What is the Best Protocol for Secure FTP?

Olga Weis

FTP, SFTP (FTP over SSH) and FTPS (FTP over SSL) are the most common protocols used for transferring files online. The latter two offer better data security and data protection as compared to standard FTP, hence, they are more preferable. However there are certain differences between them in terms of authentication and implementation. Let us have a closer look at them so you can make a better choice when deciding which protocol will provide better file transfer protection.

File transfer protection

SFTP protocol has basic and key-based authentication. The former requires only a user ID and password to connect to the SFTP server, while the latter makes use of SSH keys instead or in addition to passwords. SSH keys – public and private – need to be generated in advance. Public keys need to be loaded to the server you need to access, so they can be associated with your account there. When you connect to the server, authentication is granted if the keys provided by you match the public keys.

FTPS protocol authentication requires a user ID, password and certificate. On your attempt to connect to the server your FTPS client will check whether the server’s certificate is trusted, e.g. signed off by a known authority or the server’s owner. In turn, the server might want to check if your certificate is signed off by an authority or yourself.

As for implementation – SFTP requires only one port to be opened for it to connect via firewall, while FTPS requires multiple ports and might put your network at risk. In this sense, SFTP might be a better option for file transfer encryption.

How do you connect to a remote server via these protocols?

FTP client Mac

There is a special application that enables you to do it in an easy and efficient way – CloudMounter by Eltima, FTP client Mac users love to use. The software can mount remote servers as local drives on your Mac so you can access and manage their data directly from Finder.

You can create new folders, move, modify and delete files and folders in a remote location in the same way you work with the content stored locally.

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