What is SFTP?

SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is a secure file transfer protocol that uses secure shell encryption to provide a high level of security for sending and receiving file transfers. 

SFTP is similar to FTPS in that it uses AES and other algorithms to secure data as it travels between different systems. SFTP also provides several methods to fulfill the authentication of a connection such as user IDs and passwords, SSH keys, or combinations of these. SFTP is capable of helping enterprises achieve file transfer compliance as required for HIPAA, GDPR, and other regulatory regimes. 

Secure File Transfer Protocol

To use SFTP, SFTP client software is required to connect to an SFTP server, where files can be uploaded, stored, and retrieved in a downloadable format. An SFTP server is the type of storage location where files are stored and retrieved.

Read our eBook: The Essential Guide to Secure and Managed File Transfers on the IBM i


Compared to other file transfer protocols such as FTPS, SFTP may offer an advantage, particularly when it comes to authentication over firewalls . In this sense, SFTP offers less risk than FTPS, since it only requires a single open port to send and receive initial authentication information, commands, and file transfers from another server. 

Another advantage of SFTP is that it is packet-based instead of text-based. What this means is that SFTP is typically faster than other file transfer protocols since packets are easier to process, hence requiring fewer CPU resources. Whereas text-based protocols can contain large strings that take substantially more time to decrypt. In other words, SFTP is easier to process simply because less data is changing hands. 

Managing Secure File Transfers

Every business is unique and understanding the difference between these technologies is key to successfully managing your business’s security regime. Precisely can help you identify which file transfer protocol is most appropriate for your enterprise while helping you manage secure file transfers using its secure file transfer solution.