Top 5 Best Alternatives to FTP on Linux / Windows (Pros and Cons)

Top 5 Best Alternatives to FTP on Linux / Windows (Pros and Cons). In this article, I am going to describe the top 5 best alternatives to FTP servers. Firstly, I’ll explain what an FTP server is with Linux and Windows system. I will also discuss it’s pros and cons and their differences and move onto best FTP alternatives. 

Shall we start our article Top 5 Best Alternatives to FTP on Linux / Windows (Pros and Cons).

What is a FTP server?

An FTP server is an application that allows you to transfer files from one device to another. It performs two simple tasks: “download” and “paste”. This means you can “download” a file from an FTP server or “upload” a file to an FTP server. After the file is uploaded, then it is transferred from the personal device to the server. Alternatively, the file will be transferred to your personal device when downloading from the server. Therefore, at the most basic level, the FTP server sits somewhere between the recipient and the sender.

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the basic network communication that allows you to transfer digital files from a server to a computer.

It supports an FTP file transfer database via a standard communication protocol that works at the network level to establish a secure connection between devices in a client-server architecture and efficiently transfer data over the Internet.

How does FTP work?

The basic explanation is that FTP uses two connections: the control channel and the data channel. The control channel creates a connection between two computers and establishes all authentication information. A data channel is responsible for transferring data between two computers.

Firstly, the FTP servers extend beyond other servers by making it easy to transfer files over the Internet. Secondly, they act as an intermediary between devices. Thanks to two devices called FTP clients connected to the Internet and a specific FTP server it allows you to transfer and download data between them.

What often differs between different FTP servers is the security of FTP access. In cybersecurity, some FTPs allow anonymous login, while others require a username, password, or MFA.

Benefits and Features of FTP server

  • Provides a level of security.
  • It improves workflow.
  • It has a resume function, which allows you to transfer files even in the absence of a connection.
  • Send large File Sizes.
  • Disaster and backup Recovery.
  • Collaboration.
  • Simplicity.
  • Increased Speed.
  • File Sharing among Workgroups.
  • Multiple Access Methods..
  • Scalability Features.
  • Top  Security and Compliance.

Pros of FTP server

  • It is widely used due to its standardization.
  • Use tools like like FileZilla or WinSCP to make FTP easy to use.
  • Works with all operating system users (Linux, Windows, Mac) where you can connect to the server via FTP or a secure FTP form.
  • The data is transferred over a separate TCP connection from the control commands. They allow very fast data transfer.
  • Autosave is also available in this protocol, which is a good thing.
  • You can keep your file transfers on schedule and it will automatically do its job at the specified time.
  • Never lose file transfer progress.
  • Transfer multiple file directories at once.
  • Loads of FTP client programs allowing you to schedule file / directory transfers in your own way instead of having to change your work patterns.
  • Auto backup is the most important FTP feature that works well with businesses that cannot lose patient data in any way.

Cons of FTP server

  • It has high latency due to its connection oriented nature.
  • It does not support integrity check on the receiver side.
  • Multiple TCP/IP connections are used. Firewall hinders use of such connections.
  • If your password is not strong, hackers can easily guess it by generating different password combinations using a brute force attack.
  • Not all FTP servers offer data encryption and transferring data without encryption is not secure.
  • No roles and permissions to customize access.
  • No audit trails to track leaks.

Top 5 Alternatives to FTP server Linux / Windows

1. SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol)

SFTP has emerged as an alternative to FTP and is often referred to as secure FTP.

The most important advantage of SFTP databases is the ability to create and encode large amounts of data between the client and the server. Therefore, we can conclude that the data between SFTP databases is very well encrypted. Very useful with uploading files to Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress.

The advanced SSH protocol allows you to transfer files over a secure SFTP connection.

Pros of SFTP server

Cons of SFTP server

  • The standards define specific things as optional or recommended. It may lead to compatibility problems between different software developed by different vendors.
  • The private keys has to be stored on the device from where you aim to transfer files, which needs to be protected against theft or loss.
  • SSH keys are not easy to manage and validate.
  • The communication is binary and can’t be logged.

2. FTPS (File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS)

Next FTP alternative is FTPS . Uses SSL certificate when authenticating for extra security. FTPS encrypts the command and data channels where authentication of your connection happens by using a user ID and password combination, a certificate, or both.

The FTPS runs in two modes – explicit and implicit. It is helpful when transferring files from mobile devices to an FTP server.

Also it creates a secure connection between the client and server for file transfer with  SSL for more security.

Pros of FTPS server

  • Well known and widely used.
  • SSL as a widely used authentication mechanism.
  • Easy to implement.
  • No restrictions on the number of trading partners.
  • Support for multiple listeners with configurable port numbers.
  • Remote administration and monitoring through a browser-based interface.
  • Robust security and granular permission controls.
  • Administrators can view active sessions for logged in users.
  • Event triggers to automatically process files or send email notifications.
  • Allows only strong NIST certified encryption algorithms when in FIPS 140-2 Compliance mode.

Cons of FTPS server

  • No uniform directory listing format.
  • Hard to use behind firewalls (requires secondary DATA channel).
  • Not all FTP servers support SSL/TLS.
  • Does not specify a requirement for filename character sets (encodings).

3. AS2 (Applicability Statement 2)

AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) is a file transfer protocol (FTP) and supports automatic file transfer between servers. It is suitable for two or more parties that frequently transact with each other and requires a paperless transfer that ensures the integrity, security and reliability of the message.

This file transfer AS2 is similar to to FTPS as it also uses HTTP/S and TLS for encryption when transporting files.

It is able to transmit most types of data over the Internet, AS2 mainly deals with the transmission of EDI messages. In order for us to understand how AS2 works, we must first start with Electronic Data Interchange (or EDI).

Pros of AS2 server

  • Security with end-to-end encryption.
  • Flexibility.
  • Relatively low cost.
  • Digital signatures.
  • Authentication.
  • Validation of file integrity, ensuring files are not corrupted or manipulated in transmission.
  • The ability to use MDNs or receipts to verify files have been successfully received and decrypted.

Cons of AS2 server

  • High maintenance costs due to multiple signed certificates from business partners.
  • Commonly available ports for AS2 communication on the firewall.
  • Bilateral partner management (point-to-point connection, exchange of keys).

4. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)

Next FTP server alternative is HTTPS. It stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a protocol that is designed to secure communication between two systems, such as a browser and a web server. Ideal for providing identity and confidentiality

The protocol protects users from eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. It also protects legitimate domains from DNS (Domain Name System) spoofing attacks.

Pros of HTTPS server

  • Encryption and Protection.
  • Verification.
  • Data Validation.
  • SEO.

Cons of HTTPS server

  • Cost.
  • Performance.
  • Caching.
  • Accessibility.
  • Computing Overhead.

5. MFT (Managed File Transfer)

MFT is a technology platform that uses administrative controls, supports security protocols (such as HTTPS, SFTP, FTPS), and automation features to help companies securely share different types of data, including sensitive or compliance protected data in the form of large amounts of data transfer.

Pros of MFT server

  • Better Encryption and Centralize File Transfers.
  • Stronger Security.
  • More Efficient and Effective File Transfers.
  • Automate and streamline workflows.
  • Easy to Use, Intuitive and Painless.
  • Easily Meets Compliance Requirements.

Cons of MFT server

  • Fewer potential functions.
  • Very time consuming to setup and maintain.
  • It may lack security/auditability features.

That is it! Here are the Top 5 Best Alternatives to FTP on Linux / Windows (Pros and Cons). Let’s conclude. 

Top 5 Best Alternatives to FTP on Linux / Windows Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading our list of the 5 Best Alternatives to FTP for Windows and Linux. The FTP is still commonly used but SFTP is more secure, especially the sensitive files due to its encryption. Please check out other file transfer choices from above list to apply it your needs.

FTP server is extremely important in transferring files from one computer to another over the Internet. All of the above mentioned are some of the most popular and FTP server alternatives clients and are packed with many unique features. Each of them is very efficient in the work they do and definitely worth considering.

Check our FTP content here.

Avatar for Kamil Wisniowski
Kamil Wisniowski

I love technology. I have been working with Cloud and Security technology for 5 years. I love writing about new IT tools.

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