Should I Use Online FTP Solutions or an In-House FTP Server?

    If you’re thinking about building your own in-house FTP solution, there are a number of factors you should consider first. Learn how in-house FTP solutions stand up to their hosted online FTP alternatives.

    Initial Setup Costs

    Cost is a huge concern for any company. You want to ensure the file sharing solution you choose comes at a sustainable cost to your company.

    In-House Servers

    Dedicated Hardware  - $2,000+
    The foundation of your in-house file sharing solution is the dedicated hardware you’re running it on. Based on the size of your operation, this server cost could vary. This estimate is very conservative.
    Operating Systems - $500+

    An operating system for FTP servers is how you’ll run your solution. And with a number of OS options to choose from, like Windows or another competitor, you need to establish your company's needs before you start shopping around. 

    FTP or SFTP Server License - $3,000-$6,000

    To run your in-house server, you need to license FTP software. This is one of the largest upfront costs associated with building your own in-house FTP solution.  

    Business-Class Firewall - $500+
    If you handle sensitive data, a firewall is essential for preventing unwanted access to your server. A business-class firewall is the only way to avoid malicious attacks.  
    Business-Class Internet Package - $200-$1,000

    For your server to be instantly accessible to all your employees, you need a business-class, high-speed internet package. Like other aspects of your file sharing solution, the amount you would spend on your internet package is dependent on the number of people using your file sharing solution. 

    Battery Backup - $500

    When the unexpected happens, like the electricity going out, you want to be sure that your file sharing solution is up and running, and no data is lost. A battery backup powers your server for a few hours until the electricity is back. 

    Storage Backup - $2,000

    In addition to the power going out, a disaster could threaten your data. From a breach in security to a flood, there are a number of reasons you could lose data, unless you have storage backup.

    Hosted FTP

    Instead of listing out the costs associated with an online FTP solution, it’s easier to see what costs you don’t have to pay for. With an online FTP you face:

    • No equipment or server infrastructure cost
    • No primary or backup server cost
    • No extra staff (your FTP host employs dedicated support)
    • No time-consuming hardware installation

    Hosted FTP solutions have no setup charges. When it comes down to cost, an online FTP solution is hard to beat. You avoid every upfront cost otherwise needed to build an  in-house solution.


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    Ongoing Maintenance Costs

    Here you'll want to compare the ongoing costs of your do-it-yourself in-house solution to the monthly or annual subscription costs of a hosted FTP solution.


    In-House Servers

    Software Maintenance and Upgrades - $750-$1,500 per year

    To keep up with advanced threats from hackers and maintain usability, you need an FTP software that’s constant upgraded. And, you want to minimize the impacts to productivity, so a regularly maintained file sharing solution is a must. Total Cost: About 25% of your initial licensing fee

    Salaried Staff - $15,000- $20,000 per year

    Because your solution needs to be running efficiently 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it takes a full-time employee to maintain it. Unless your IT team has time to spare, which many don’t, you’ll need a salaried staff to build and maintain your in-house FTP solution. With 25% of someone’s full-time salary being spent on managing.

    Hosted FTP

    With a hosted online FTP solution, you invest less time in maintaining and running the solution. The FTP host is responsible for the following administrative tasks:

    • Providing administrator and end user support
    • Training users (typically through video sessions)
    • Installing upgrades to your solution
    With an online FTP, all of the administrative responsibilities are off your shoulders. Your solution can be set up mere hours after initial subscription, and you avoid ongoing maintenance and support requirements.
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    Security Comparison

    Keeping files secure is one of the top goals of any file sharing solution. Whether you’re building your solution on your own or investing in an online option, you need to assess your security requirements. If security is concern for your company, consider these two areas carefully. 



    Companies in industries like healthcare, finance, defense contracting, and more know how vital it is to stay compliant with government regulations. When you build your own file sharing solution, you’re responsible for maintaining compliance yourself. In some ways, you benefit. You can build your file sharing solution to your exact specifications, ensuring you are compliant with today’s regulations.

    However, there are some drawbacks. Compliance regulations change to stay current with new and developing threats. So, while your in-house file sharing solution might be compliant today, that doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. Also, the compliant features your solution would need – like a top firewall or industry-best encryption – cost more money than non-compliant alternatives.

    With an online FTP solution on the other hand, you rely on your FTP host to keep your solution compliant. A top FTP solution like FTP Today will have everything you need to be compliant with the following industry regulations:

    • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)
    • ITAR is the International Traffic in Arms Regulations
    • PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
    • SOX (Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002)
    • GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)

    You can count of your FTP host to keep up with compliance standards, and you have to exert very little effort to make sure your solution keeps data safe. 

    User Access Permissions

    User access permissions keep your files protected from malicious parties. Access controls or the ability to determine who can take which actions when using your file sharing solution, are an effective way of limiting who can use your files and for what purpose.

    With an in-house FTP, you can always build these access controls into your solution, but that requires more time and a greater investment of resources, such as the most expensive FTP server software in the $6,000+ price range.

    Look for an online FTP solution that allows you to set the following user permissions:

    • Upload
    • Download
    • Delete
    • List Directory
    • Any combination of the above

    Business Benefits

    Finally, consider the business benefits that the right file sharing solution could bring to your company.

    Attract Top Talent

    As people rely on mobile devices and cloud solutions, working remote is more common than ever before. Today, you can work from anywhere, as long as you have access to the internet and your company uses cloud solutions. With an online FTP solution, your employees can easily work remote, without data security being an issue. When you offer a perk like working from home, you’re sure to attract the best talent in your industry.

    Prevent Data Loss

    While you don’t want your files to fall into the wrong hands, you do want an FTP solution that allows you to share files easily and securely. Expiring links are one way to prevent data loss. Top online FTP solutions like FTP Today let you send expiring links to users and non-users, like clients and vendors, alike. Expiring links are easy to share and because they expire, you don’t have to worry about a link sent in an old email being compromised.

    Automate Essential Tasks

    One way to put hours back into your day is by choosing a file sharing solution that automates tasks. With an online FTP solution, you can automate tedious tasks like deleting files after a certain period of time or creating reports about your file sharing history. With these capabilities, you can save time and turn your focus to other responsibilities.

    Ultimately, an online FTP solution meets all the requirements for a secure FTP, without the need to make large upfront or ongoing investments. Building your own in-house FTP server will only lead to high costs and a lot of headaches.

    With a hosted online FTP, you’re partnering with experts in secure files sharing, and they’re responsible for ensuring your solution is up and running efficiently. With an online FTP, you’ll save time and money, and you’ll have an industry-leading FTP solution that improves your data sharing practices.


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