Securely Transfer Files Without an FTP Server

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) has become the de facto benchmark adopted by industries across the world to transfer information in a secure and standards-based environment. The protocol ensures secure access, transfer and management of sensitive data and large files over a network. SFTP utilizes Secure Shell (SSH) protocol to provide secure file transfer capabilities. It offers better security and helps organizations meet required HIPAA, GDPR and other regulatory standards.

The Need to Securely Transfer Files

Today’s fast-moving and ever-evolving business landscape requires organizations to gather, collate and analyze mountains of data in a centralized setup to stay ahead of competitors. A global marketplace also requires teams to have the ability to instantaneously share contractual, financial, healthcare and other such sensitive information with their customers and business associates without compromising their security and compliance standards. In either scenario, products like Egnyte SFTP allow you to safely transmit large files efficiently without risking data breaches or ransomware attacks.

What Makes SFTP Better Than FTP?

FTP facilitates the transfer of files using a client-to-server model over the internet using TCP/IP protocol. At a very high level, FTP architecture involves the use of two separate channels - command and data. The client establishes a command channel and sends a request to the server for a connection. Once this is established, the data channel is used to transfer files back and forth. This easy-to-understand model comes with some significant drawbacks:

  • Data Security - By design, these transfers are in plain text format and not encrypted. Hence, anyone snooping around for information can get a handle on your data as it moves between the FTP server and the client.
  • Compliance - It is incredibly difficult to find an FTP solution that meets HIPAA, SOX, FINRA and other compliance regulations.
  • Monitoring - An FTP makes it difficult to track the uploaded content and data back to its source. During a data breach, you cannot always identify if any information was tampered or lost in transit.


Given these challenges, most organizations prefer SFTP, which is an efficient and highly secure FTP server alternative.

Understanding SFTP

Secure File Transfer Protocol uses a client and server setup for transfer. But it uses a single control channel that’s encrypted and protected by a username and password or SSH cryptographic keys. Even if someone did intercept the transfer, they would just get encrypted, undecipherable information. 

The Egnyte SFTP takes this tried and tested approach a step further. Since this service runs entirely on the cloud, it does away with the need for an on-premise FTP server.

Benefits of Using the Egnyte SFTP

No FTP Server Required

The Egnyte SFTP service runs in the cloud. It lets you securely transfer sensitive files, is easy to use, and doesn’t need you to have a separate server. In contrast, deploying and maintaining a standalone server requires additional time, effort, and hardware costs. In the case of FTP and FTPS, it also requires complex firewall changes.

Confidential Transfers

Egnyte’s SFTP was built to use SSH encryption, allowing you to transfer even confidential files confidently. Additionally, all files remain encrypted at rest in the Egnyte content platform.

Instant Access

The setup is almost instantaneous. Seamlessly move all your information, including your date and timestamp metadata, without any losses.

Bulk Transfers

Automate and customize bulk file transfers with simple scripting techniques for easier setup. You don’t have to set up or maintain on-premises servers.

Compliance Guarantees

Remain compliant with the most stringent regulations, including HIPAA and FINRA. Get real-time alerts and compliance reports when content fails to adhere to your standards.

Let’s better understand the various steps involved in setting up your Egnyte SFTP.

File Encryption

Organizations use secure file transfer protocol to protect sensitive information. The loss, misuse, or unauthorized access of such sensitive data could lead to severe consequences, including compromising the safety and security of an individual or organization.

How Does It Work?

Files and their contents are encrypted using algorithms that scramble data. The user needs a key generated by the system to unscramble the information. Without it, the data is virtually unusable.

When Does Data Get Encrypted?

Data gets encrypted in three stages:

  • At Rest - Files stored in a folder or records in a database are at rest. Encrypting these documents helps prevent unauthorized access and secures sensitive details.
  • In Transit - Attachments in an e-mail, files transferred across an FTP server, data collection forms, etc., are all examples of data in transit. Encrypting data here prevents anybody from misusing it while in transit.
  • During Access - Files you access through one or more applications should also be encrypted to prevent third-party apps from accessing sensitive information.


How Does the Egnyte SFTP Encrypt Files?

Egnyte uses an encrypted transmission channel and 256-bit AES to secure your data during transfer. AES, or Advanced Encryption Standard, is the encryption algorithm adopted by the US Government in 2002. It is considered resistant to all kinds of attacks except for the rare and highly malicious ones conducted by brute force.

Can Malware Be Used to Access Encryption Algorithms?

Encryption algorithms can be accessed through malware. To keep data secure, an organization with an on-premises FTP server must have malware detection. Egnyte SFTP on-cloud servers look after this crucial step for you. It performs malware scans on all files and automatically quarantines infected ones. The server provides timely notifications to relevant administrators about potential malware concerns.

Easing Data and Content Migration

Secure file transfer protocol is becoming more and more relevant today as organizations adapt to hybrid and remote working environments. Organizations with customers, collaborators and vendors in multiple geographic locations must transfer their data and applications to the cloud or consolidate on-premises warehouses using centralized data warehouses or data lakes.

What Are the Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud?

Moving to the cloud creates a modernized and efficient infrastructure with:

  • Significantly lowered IT costs
  • Consistent data backups
  • Flexible and scalable setup
  • The ability to ingest data from a variety of global sources


Does the Egnyte SFTP Assist in Migration?

Yes! Egnyte has a Migration App that helps you transfer more than 50GB of data quickly and securely. You can also use a standard SFTP client to start migrating content immediately.

Will I Meet My Regulatory and Compliance Standards After the Transfer?

Egnyte helps you meet the most stringent regulations by using secure file transfer protocols. You no longer have to spend time discussing audit and regulatory requirements. With Egnyte’s SFTP, you benefit from:

  • Automated discovery and classification process across cloud and on-premise sources. Documents get scanned and copied onto the server using SFTP.
  • Enhanced collaboration with granular permission setting ensuring controlled access. Co-edit and share documents with external parties over SFTP to ensure data security.
  • Batch SFTP transfers of sensitive data, detailed audit logs of all file activity, and instant notifications on the first sign of any breach.
  • Automated new client onboarding with workflow approvals that use eSignature to ensure the safe sharing of information with all parties.

How to Ease Your Bulk Files Transfers and Large File Transfers

Millions of files get transferred from one computer or server to another daily. These could be POS files from Walmart, financial records from a bank, copies of test results from a hospital, or academic records from a college. Many bulk transfers still rely on traditional methodologies. Let’s understand how they work.

FTP Servers remain the simplest and fastest way to transfer volumes of data between locations. However, FTPs require multiple ports to be open between servers and do not rely on file encryption, which makes the data susceptible to security risks.

FTPES supports both unencrypted FTP sessions and encrypted FTPS sessions. However, the client must explicitly request a secure session. When organizations do not set up the appropriate security configurations, their data becomes vulnerable to ransomware and security attacks. The firewall considerations are another roadblock to overcome in this method.

Secure File Transmission Protocol is the safest way to transfer sensitive information in bulk. It requires just one open port and has the SSH guarantee of encrypted end-to-end transfer. However, the method is slower than others.

How Does the Egnyte SFTP Make Life Easier?

With Egnyte, you get all the benefits of SFTP with no on-premise FTP server hassles. Let us see how with some real-world case studies across business domains:

  • Finserv: A customer regularly exchanges sensitive documents with business partners. During transfers, they must ensure they remain compliant with industry regulations. They used Egnyte’s SFTP as the FTP server alternative to maintain compliance.
  • AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction): The customer had pages of printed material they required to store digitally. They would scan the documents to create digital copies they shared over e-mail or through an unsecured FTP. SFTP enables them to scan documents directly from the copier into their folders.
  • Healthcare: A customer who performs data processing and research for their partners requires daily batch transfers of sensitive patient information. Their small IT team could not manage daily FTPES transfers. SFTP overcame all such hassles with daily, secured bulk transfers that meet industry regulations without requiring a separate FTP server.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When should I use FTP or SFTP?

    A: When deciding between FTP and SFTP, you must consider the security and performance requirements of the file transfer. FTP is easier to set up and faster, but it doesn’t encrypt the data. On the other hand, SFTP provides a more secure way to connect to a server and transfer information. It uses a secure channel to transfer files and encrypts the data during transmission. Organizations that prioritize data security should prefer SFTP over FTP.

  2. What are the disadvantages or considerations to keep in mind while using FTP?

    A: Using FTP comes with multiple concerns. Firstly, it transfers data as plain text, making it vulnerable to eavesdropping and data theft. Since it does not encrypt files, it becomes a target for cyberattacks, which could compromise sensitive information. Additionally, FTP can seem complex, which makes it difficult for non-technical users. Using FTP can raise compliance concerns, especially when dealing with regulations that mandate data encryption and secure file transfers.

  3. What are the advantages of Secure File Transfer Protocol?

    A: SFTP offers robust security, compliance adherence, and efficient data transfer capabilities, making it a preferred protocol for secure file transfers. Organizations that deal with sensitive or regulated data prefer SFTP over other content-sharing options.

  4. Does FTP or SFTP preserve timestamps?

    A: FTP does not preserve timestamps when transferring files. It only supports a single timestamp for files. On the other hand, SFTP does preserve timestamps. It is an extension of the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, which supports timestamps. When using SFTP, timestamps of files allow for accurate tracking of file creation and modification dates. This feature is particularly useful for organizations that must maintain detailed records of file transfers and comply with GDPR, HIPPA, FIPS 140-2 and other regulations.

  5. Can the Egnyte SFTP help me meet my compliance requirements?

    A: Yes. Several organizations that function in heavily regulated industries, such as finance, healthcare, AEC, and life sciences, rely on Egnyte to transfer bulk data securely. The SFTP eliminates the need for an on-premises FTP server. Additionally, it provides compliance reports to ensure companies meet their FINRA, HIPAA, GDPR, GxP and other regulations. Users get real-time alerts whenever the SFTP identifies content that is not perfectly secure and does not adhere to the set standards.

Ready To Learn More