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FTP vs. MFT: What's the Difference?



Transferring sensitive data is an essential part of doing business on a day-to-day basis. However, when your organization is tasked with keeping that sensitive data safe when moving it from point A to point B, it’s best to choose a solution that can keep your files secure.

If you’re torn between choosing from a basic solution like FTP or a more advanced one like MFT, this blog is for you.

Know the Terms: GoAnywhere Glossary

What is FTP?

The original file transfer protocol, FTP, is a standard network protocol that has been around for decades and is used for the transfer of 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, like the Internet.

With FTP, user credentials are sent as plain text and files are not encrypted when they are transferred. With both channels unencrypted, this leaves data vulnerable to being intercepted and taken advantage of. However, it does require an authenticated username and password for access.

Along with the encryption skills it’s lacking, it’s also missing features like automation and does not meet compliance requirements. Additionally, FTP users often report problems like connection errors and inconsistent functionality too.

Related Reading: Problems with FTP (And How to Solve Them)

What is MFT?

MFT, short for managed file transfer, is an all-in-one technology and secure file transfer solution that encompasses all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfers. MFT solutions utilize industry-standard network protocols and encryption methods to secure sensitive data both in transit and at rest.

An MFT solution can be used by organizations of all sizes for file transfer needs ranging from a few dozen a week to thousands per day. The innovative nature of MFT helps to improve the quality of file transfers and helps organizations to 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 tracked from a central point of administration. Data can be exchanged swiftly across networks, systems, applications, and trading partners with MFT. It does this in the cloud, on-premises, within a hybrid environment, or via MFTaaS.

Essentially, managed file transfer solutions exist to meet the growing needs of organizations who want to reduce their overall file transfer costs, dramatically improve their cybersecurity efforts, and replace the use of vulnerable file transfer protocols like FTP.

Related Reading: Can Your MFT Solution Do These 20 Things?

The Key Differences – FTP vs. MFT

Let’s compare FTP and MFT together so you can get a better insight into the key differences.



Protecting data is paramount to every organization. Unfortunately, FTP solutions fall short in this category is not equipped to handle modern cybersecurity concerns. FTP does not have good authentication to send or retrieve data. User credentials are sent as plain text, and information, like files and other documents, are transferred “in the clear.” This means your information isn’t encrypted, and anyone with the know-how can intercept and access the files you send via FTP.


MFT solutions can heighten an organization’s level of cybersecurity by securing file transfers inside and outside the business with its focus on user access and controls. With extensive security controls and features, organizations can set password policies and authenticate users with LDAP, AD, and other identity and access management features.



FTP does not encrypt the tunnels that are created to send and retrieve files. Anyone watching a network would be able to see all files, sensitive and non-sensitive, that pass between your organization and your trading partners in the cloud. This doesn’t mean just hackers. Employees, vendors, and more may also be able to see what you’re sending.


Ensuing the privacy and integrity of an organization’s data is vital. MFT implements cutting edge encryption technologies like Open PGP and AES to keep data safe in transit and at rest to reduce the risk of data breaches and/or unauthorized access.

File Transfers


FTP is missing basic features. For example, to automate file transfers with FTP, you would have to add a second solution, which is not recommended. FTP is also not recommended for new tech. Because no new FTP security features are added or updated, your organization can outgrow FTP quickly. For example, if you wanted to integrate with the cloud, or use cloud computing platforms like Azure or AWS, you’d have to either use something other than FTP or accept a lot of risk.


Forget custom scripts, desktop applications, and failed transfers. MFT allows you to 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’s editing, viewing, and sending them.

Organizations can receive notifications of failed file transfers and initiate auto-retries if needed, so precious time isn’t wasted troubleshooting. Automating recurring tasks can improve your reliability with re-try features and limits how much any user must interact with sensitive data.

Time, Money, and Valuable Resources


FTP can be time consuming. Developing, maintaining, and troubleshooting scripts or other manual processes can take up time and often put the burden on employees. This is especially worrisome if said employee isn’t in the office to take care of the issue in the first place or is strained for time.

Another aspect to consider is that although free file transfer software may save money up front, the potential cost of a data breach has a much higher price, both in terms of money and reputation.


MFT solutions are automated and can cut costs in a number of ways: tedious file transfers with complicated setups can be handled and scheduled with ease, organizations can make processes more efficient and enhance staff productivity, and recurring high-volume transfers can be taken care of in a timely manner. The process of troubleshooting can also be smoothed out and not be a singular employee’s burden to bear.

Compliance Requirements


To keep this one simple, FTP is simply unable to help your organization comply with important requirements or regulations due to its lack of encryption, auditing and other cybersecurity capabilities, and more.


Organizations being able to encrypt file transfers is essential for compliance with existing and emerging privacy laws, industry-specific compliance requirements like HIPAA, and other regulations meant to protect sensitive, high-risk information from getting into the wrong hands.

Along with encryption, MFT provides organizations with the additional benefit of built-in monitoring, tracking, and auditing. With MFT, it’s easy to pull reports on all file service activity and relevant processes.

Watch the Webinar: Replace FTP Scripts with a Managed File Transfer (MFT) Solution

MFT Blows FTP Out of the File Transfer Game

MFT solutions like GoAnywhere MFT streamline the exchange of data securely, automate processes, and help your organization to save time and money. Eliminate the need for unsecure file transfer methods like FTP and see how MFT can benefit your organization.

Download the MFT Software Impact Guide for a look at key findings from several reports, surveys, and real examples of how your peers have found success with MFT by their side.

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