The Difference Between FTP, FTPS and SFTP
Before the Internet was around, sharing information throughout a company was much more difficult. Employees had to use paper copies and either physically deliver the information to another person themselves or put the information in the mail. They also wouldn’t be able to access files unless they were at the office. Today, most companies rely on some type of file transfer software to allow them to easily share important files among employees and throughout different departments and locations. The most traditional form of this software is FTP, but others have emerged as security became and continues to be an increasingly important concern. While they all serve the same basic purpose at their core, FTP, FTPS and SFTP have some key differences.
FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is the traditional file transfer software that was developed in the 1970s. FTP allows for easy file transfers to take place between computers. Through two different channels, the command and data channels, FTP both authenticates a user’s identity and sends the requested data back to the user. One of the main benefits of FTP is that it is able to transfer large amounts of data files all at once, so the user does not have to upload or download a singe file at a time. At the same time, FTP does not provide secure file transfer services, causing problems for companies that handle private and sensitive information.
FTPS was built off of the original FTP protocol in response to more security threats to data in motion. There are two kinds of FTPS: implicit and explicit. Both of these use encryption to create a secure channel to transfer files between computers, but they do so in different ways. Implicit FTPS automatically secures the channel before a connection is made between a server and client, while with explicit FTPS a command is issued after establishing a connection. FTPS is a more secure file transfer service.
SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is also a secure method of transferring files, but unlike FTPS, it is completely separate from FTP. SFTP differs from FTPS in that files are transferred over a connection that has already been secured, and it only uses a single channel to transfer files. These two features make SFTP a faster and more secure file transfer service. Since SFTP sends shorter commands, it makes the file transfer process much more efficient. Also, since it only opens a single connection between servers, there are fewer opportunities for hackers to break in and steal files.
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