Managed File Transfer (MFT) Solution

What is Managed File Transfer?


Managed file transfer (MFT) is a secure solution that helps organizations meet all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfer. “Managed” describes one of the main draws of managed file transfer solutions: its ability to automate, simplify, and streamline data transfers, whether across your organization, within a private network, or to external users.

Why is MFT Needed?

Getting files from one place to the next is a business essential, and there are many applications that help users do just that. Managed file transfer (MFT) is a secure way to centralize, simplify, and automate your data movements. Organizations incorporate secure MFT software to:

Save time and money

Improve security

Simplify sever-to-server file transfers

Meet compliance requirements

What is GoAnywhere MFT?


GoAnywhere MFT is one of the leading managed file transfer solutions. It automates and secures file movement using a centralized enterprise-level approach.

GoAnywhere MFT streamlines file transfers and related business processes without the need for programming or special skills. You can deploy GoAnywhere on-premises, in the cloud on platforms like Microsoft Azure and AWS or via MFTaaS, or within hybrid environments. Our secure managed file transfer solution runs easily on platforms like Linux, Windows, AIX, the IBM i, and more.

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How Managed File Transfer Works

1. Original files are sent from the MFT file transfer application
2. The Secure MFT solution encrypts the file
3. The recipient receives the data delivery

Several managed file transfer solutions also assist in your file transfers by letting you set up bulk or repeating transfers, using auto-resume to ensure files make it to their destination with no need for troubleshooting, and creating logs to get a global look at transfers months after they’re complete.

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Why Use Managed File Transfer?


Protecting sensitive data is of paramount importance in today’s environment, both in transit and at rest. Managed file transfer is one among many file transfer options. However, as a centralized method for encrypting, automating, and sending data securely from one place to the next, it stands out among other approaches to file transfer. You may want to use managed file transfer if your organization needs to:

  • Audit or monitor your organization's file transfer activity.
  • Comply with data security laws and regulations.
  • Move to a more secure way to send data.
  • Use adaptable processes that can overcome downtime, reduce human error, and auto-resume.
  • Exchange data with internal and external stakeholders, whether in the cloud or on-premises.

Some secure MFT solutions offer added features that allow you to integrate data flow between the cloud and web apps you use daily, and can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud environment, or as a SaaS solution to give your organization the flexibility you need to transfer files securely.

Watch the webinar: Replacing FTP Scripts with Managed File Transfer >


What are the Benefits of Managed File Transfer?

Managed file transfer is built on simple, secure file transfer that lets you create, schedule, monitor, and process sent and retrieved files. Because MFT is an enhancement to file transfer protocols, look for MFT solutions that offer:

Ease and Speed of Implementation

Get up and running quickly with straightforward user interfaces, dedicated support, and drag-and-drop process building.

Continuous Enhancements and Updates

Stay ahead of hackers while getting the latest-and-greatest in file transfer. Global processes and data security requirements change, and you want your solution to stay ahead of the curve.

Flexible Deployment Options

Some organizations deploy all their software on-premises, some use web service, and some mix the two for a hybrid solution. Whether you’re strictly on-prem or cloud-friendly, ensure that the MFT software you prefer can be deployed how you want, and on the platform your organization uses.

Customization That Won’t Break the Budget

Select the software bundle that fits your organization best. Make sure you can add onto the software without paying an arm and a leg.


Your file transfers may not always stay the same. Down the line, you may need increased file transfer bandwidth, add new features and modules, or expand your userbase. Guarantee that your secure MFT solution can keep up with your company’s growth and changes.

Enhanced Encryption and File Security

The foundation of managed file transfer is security. The secure MFT solution you select must be able to meet your industry compliance requirements, as well as data privacy regulations.

Request Your GoAnywhere Demo

Schedule a personalized 15-, 30-, or 60-minute demo to discuss your file transfer requirements, and how GoAnywhere can improve your data exchanges today.

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Comparing Managed File Transfer Solutions


Features of a Robust MFT Software Solution

Maximize the use of MFT at your organization with advanced features:

  • Advanced auditing and tracking: Tracks the data you transfer each day, noting all file activity and provides detailed reports for export as needed.
  • Browser- and mobile-operability: Whether you’re at your desk or away, a browser-based system can send you an alert if a file transfer fails.
  • Cloud support: As more organizations drive their applications, data, and file transfers to the cloud, be sure your secure MFT solution is capable of supporting this. Some solutions are 100 percent cloud-based; others are on-site only; and still others offer a hybrid approach.
  • Clustering: Allows you to distribute a heavy workload for higher availability and supports load balancing across multiple systems.
  • Collaboration: Features that support and enhance your core MFT capabilities.
  • Connectivity: Connect to a wide variety of servers for secure server-to-server file transfers. Maintain a single point of control and administration with this centralized, non-evasive solution.
  • Email and form security: Protecting emails and forms can be just as vital as protecting data being transferred or at rest.
  • Extensive security controls: The ability to set password policies and authenticate users with LDAP, AD, and other identity and access management features.
  • Integrations: Lets you use popular services like SharePoint Online, Box, Google Drive, and other out-of-the-box software securely.
  • Remote agents: With central deployment of the software you can configure and schedule your critical business processes across your organization. These MFT agents can live on premises or in the cloud to help you automatically monitor folders and transfer files at remote locations or with trading partners.
  • Reverse proxy: This feature, not available on all MFT solutions, keeps your file sharing servers inside your private network and away from your DMZ.
  • Support for a variety of protocols: Connectivity with all the protocols you need: FTP, SFTP, PeSIT, and more.

Discover how organizations are using secure MFT today: The GoAnywhere Book of Secure File Transfer Project Examples 

Managed File Transfer vs. Other File Sharing Methods

EFSS While EFSS and MFT have many common features, EFSS is a solution used for sharing files between individuals and their devices. MFT, on the other hand, is primarily used for automating and securing batch file transfers between systems, customers, and trading partners on a variety of platforms. Keep reading >
SFTP SFTP is a secure FTP protocol and provides organizations with a high level of protection for its file transfers thanks to SSH. It’s a free and inexpensive way to send a receive secure file transfers to a handful of trading partners, while MFT streamlines all aspects of your file transfers, and lets you use SFTP, among other secure protocols, to safeguard data. Keep reading >
Dropbox When people first think of ad-hoc file sharing, the first option that often comes to mind is Dropbox. Depending on your Dropbox plan, it’s either free or low cost, and allows for collaboration on documents and some file sharing via folder permissions. MFT gives you the same functionality alongside additional features. Keep reading >

Free vs. Open Source vs. Paid


When it comes to file transfer and data sharing, most organizations want to know that their data is secure at all steps in the process. Using secure software can help with that, but cost may be a factor. When considering free or open source software to transfer your sensitive data, consider the pros and cons of the solution.

Free file transfer tools can be great for sending small, one-off types of documents that don’t require any privacy or security precautions. But for moving sensitive information, free software isn’t the way to go; data breaches, inability to audit, and failing to meet compliance requirements can put your organization on the line for more money than the cost of secure software. While free is good in some venues, safeguarding your valuable data is worth budgeting for.

Keep reading: What is Wrong With Free File Transfer? 

Open source solutions can have more security protections than free tools but are not necessarily up to the task of fully protecting sensitive data. While most open source MFT software can go head-to-head with paid options, they tend to lose in three areas:

  1. Limited functionality. With open source software, you may have to find multiple products to make up the features that a single MFT option has. This could include security, auditing, or automation features. And if your organization starts to need more out of the solution, you may start to quickly outgrow an open source version.
  2. Limited support. Just because the software is free, there is no guarantee that support or other resources for using the software, like documentation, user support forums, or support calls, will be free as well – or exist at all.
  3. Uncertainty. Open source software isn’t just free – it’s wild and free. If the developer decides to call it quits, or the company that offers the software you rely on withdraws the free version, you could be left in a lurch with no MFT application at all.

Keep reading: The Pros and Cons of Open Source MFT Software 


Next Steps: Diving into Managed File Transfer Research

Because it is important to understand software, functionality, and support before committing to MFT as your secure file transfer solution of choice, check out how other organizations use MFT and try the software out yourself:

  1. First, discover five easy projects you can take on with an MFT trial: 5 Projects You Could Tackle with a GoAnywhere Trial.
  2. Then, see what organizations in all industries use MFT for: 20 Managed File Transfer Projects You Can Copy.
  3. For an in-depth look at organizations’ journey from other file transfer methods to MFT, review case studies.
  4. Check the return on investment with a handy MFT ROI calculator, or review the white paper: No Such Thing as Free File Transfer: Maximizing ROI with a Managed File Transfer Solution.
  5. If you learn by doing, take the solution for a spin! Find the software’s free trial option and test out a project.
  6. If you prefer to watch or get a walkthrough, consider watching a brief demo, or sitting down with an expert to get an in-depth look into the software of your choice.

Bonus: Go further than the managed file transfer basics. See what other benefits an MFT solution can bring to your organization with Going Beyond File Transfer.

The Best Managed File Transfer Tools and Software

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A cursory search for “managed file transfer software” results in many options: free, paid, “best of” lists, and “perfect for your industry.” But how do you know which MFT solution is best for you and your organization?

  1. Determine your "must haves." Whether that’s file transfer volume, file size, how much time you’d like to reduce manual file transfers by, or another component, list out the things you’d like your secure MFT solution to do. Then, during your research and conversations with the vendors, ensure that the software accomplishes those goals.
  2. Recognize your industry-specific requirements. Higher education, healthcare, and banking and finance, among others, are subject to stringent regulations for file sharing and data security. Consider requirements that apply to your organization when considering MFT solutions.
  3. Choose your deployment options. Some organizations prefer their software on-premises, some prefer cloud solutions, and still others have hybrid setups in place. Your MFT software should fit into your organization’s software deployment preferences.

Keep reading: How to Evaluate MFT Vendors

There are some key players in the secure MFT space, and you’ll find a variety of ways to compare them. One of the best ways is to look at testimonials and reviews on your favorite software review website, like Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, or G2, among others. You can also examine aggregated reviews, such as Info-Tech’s MFT Category Report to get a closer look at the specifics that interest you.

Learn More About Improving Your File Transfers

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Managed File Transfer Solution FAQs

Managed file transfer (MFT) solutions simplify and secure an everyday business essential: file movement. Benefits of managed file transfer include time and cost savings, improved security, simplified data movements, and assistance meeting compliance requirements.

Organizations use managed file transfer to:

  • Audit or monitor your organization's file transfer activity.
  • Comply with data security laws and regulations.
  • Move to a more secure way to send data.
  • Use adaptable processes that can overcome downtime, reduce human error, and auto-resume.
  • Exchange data with internal and external stakeholders, whether in the cloud or on-premises.

MFT solutions are flexible enough to encompass most file encryption, centralization, and security needs.

Managed file transfer (MFT) is a type of software solution that helps organizations meet all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfer. “Managed” describes one of the benefits of managed file transfer solutions: its ability to automate, simplify, and streamline data transfers, whether across your organization, within a private network, or to external users.

Managed file transfer (MFT) users set up transfers files within the MFT application. Once the transfer is outlined, the MFT solution encrypts the data as well as the transfer itself. Once the MFT file transfer leaves the sender’s server, it is sent to the recipient, who can decrypt the data.

Managed file transfer (MFT) solutions are enhancements to traditional file transfer protocols and processes. MFT solutions win over other file transfer methods because they are:

  • Quick and easy to implement
  • Frequently updated with new enhancements to improve your transfers and stay secure
  • Flexible to deploy on-premises, in the cloud, or as SaaS solutions
  • Customizable
  • Scalable
  • More secure than traditional FTP

The best managed file transfer (MFT) solution will vary based on your organization. When searching for an MFT solution consider what you’d like your MFT solution to do, your industry-specific requirements such as compliance requirements, and how you want to deploy the solution. These requirements will help you narrow down the possible vendors and solutions that best fit your organization’s file transfer needs.

There are key players in the MFT space, and there are a variety of ways to compare them. Testimonials and reviews on software review sites, like Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, or G2, or aggregate reviews, such as Info-Tech’s MFT Category Report can help you identify the features that each solution offers.

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