Buying an FTP service requires a bit of work if you want to make an informed decision and get the service best suited to the use cases for your business.
FTP is an old protocol, but in 2022 many services combine hosted FTP with modern features to fit your business’s needs.
What Is an FTP Service?
An FTP service is a platform that lets you connect to a cloud server with FTP, FTPS, and SFTP. Typically, most modern FTP services come bundled with many additional features, like an easy-to-use web interface that lets you manage the platform.
You won’t have to worry about data security with a service that offers encryption, two-factor authentication, or HIPAA compliance if that’s required for your business. Buying an FTP service reduces worry and risk, and is often much friendlier on the budget than homegrown solutions.
Historically FTP Service Was Set Up In-House
Organizations, by and large, used to, and today some still do, task their trusty IT departments with establishing FTP service for various departments to use. Doing so requires the use of an in-house system configured to run the FTP service. If you don’t already have an FTP server that is suitable for the amount of intended use, you’d have to acquire one.
Typically, you’d want to configure the server to run both FTPS and SFTP, providing the maximum flexibility for employees or partners that need to connect and transfer files. Although possible to do, configuring and running a server can take a lot of extra work depending on what software package you choose. You may need to run two separate service instances — one for FTPS and one for SFTP.
Risks of an On-Premise Server
When you have a physical server somewhere in your organization, you’re often taking on unnecessary risk.
Unless you have access to a secure datacenter grade facility, you’ll be keeping the server in an office. Electrical blackouts, equipment failures, and natural disasters can all pose a threat. These events aren’t that uncommon in reality and happen to businesses every day. Having an on-premise server means also having backup equipment, offsite data backups, and more. That is, if you want to secure and compliant in any way.
Physical security threats are also a risk. The last thing you want is your server walking away with sensitive data. Espionage and sabotage are real things in the business world, and especially in specific verticals that deal with data that could provide high value to thieves. Having servers physically on-site exposes them to many threats if you don’t have proper security protocols in place for access to the hardware.
FTP in the Cloud
For many organizations setting up FTP and SFTP service in-house is just not realistic. Buying an FTP Service from a provider is a much more feasible solution that doesn’t require the need to employ IT staff.
A service with cloud-based access and features is becoming a staple for many businesses. With providers like ExaVault, you can establish FTP service in minutes. Most platforms will also have a list of value-adds that are hard to achieve with in-house IT, like a pleasant interface for users. Above all, you get service being delivered to your employees no matter where they are, empowering borderless productivity.
Save Money and Development Time
With an FTP service, you no longer bear the risk of having physical servers in your office. The security, patching, and management become somebody else’s problem.
Many FTP service providers are continually improving their FTP services — the architecture behind the file delivery, the experience of the web interface, the API and webhook abilities, and much more. That’s all development you would have to pay for in-house with multiple back-end engineers, front-end engineers, designers, product managers, and QA folks.
FTP Hosting Service — Key Features To Consider
When selecting an FTP service provider, what are some of the key features you should consider? Here are a few things you should expect when buying an FTP service.
- Direct FTP Access
- Secure FTP (SFTP) and FTP-SSL Support
- Custom Branding Options
- Flexible User Permissions
- Comprehensive Logging
- Activity Notifications
- Real-time Backups
Compatibility & Accessibility
You’ll certainly want compatibility with FTP, FTPS, and SFTP when you purchase a hosted FTP service. But that’s just the beginning — another big reason non-technical folks prefer signing up for an FTP service rather than hosting in-house is that most services come with a web interface. Browser access makes management of both files and users tremendously easier compared to the old-school way of doing things.
Industries that rely on a lot of creative components are heavy adopters of FTP sites to exchange files with clients. Blueprints, photoshoots, mock-ups, and other design documents are some examples of work that results in large files or folders full of smaller files that need to be uploaded and downloaded regularly.
An intuitive FTP site that you can access from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone via a web browser makes the process very manageable. Uploading files is also easy with drag and drop functionality, a hallmark of modern FTP sites.
Cloud-Based FTP Service Administration
One of the most under-appreciated benefits of buying an FTP service from a cloud provider is having more than one person in your organization with the ability to manage the account and create FTP login credentials.
In the olden days, a marketing staffer would have to go to IT with a request for an FTP account to exchange files with an outside partner. That’s a lot of process and waste of IT staff time in addition to the marketer’s time. Compound that across an organization consisting of a thousand individuals or more, and you have a multitude of unnecessary interchanges happening.
An FTP service can handle all of that much more simply. A proper FTP service like ExaVault’s will have good permissions administration to empower folks you trust to create FTP accounts and restrict those you don’t.
Notifications are a common requirement for keeping on top of critical file transfers. Some organizations depend on notifications built into their file sharing platform to manage projects efficiently.
Some industries specifically want to get a notification of all downloaded files, like bids and quotes, so they can follow up with potential clients to close deals. With a top-rated FTP service, you’ll get notifications no matter the source of the file transfer activity — whether it happens via the web interface or an FTP client.
Detailed Access Logs
Detailed access logs are a staple when it comes to requirements for buying and FTP service. Some IT administrators need detailed access logs for auditing all company data transfer, including the IP addresses associated with the users and systems performing file transfers.
Detailed access logs should allow you to:
- Monitor activity in your file transfer account.
- Filter logs so you can view the activity by user, type of activity, IP address, and other data points so you can track down specific log entries.
Logs should provide accurate information that can not be changed in any way.
What Is the Best FTP Service?
Ultimately the industry your business is in has a lot to do with your needs when looking at buying an FTP service vs. in-house FTP. Consider the everyday file exchanges that happen within and around your organization. This will help inform your requirements for shopping FTP service providers. Lastly, don’t settle for a service provider that doesn’t have access to support staff and online documentation.