Which is better: SFTP vs. MFT?

SFTP, or MFT: that is the million-dollar question. As it turns out the choice is more interesting than you might suspect. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this age-old question and find out.

Which is better: SFTP vs. MFT?

SFTP, or MFT: that is the million-dollar question.

Many IT professionals will ask this question at some point or another. Should they use an SFTP or managed file transfer (MFT) solution to transfer sensitive files securely—and why?

As it turns out the choice is more interesting than you might suspect. By design, SFTP and MFT solutions both work to protect data in transit. They both authenticate trading partner connections with a combination of user IDs, passwords, or keys, and they both help complying with the strict requirements for data security laws like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and the GDPR.

If they are so similar what is de difference? Is one better than the other for your organization?

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this age-old question and find out.

What is SFTP?

SFTP (which stands for FTP over SSH) is a secure FTP protocol that transmits files over secure shell (SSH). SSH is the magical word for SFTP because it provides organizations with a high level of protection for its file transfers. SFTP also implements AES, Triple DES, and similar algorithms to encrypt the files during transfer from 1 system to the other.

For authentication, SFTP users have several choices. They set up a connection with a user ID and password, an SSH key, or a combination of a password and SSH key. This is highly beneficial for organizations that need to implement stronger security measures around their file transfer processes and user access.

Although you can purchase relatively inexpensive SFTP file transfer tools, these tools rarely offer automation, auditing, monitoring, or other key features that make file transfers easier, more secure, and more affordable to execute.

What is Managed File Transfer

Managed File Transfer (MFT) is a solution that encompasses all aspects of file transfer processes, including workflows, security, administration, and auditing, from a centralized interface. Instead of only sending secure file transfers like an SFTP client does, MFT solutions also protect data at rest, schedule and automate batch transfers, encrypt files with industry standards like Open PGP and AES. This allows users to safely collaborate with others in the cloud or on-premises, track file transfer activity for compliance and reporting, and much more.

MFT file transfer solutions do everything SFTP tools can do, and then some. It is worth considering going for a Managed file transfer if you want to simplify your file transfer processes from multiple tools or legacy scripts down to a single solution that easily integrates with web and cloud services like SharePoint, Dropbox, and JIRA.

When to choose SFTP vs. MFT

Choose an SFTP solution if...

If you need a free or otherwise inexpensive way to send and receive secure file transfers to a handful of trading partners, an SFTP server and client tool might suit you. You can achieve basic needs like authenticating your users, transferring unlimited files per server connection, and controlling your port usage. Do keep in mind that your flexibility tends to be rather low.

Choose an MFT solution if...

If you need a way to streamline all aspects of your file transfers, a managed file transfer solution is the better choice.

With MFT, you will have several secure FTP protocols to choose from to transfer your, including SFTP, FTPS, HTTPS, and AS2. Alerts are sent by email, text, or system message for any file transfer failures, connection retry and auto-resume are available, and every SFTP (or other secure FTP protocol) transmission is tracked and audited to help you meet strict in-house and compliance requirements.

MFT solutions can also help with initiatives like automation, user collaboration, clustering for maintaining maximum high availability, web and cloud integrations for popular applications, and PDF reports on critical system information.

So, which one is better?

While MFT gives you the best of both worlds, which one you choose is entirely up to your current business needs. A modest budget or file transfers that are sent few and far in between might just require an SFTP server or client solution. If you don’t often work with sensitive files, SFTP may also be enough to fit your security requirements.

However, a managed file transfer solution offers organizations of all sizes a lot more value than simple file transfers. If compliance, automation, or auditing are high on your list of demands, or if you exchange a high volume of file transfers a day, a managed file transfer solution can help you simplify your processes, free up precious resources, and help you achieve a positive ROI.

We can help

Here at ECS we have a lot of experience when it comes down to secure FTP and MFT solutions. We can help you determine your exact needs and help you find the correct solution to fulfill them. Get in touch with us today by dialing +31 229 574331 or using our contact form.