September 4, 2019

    How Does an FTP Server Work and What are Its Benefits?

    Using an FTP server is a common solution for businesses that want to keep their data safe. If you’re looking for the right option to maintain data security, a hosted FTP server could be the answer. Learn more about what FTP servers are, how they work, and how they can benefit your business. 

    What is FTP?

    You may have heard of FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, but you might be unsure what it is exactly. At its core, the file transfer protocol is a way to connect two computers to one another in the safest possible way to help transfer files between two or more points. To put it simply, it’s the means by which files are securely shared between parties. 

    How Do FTP Servers Work?

    FTP servers are the solutions used to facilitate file transfers across the internet. If you send files using FTP, files are either uploaded or downloaded to the FTP server. When you’re uploading files, the files are transferred from a personal computer to the server. When you’re downloaded files, the files are transferred from the server to your personal computer. TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), or the language the internet uses to execute commands, is used to transfer files via FTP.




    Personal Computer --------> Server




    Server --------> Personal Computer


    FTP servers can be considered the midpoint between the sender and the recipient of a file. For FTP servers to work, you need the server address. Here’s an example of what this address may look like “”. Sometimes, the server address will be given as a numeric address, like “12.345.678.90”.

    Depending on the type of FTP server you use and the level of security that is needed, you may have to input a username and password. Some FTP servers allow for anonymous connection, which does not require you to enter a name or password to gain access.

    5 Benefits of FTP Servers

    Although FTP is one way to transfer files, there are certainly other options. So, what is the benefit of using FTP over another means of transfer? Here are five benefits that companies can reap when they use FTP servers as opposed to other transfer options. 


    Ultimately, the biggest benefit of using FTP servers over other choices is the level of security that these managed options can provide. FTPS and SFTP, both secure (encrypted) file transfer protocols, adds another layer of security to traditional FTP transfers, and many FTP servers support both FTPS and SFTP to better protect data that is shared. This gives you the added assurance that your sensitive files won’t fall into the wrong hands, as they are encrypted in transit.

    When you send data, especially sensitive data, you may be concerned that other parties could intercept your transfer. In fact, anyone with the right tools or a little bit of knowledge could be capable of intercepting files. You may also be concerned that your transfers may be subject to viruses or other malware. Fortunately, when you use a managed FTP server, the expert vendor is responsible for providing the security necessary to keep data safe.


    Another benefit of using an FTP server is the level of control that you can gain over your data. Many FTP servers, especially industry-leading ones, offer granular access controls allowing your administrators to determine who can upload, download, edit, delete, or share files; and what folders they have certain permissions within. 

    Not everyone in your organization needs the same level of access to your files. For example, the CFO might need to see sensitive financial records, while your intern does not. The ability to control file and solution access based on individual user accounts can add even more security to your files.

    Large File Sizes

    Have you ever tried to send a file to a recipient via email, only to receive a message that your file is too large to send? If your organization deals with a massive amount of data, you won’t want your entire file sharing process to be interrupted due to files that are too large. Instead, you can use an FTP server that enables you to send gigabytes of data all at once.

    Improved Workflow

    Having a file sharing process that is not uniform across your organization can have a negative impact on your business productivity. Instead of sharing a single file at a time, you can send large amounts of data in an instant. You can also continue to work while large transfers are being made or schedule massive transfers for nights or weekends, so your workflow is not interrupted.

    Also, having an FTP server gives you a single location to store all of your files. This reduces the amount of time your team spends hunting for a specific piece of data. It also reduces the chance for lost files. 

    Disaster Recovery

    You never know when you may run into issues with lost or compromised data. When you choose a top FTP provider, your vendor can ensure that your files are never lost, from your everyday data to your most important and sensitive files. 

    When disaster strikes, like an interruption to your internet connection, a loss of power, or even an actual natural disaster, you don’t have to worry about losing work. Instead, your data is regularly and automatically backed up to another location. Then, if you need to restore your data, you can do so by coordinating with your FTP vendor

    Knowing a little bit more about what FTP servers are and the benefits that come with using them allows you to make the best decisions possible about your data. Storing your data in secure locations gives you the confidence that it will be safe from disaster or compromise. Be sure you choose to partner with an FTP vendor who can offer you all the benefits listed above.

    Find out more about your top file-sharing options. Download this free comparison guide now to learn about the best FTP and SFTP providers in the industry.


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    Martin Horan

    Founder of Sharetru (Formerly FTP Today) and a respected voice in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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