2023 updates: We double-checked and we're not wrong!

FTPS may seem a little old-school, but it's still relevant in 2023, and this post will explain why.

As for the question of FTPS vs. SFTP, we're here to show you that it's not a comparison.  

We're here to show you how these two protocols should and do work together, in packaged, managed, and wholly optimized cloud trasnfer and storage solutions like SFTP To Go.

So, let's go.

But first, for a quick look at the differences between FTPS and SFTP, watch the FreeITCerts video below.

Let's start with the basics: what is FTPS?

FTPS evolved from the widely used File Transfer Protocol (FTP). It provides additional support for the cryptographic protocols Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), while maintaining all of the functionality offered by FTP.

When using the FTPS protocol, the client and server can be authenticated through FTPS-supported methods such as client and server certificates. With FTPS, both commands and transferred data can be encrypted over the wire.

Furthermore, there are two separate security methods that may be used to set up FTPS connections: “implicit” and “explicit”.

Implicit vs. Explicit FTPS: what's the difference?

With the Implicit Method, the entire session is encrypted using TLS encryption. This indicates that if the client doesn’t make the security request instantly, the server is expected to drop the connection.

Due to this limitation, the implicit method is most commonly considered deprecated.

As for the alternative Explicit Method, a traditional FTP connection is established and immediately after the connection is made, a secure TLS connection is established.

Unlike the implicit method, if the client doesn’t instantly make the security request, it’s the server’s job to either decline the connection or continue with basic FTP processes.

Finally, the client may choose whether or not to encrypt the data channel, and the server can yet again choose either to allow or prohibit insecure requests.

Stuff that happens when you don't know your transfer protocols

FTPS pros

  • If compliance is imperative for your organization, FTPS meets various compliance requirements, such as: PCI DSS, HIPAA, HITECH, SOX, and data privacy laws.
  • FTPS adds a critical security layer to the legacy FTP.
  • All modern clients support FTPS.
  • You can relatively easily set up an FTPS server as part of IIS on Windows servers or by installing 3rd party servers.

FTPS cons

  • FTPS makes use of multiple ports, which makes the management of networking and security problematic when it comes to configuring firewalls and NATs.
  • Linux and Mac don't come bundled with FTP or FTPS clients or servers.

Now that you know a little bit more about FTPS and how it works, it’s time to answer the question at hand—Is FTPS still relevant?

Yes, FTPS is still relevant

As business requirements for security become a prime standard in many industries, most organizations are abandoning old data transfer methods (like FTP) in favor of better ways to securely transfer their sensitive files.

For many FTP users, moving up to FTPS was a natural step. We know it's a popular choice, but is it the best choice?

Your thumbs-up, pixelating because you're still not sure about all this—but we got you

FTPS secures the data transfer channels with robust encryption, offering a shield against many types of cyber-attacks that prey on data in transit.

Moreover, it provides a sense of familiarity for longstanding FTP users, offering an upgraded experience without a steep learning curve.

Yet, while FTPS stands tall as a more secure alternative to FTP, it might not represent the pinnacle of secure file transfer technology available today—at least, not on its own.

What about SFTP, you ask?

SFTP is a different secure file transfer protocol that was built from the ground up—and it's an even more popular option than FTPS.

What if you could harness the integrated strengths of both SFTP and FTPS protocols, further boosted by the robust and cost-effective infrastructure of Amazon S3?

You can.

The convergence of these technologies in a single solution, SFTP To Go, facilitates a seamless, secure, and efficient file management process, providing you with a reliable and cost-effective solution for handling data with ease and assurance.

A visually groovy but super inaccurate representation of data transfer.

SFTP To Go is a fully managed service designed for modern needs, offering dedicated endpoints for SFTP, FTPS, and Amazon S3.

This is where technical sophistication meets user-friendly design, making it a sensible choice for those looking to upgrade their file management system to something more robust, without a steep learning curve.

Choose SFTP To Go for a straightforward approach to secure and efficient file management.

Cloud FTP with maximum security and reliability
SFTP To Go offers managed cloud storage service - highly available, reliable and secure. Great for companies of any size, any scale.
Try SFTP To Go for free!

People also ask

What is FTPS?

FTPS is an evolution of the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) that incorporates support for cryptographic protocols such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It retains all FTP functionalities while adding security measures, including encrypted commands and data transfers, and authentication through FTPS-supported methods such as client and server certificates.

What are the differences between implicit and explicit FTPS?

The implicit FTPS method encrypts the entire session using TLS encryption and requires an immediate security request from the client, failing which the server drops the connection. This method is largely considered deprecated. The explicit method, on the other hand, establishes a traditional FTP connection first, followed by a secure TLS connection. It offers more flexibility, allowing the client to choose whether to encrypt the data channel, and the server to allow or prohibit insecure requests.

What are the pros of using FTPS?

FTPS meets several compliance requirements, including PCI DSS, HIPAA, HITECH, and SOX. It adds a crucial security layer to legacy FTP, is supported by all modern clients, and can be set up relatively easily on various platforms, including as part of IIS on Windows servers.

What are the cons of using FTPS?

FTPS uses multiple ports, complicating network and security management, particularly when configuring firewalls and NATs. Additionally, FTP and FTPS clients or servers are not included with Linux and Mac systems, posing a challenge for users of these operating systems.

Is FTPS still relevant today?

Yes, FTPS remains a relevant option for secure file transfers, especially as organizations prioritize security in various industries. It represents a natural progression from FTP, providing a familiar yet more secure alternative for transferring sensitive files.

How does SFTP compare to FTPS?

SFTP, built from the ground up as a secure file transfer protocol, is a popular alternative to FTPS. It forms part of modern, managed services like SFTP To Go, which combines the strengths of SFTP and FTPS with the infrastructure of Amazon S3, offering a user-friendly solution for secure and efficient file management without a steep learning curve.

What is SFTP To Go?

SFTP To Go is a fully managed service designed to meet modern file management needs, offering dedicated endpoints for SFTP, FTPS, and Amazon S3. It integrates the strengths of SFTP and FTPS with Amazon S3's robust infrastructure, providing a reliable, cost-effective, and user-friendly solution for secure and efficient file management.