The Secure File Sharing Matchup: Differences between SFTP and SCP
When sizing up SFTP vs. SCP you’ll find that the two file sharing protocols are quite similar. And, for some file transfer situations, they could be nearly interchangeable. Your need for speed, functionality and security will determine which protocol is best for you.
First, the similarities. Both file sharing protocols:
- Are secure alternatives to FTP
- Utilize TCP as the transport layer
- Use SSH (Secure Shell) as the encryption protocol
- Have no file size restrictions
- Use secure authentication (SSH public key and/or password)
- Both use port 22 by defalt
Now the differences:
In this corner: SFTP, is a more robust protocol and provides file management capabilities such as listing directories, renaming files, deleting files, and more.If there are connectivity issues, SFTP supports resuming transfer. In addition, SFTP has packet-level integrity checks, which provide more reliability, but can slow down file transfers.
In this corner: SCP, which is a more simplified, efficient transport algorithm, making it faster than SFTP, especially on high-latency networks. SCP does not, however, provide the ability to list directories, rename files, or other file management capabilities. It also does not resume transfers if there are connectivity issues.
The secure file transfer winner is….
There really is no clear winner here, as the best solution truly depends on your specific requirements. SFTP beats SCP if you’re looking for a file transfer protocol that includes file management capabilities. SCP beats SFTP if you are looking for an efficient, fast programmatic transfer option.
Related Reading: How SFTP Works
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