Questions to Ask Prospective File Transfer Services

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If you’re looking to send very large files over the Internet, you may have already found that email isn’t an option. In those cases, you’ll want to use something called a file transfer protocol, or FTP, a standard network protocol that transfers computer files from one host to another. FTP is the method most website owners use to put content onto their servers, or any businesses use to distribute large amounts of data.

If you’re not a particularly tech-savvy person, or if your business doesn’t want to waste time learning how to use a command-line version of FTP, then managed file transfer services are probably the best option for you. But how can you find the right provider? Here are five questions to ask when looking at your software and service options:

  1. What Sizes of Files Will We Be Able to Transfer?

    Since file size is the biggest motivation to use an FTP in the first place, you’ll definitely want to confirm that whatever limits file transfer services place on you won’t be a problem. This is also a good time to ask about speeds; you don’t want it to take forever to transfer your data.

  2. What General Security Measures Do You Take?

    Even if the data you’re transferring isn’t particularly private, you’ll want to make sure whatever FTP provider you’re considering is attentive to security concerns. There have been a number of high-profile data breaches just in the past year, and people are jumpy about even the appearance of lax security these days.

  3. What Kind of Data Encryption Do You Use?

    If you’re truly working with sensitive information, then you’ll want to look for an SFTP. What is SFTP? It stands for “secure file transfer protocol,” and ensures that data is sent over a private, secured data stream. You’ll also want to ask whether the file transfer services in question protect data only while it’s being transferred (called in-motion encryption) or also once it’s been transferred (called at-rest encryption).

  4. What Kind of Automation Services Do You Offer?

    Even an FTP with a great user interface won’t be that helpful to you if you have to initiate each and every transfer manually. You’ll find it saves your business quite a lot of time to automate certain kinds of transfers, so that’s a feature you won’t want to budge on.

  5. What Customer Support Will Be Available, and When?

    If you’re purchasing software or paying for a company to oversee your data transfers, it’s important you be able to reach that company with questions or concerns through multiple channels and at convenient times. Data management is an integral part of most modern businesses, and that means it’s worth prioritizing customer care in this case, even if it means paying a bit more.

Do you have any other questions or insight regarding SFTP file transfers or data delivery methods in general? Join the discussion in the comments.

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