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What Web-Based FTP Alternatives Are There?

Most businesses use computers to share files between colleagues and clients. Those who do this through an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site often have experienced FTP server timeouts, had difficulty sending large files or found their current FTP interface difficult to use. Getting an alternative to an FTP server can save a lot of headaches. 

FTP and FTP alternatives — FAQ

Before making the switch to a web-based FTP alternative, you likely have questions about how it works, how it will affect your business and what makes a web-based FTP alternative better than a traditional FTP server. Let's get the answers to these questions and more to ensure you find the best solution for your business. We'll start with the basics.

What is FTP? What are the benefits?

FTP works to transfer files between computers on a network. It has been the go-to solution for businesses that need to share documents quickly. Before FTP, businesses had no choice but to share documents through postage mail, fax or email, none of which supported the file-sharing needs of growing businesses. 

FTP emerged as a solution to these shortcomings, as it enabled businesses to share files — even large files — in an instant and was extremely easy to set up. Thanks to FTP, businesses could finally say goodbye to the headaches associated with slow turnaround times and file-size limits.

What are the disadvantages to using a traditional FTP site?

As technology becomes more advanced and FTP ages, the drawbacks of FTP are quickly outshining its benefits. As an article published by SAPInsider states: 

"For years, companies looking to transfer large files — both within and outside of their organizations — have used File Transfer Protocol (FTP) solutions to do so. Whether moving master data from one SAP instance to another, exchanging payroll information with an internal HR system, sharing product lists with customers, sending financials to third-party accountants or moving videos from point to point, FTP has been the large file transfer strategy of choice.

"Today, however, the 40-year-old FTP is showing its age. In a business environment increasingly concerned with security, scalability, visibility, compliance and streamlined IT management, FTP is able to deliver none of the above. Even the most basic controls are missing, including a way to trace senders and recipients in the event of a data leak."

Additionally, when you share your FTP credentials with colleagues and clients, which you must do to transfer files to them using FTP, you are giving them access to every other folder stored on the FTP server — a risky move in today's cyber climate. An article in Security Week notes the following:

"A shortcoming with traditional FTP and even encrypted FTP sessions is that after the data is done moving, it sits on the FTP or SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) server in plain text. As the FTP or SFTP server is commonly connected to the Internet to allow business partners access to it, the data is at risk of being retrieved and shared. FTP passwords can also be susceptible to attack when in clear text as any network sniffer can hijack it. Moreover, FTP technology can slow down business processes, as an organization’s IT team often needs to modify FTP scripts in order to support a new business initiative or bring on a new business partner that needs to exchange sensitive information with the system."

Finding a web-based FTP alternative for your business will help it run at its most efficient, productive and profitable. 

Why is cloud-based file sharing better than traditional FTP?

Much like how FTP web clients helped solve the file-sharing challenges of standard mail, fax and email, web-based software is helping to solve the challenges of traditional FTP.

Citrix ShareFile, an industry leader in cloud-based file-sharing software for small businesses and enterprises, is an FTP alternative that can help your organization overcome the pain points of FTP file-sharing. These advantages make ShareFile a better option for file-sharing than traditional FTP sites.

1. Convenience. The cloud has changed the way most of us work and play. According to CNN, "There are many advantages to using the cloud. Since the videos, photos, documents, games and other software that lives in the cloud are available on any device with an Internet connection, you can access your stuff from anywhere." 

With ShareFile, the same goes for your business files — you can access them from home, on your morning commute, even on a business trip. When your work documents are stored in the cloud, you will have access to them no matter where you are. 

2. Reliability. ShareFile houses your data on established servers and has multiple backup strategies in place to protect against lost data. Not only are your files regularly backed up to disaster recovery datacenters, they are mirrored in real time to an additional server location to ensure service will be quickly restored. 

3. Security. Remember all of FTP's security issues that we mentioned earlier? With ShareFile, you can rest easy knowing that your files are safe and secure. In fact, ShareFile's secure FTP alternative uses the same 128-bit SSL encryption used by banks, the government and other institutions that handle highly classified information. We also monitor data 24/7 to ensure your information is always accessible and secure. Some additional security features of ShareFile include:

  • Securely configured firewalls, which limit access to network segments
  • Multi-factor authentication, which requires more than one method of authentication to verify a user's identity
  • File retention, which enables users to choose how long a file is active before it is automatically deleted
  • Customized folder permissions, which enables administrators to limit who has access to certain folders on an account
  • Remote wipe, which allows administrators to lock or wipe a device remotely in the case it is lost or stolen

If you don't think security is an issue for your business, consider this: a recent survey found that 90 percent of businesses admitted to having a security incident. Kaspersky Lab, the organization that published the results of this survey, had this to say:

"On average, it costs more than half a million U.S. dollars to recover from a security breach for an enterprise. The average expected loss for SMBs is $38,000. These are only direct losses: money businesses have to allocate to pay for professional services, to cover lost contracts and downtime. Indirect damages, i.e. the budget businesses have to allocate for additional staff hiring and training, infrastructure upgrades, etc. are on average $69,000 for large businesses and $8,000 for SMBs."

An FTP solution for enterprise customers

Large businesses have special needs when it comes to a web-based enterprise FTP alternative. The following video explains some of the services that ShareFile provides to our enterprise customers.

Video highlights

  • The ShareFile Enterprise feature provides management and control functionality, enabling IT administrators to deliver a secure service that meets corporate data policies and compliance requirements.
  • ShareFile storage zones allow organizations to store data on premise, putting control of corporate data access in the hands of IT administrators.
  • Storage zones can be easily integrated with existing company infrastructures.
  • Account administrators can configure user device security presets and utilize security features such as remote wipe to control access to company data at will.
  • ShareFile Personal Cloud Connector allows users to access and copy data stored on personal cloud services. 
  • ShareFile accounts may be customized with a split login page, enabling organizations to offer company credential logins for employees while retaining the normal email login for clients.
  • The ShareFile User Management Tool allows for provisioning of employee accounts and distribution groups through an active directory. Using the user management tool, administrators can easily keep their ShareFile account in sync with the company directory.
  • ShareFile On Demand Sync is a file synchronization tool designed for shared virutal desktop environments, including XenApp and XenDesktop, allowing organizations to cut network load and manage bandwidth requirements and storage costs.

ShareFile is used by countless businesses as an FTP alternative across several verticals, including accounting, legal, financial, engineering, architecture, construction, healthcare, insurance and real estate. 

In the following video, JT Vaughn, senior analyst for Cherokee Investment Partners, explains how he uses ShareFile for business. 

In the above video, JT Vaughn explains,

"The amount of information that needs to be exchanged in any given deal, whether it's a venture deal or a real estate deal, is massive. Keeping track of all that data in an organized way and sharing it with the appropriate parties in an organized and secure manner is a task in and of itself. That could be someone's full-time job.

"I use ShareFile for everything, especially on the real estate side, you generate a ton of files. So you need to be able to share those files with architects, with engineers, with consultants, so ShareFile really enables us to do that. 

"When you're sharing all these files, you can password protect it if you need to, you can have sign-ins so you can see who is using which files or who is downloading which files. That functionality just allows you to keep track of everything in a more detailed manner. And because of the nature of our business, we might look at venture deals or real estate deals all over the globe.

"If you did not have access to your files, especially on the mobile device, it would be pretty prohibitive from an efficiency standpoint. And so it has been really useful for us to be able to pull up any given presentation on our laptop or iPad and walk an investor through that." 

Sign up for a free trial

We understand that implementing web-based file-sharing software can seem like a big investment, with or without all of its promised benefits. This is why we offer a free no obligation 30-day trial, so that you can try out ShareFile before you buy. To sign up for a free trial, simply fill out this form and then click Start my free trial. 

Still have questions? We are available 24/7 to assist you. Give us a call today!