With dozens of file transfer protocols to choose from, how do you know which is the best for your business?
Some file transfer protocol specifications are set by trading partners – method, format, and security requirements – while others are set by internal requirements. Discover the top secure file transfer methods, and how they stack up against one another in this blog.
Your Comprehensive File Sharing Protocol List
FTP – File Transfer Protocol
FTP is the ancestor of all other file transfer protocols. While it’s still used today, it’s akin to driving a cart and buggy on the highway instead of a modern car. It lacks basic security features that are automatically included in other FTPs today, and productivity features like automation and tracking are also lacking.
FTP is a dying protocol. It was only created to be used in the initial years of the internet and doesn’t take malicious activity into account when it moves data. It’s possible to add modern security protocols to FTP, but it’s often easier (and more secure) to use a different protocol entirely.
Related Reading: Five Secure Alternatives to FTP
AS2 – Applicability Statement 2
AS2, short for Applicability Statement 2, is a file transfer protocol that uses digital certificates and encryption to protect critical information while in transit and to ensure it’s received by the proper parties. AS2 is most often used to meet regulatory compliance requirements and trading partner needs in distribution and retail. Some organizations are moving away from AS2 to AS4. AS4 improves upon the already-strong security, reliability, and flexibility found in AS2.
A similar protocol is AS3, which is used to transfer structured data files (like XML and EDI). Like AS2, AS3 simplifies compliance requirement processes.
EDI – Electronic Data Exchange
This flat file format is commonly used for B2B file transfers. It’s very popular for its transparency: EDI is often used within industries or businesses that require easy-to-follow audit trails or need real-time visibility into file transfer statuses.
EDIFACT, EDI’s cousin from Europe, is the most popular EDI data standard outside of North America – although some U.S.-based organizations who often exchange data with European or Asian businesses are adopting EDIFACT alongside EDI.
FTPS – FTP over SSL
This more secure version of classic FTP uses TLS (SSL’s replacement) as its security mechanism to transfer data. TLS encrypts your server connection when transferring data, and FTPS overall uses strong encryption algorithms to secure file transfers.
HTTP and HTTPS
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) are both ways to send data between a web server and a web browser. Both work to define the format of messages and how browsers should respond to specific web requests. HTTP uses TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) as an underlying transport while HTTPS, like FTPS, is encrypted by SSL/TLS.
SCP – Secure Copy Protocol
SCP is a simplified, very efficient transportation algorithm. It’s very fast, especially on high-latency networks. It’s largely used to transfer files between a local host and a remote host. Like SFTP, SCP uses Secure Shell (SSH) as their transport layer used to secure logins and information moving between endpoints.
SFTP – Secure File Transfer Protocol
Likely the best-known of the modern FTPs, SFTP can stand for both SSH File Transfer Protocol and Secure File Transfer Protocol. It sends file transfers over Secure Shell (SSH) and implements multiple strong encryption algorithms to encrypt files. It’s among the most popular FTPs because it helps encrypt and authenticate data transfers to keep your sensitive information secure.
- AS2 vs SFTP
- FTP vs. SFTP
- FTPS vs. SFTP
- HTTPS vs. SFTP
- MFT vs. SFTP
- SCP vs. SFTP
- SSH vs. SFTP
- TFTP vs. SFTP
TCP – Transmission Control Protocol
TCP is network communication standard for application programs and computing devices. It defines how to establish and maintain a network connection that can then be used to exchange data, as well as how to break application data into packets and ensure end-to-end data delivery. It is included within the standards defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
TFTP – Trivial File Transfer Protocol
TFTP is based on FTP but is stripped down: it only allows users to send and retrieve files. It’s less secure than FTP (which is already one of the least-secure file transfer protocols on this list!) and does not allow for user authentication.
Why is TFTP used? It’s great for one-time file transfers within a Local Area Network (LAN) – but avoid using it over the internet.
Managed File Transfer – The One FTP to Rule Them All
Managed File Transfer (MFT) is a secure file transfer solution that brings many file transfer protocols under one roof. Manage various trading partner preferences – AS2, SFTP, FTPS, and others – from a centralized dashboard, with the ability to track, audit, and automate every file transfer.