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What is Wrong With Free File Transfer?

Frustrated person getting error message when using free file transfer

Free time! Free food! Free kittens! All great concepts, right? Free file transfers! Ummmm, not so much.

The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…” definitely holds when it comes to file transfers. After all, the data you send to third-parties, vendors, customers and even internal staff is priceless and, in the wrong hands, worth enough that it can cripple your operations should it be compromised. Beyond the risk of data breaches, free file transfer solutions just don’t hold up, except when sending small, one-off types of documents needing no privacy or security precautions.

User-friendly, free file sharing apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more unfortunately hold the door wide open to risks, including hacking, unrestricted access, and potential file manipulation. Operating securely and confidently in today’s business environment means your high-value data transfers need a level of security, encryption, access restrictions, and management that those tempting free options just can’t deliver.

While free is usually good, protecting your valuable data is better and worth budgeting for.

Related reading: Managed File Transfer ROI calculator

What Free File Sharing Applications Lack

While some free options do offer a few bells and whistles, none offer the complete array of assets of a managed file transfer (MFT) application to protect vital data. If you're considering going the free route, ask yourself if your solution option offers the following functions to fully support secure file transfers at your organization before you hit “send” on that next file transfer:

  • Ability to meet compliance regulations. If your industry has compliance requirements to meet for HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FISMA, an off-the-shelf file sharing app simply won’t pass muster. If you don’t take the proper precautions, you could face some hefty non-compliance fines.
  • Secure encryption. Most open-source applications do not meet federal standards with FIPS 140-2 validated AES encryption. Nor do they encrypt files at rest and while in motion. A secure file transfer solution, however, encrypts and decrypts files using the Open PGP standard. In addition, transmissions are further protected with SFTP, SCP, FTPS, AS2, and HTTPS protocols.
  • Audit trails and reporting. To stay compliant, meet state privacy laws, and other regulations, file transfers need to be auditable – with logs of all file transfer and administrator activity searchable and available as PDF reports.
  • Large file transfer capability. Cloud-based FTP options often lack the seamless “resume transfer” feature needed when transferring large files. Secure file transfer is a safer, more trusted method to move large files when they need moving with help from load balancing and high availability.
  • Secure email. Open-source apps can be too revealing. A secure file transfer solution allows employees to securely and easily send confidential messages and files as secure HTTPS links. Some will also have no file size limitation.
  • Robust automation. Using a managed file transfer solution eliminates the need for manual processes, programming and clunky scripting. Most free file sharing apps do no not offer the ability to use the intuitive and customizable wizards, templates, and workflows of an MFT solution. Plus, MFT helps reduce the inherent risk of human error – a staffer sending out information to the wrong email list, neglecting to send files when needed, or even going on vacation at a critical time with no one else trained to send the data.
  • Multiple deployment options. Consider whether your free option can work on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment. You’ll want this type of flexibility as your business needs change and grow.
  • Updates and support. Will you receive the training and on-going support you may need? Off-the-shelf options have limited resources available so if a transfer fails, it's unlikely you'll be able to reach a support person to assist you with the transfer. Free solutions do't normally offer free support. One other consideration is how often that product is updated to address reported bugs and add new features.

What’s Better than Free File Sharing?

Managed file transfer solutions such as GoAnywhere. But why? Well, for starters, GoAnywhere offers secure file transfers through a centralized, enterprise-level approach. Data sent through the solution is kept safe during the transfer as well as at rest through industry standard protocols like FTPS and SFTP and Open PGP and AES encryption. With GoAnywhere in place, data sent is more secure, simplified, and meets compliance stipulations.

GoAnywhere is a dashboard-style, user-friendly option that offers a safe, audited way to automatically and simply transfer data within and outside of your operation. No special programming or homemade scripting is required, and the solution can be custom-tailored to your unique business needs.

Soar Above the Cloud with MFT

While cloud collaboration tools and even some homegrown scripts can handle some functions of file transfers, managed file transfer elevates and secures this and other critical business processes so you can reduce both time and resources.

See for yourself how MFT beats free. Check out our guide:

Businesses Need MFT: Here’s Why and How it Works

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