What Is SFTP? How Does It Work? Here Is a Full Introduction! [MiniTool Wiki]

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What Is SFTP?

What is SFTP? SFTP is the abbreviation of Secure File Transfer Protocol. It is a file protocol used to transfer large files over the Web. It is built on file transfer protocol (FTP) and includes Secure Shell (SSH) security components.

Secure Shell is an encryption component for Internet security. SSH and SFTP were designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to improve web security. SFTP uses SSH and encrypted FTP commands to transfer files securely to avoid password sniffing and exposing sensitive information in plain text. SFTP can also prevent man-in-the-middle attacks since the client needs to be authenticated by the server,

Tip: If you want to learn information about other protocols, you can go to the MiniTool official website.

What Is SFTP Used for?

As the successor of FTP, SFTP is used in many situations where file security is important.

Any business, even a third party working with a hospital or healthcare provider, must keep its PHI confidential, including during the transition period through the network in the form of digital data packets. This is why SFTP can be used to protect this type of data.

SFTP is one of several options for blocking this data during transmission to ensure that hackers will not obtain it, and if the law applies, the company will not inadvertently violate HIPAA. SFTP can also meet other data protection standards.

Some users who are new to SFTP as a protocol may ask whether it is better to use SFTP or a virtual private network (VPN). Both systems protect data, but they are not the same. SFTP is a protocol, and VPN is a secure data encryption tunnel. With this in mind, you can also use the SFTP protocol to send information through the VPN to make the transmission more secure.

Also see: How to Set Up a VPN on Your Windows 10 PC [Full Guide]

How Does SFTP Work?

How does SFTP work? The SFTP establishes a secure connection through an SSH data stream and provides organizations with a higher level of file transfer protection. This is because SFTP uses encryption algorithms to safely move data to your server and keep files unreadable during the process, and authentication prevents unauthorized file access during operations.

Although the SFTP does not require two-factor authentication, you can choose to require both a user ID and password as well as an SSH key for a more secure connection. Creating SSH keys helps prevent imposters from connecting to the SFTP server. The SSH key pair must be generated in advance.


Now, we will introduce the differences between SFTP, FTP, and FTPS.

FTP, short for File Transfer Protocol, is a standard network protocol designed to transfer computer files between clients and servers on a computer network. Speaking of FTP meaning, the File Transfer Protocol is built on a client-server model architecture, using separate control and data connections between the client and the server.

FTP users can use the clear-text login protocol to authenticate themselves, usually in the form of user name and password, but if the server is configured to allow, you can connect anonymously.

FTPS (also known as FTP-SSL and FTP Secure) is an extension of the commonly used file transfer protocol (FTP), which adds transport layer security (TLS) and the previous secure socket layer (SSL, now RFC7568 forbidden) Encryption protocol.

Since SFTP transfers data in a binary format, file transfers are much faster; therefore, less data is transferred compared to FTPS. SFTP uses only one connection and does not require a dedicated data channel. SFTP connections are always secured using SSH. In addition to file transfer, SFTP also includes operations such as permissions and attributes operations and file locking.

Final Words

To sum up, here is all information about secure file transfer protocol. I hope that this post can be helpful for you.

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