Anyone looking at a network could see all the files, sensitive and non-sensitive, that go between your organization and your trading partners in the cloud. This doesn't just mean hackers. Employees, suppliers and more may also be able to see what you are sending, which only increases the risk of a data breach.


Ensuring the privacy and integrity of an organization's data is vital. MFT implements advanced encryption technologies such as Open PGP and AES to keep data secure in transit and at rest to reduce the risk of data breaches and/or unauthorized access.

Data Transfer:


FTP lacks basic features. For example, to automate file transfers with FTP, you would have to add a second solution, which is not recommended and also incurs additional costs. FTP is also not recommended for new technology. Because no new FTP security features are added or updated, your organization can quickly outgrow FTP. For example, if you want to integrate with the cloud, or use cloud computing platforms like Azure or AWS, you either need to use something other than FTP or take a lot of risk.


Forget custom scripts, desktop applications and failed transfers. With MFT you can create, test and automate file transfers from one easy-to-use interface. It also helps you track all the files moving through the system along with who edits, views and sends them.



FTP can be time consuming. Developing, maintaining, and troubleshooting scripts or other manual processes can be time-consuming and often a burden on employees. This is especially concerning if the employee is not in the office to solve the problem, if he is short on time or worse, leaves your organization and takes all the knowledge with him. Another aspect to consider is that while free file transfer software can save money up front, the potential costs of a data breach come at a much higher price, both in terms of money and reputation.


MFT solutions are automated and can save costs in a number of ways: tedious file transfers with complicated settings can be easily handled and scheduled, organizations can make processes more efficient and increase staff productivity, and recurring high-volume transfers can be handled on time . The problem solving process can also be smoothed out and not be the burden of a single employee. In addition, less knowledge is also required to set up the MFT solution, keep it up-to-date and adjust it if necessary. Furthermore it is easy to train someone cause you don't want to have all the knowledge and know how with 1 person.

Compliance Requirements:


To keep this simple, FTP simply cannot help your organization meet important compliance requirements or regulations due to the lack of encryption, auditing and other cybersecurity capabilities and more.


Organizations that can encrypt file transfers are essential to comply with existing and emerging privacy laws, industry-specific compliance requirements such as AVG/GDPR, and other compliance regulations designed to prevent sensitive, risky information from falling into the wrong hands. In addition to encryption, MFT offers organizations the added benefit of built-in monitoring, tracking and auditing. With MFT it is easy to retrieve reports on all file service activities and relevant processes.

Organizations can receive notifications of failed file transfers and automatically retry if necessary, so valuable time is not wasted on troubleshooting. By automating repetitive tasks, you can improve your reliability with retry features and limit a user's interaction with sensitive data.

As you can see, MFT offers significant advantages over FTP solutions. In addition to the advantages that save time and a considerable amount of ease of use, safety is the main reason why you should opt for an MFT solution as soon as possible and not implement an FTP solution because it seems cheaper at first sight. A data breach will entail considerably more costs and will also damage your image as a reliable trading partner.

ECS is the official partner of GoAnywhere and Cleo for MFT solutions, among others, and brings over 20 years of experience with us to assist and implement the right choice for an MFT solution. Contact us today if want you know more about the right MFT solution for your business!