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What is SFTP - A clue, its not Secure File Transfers

Posted by Michael Lawson on Apr 1, 2024 12:21:42 PM

Believe it or not, its a common question and more nuianced than you would think.


What is SFTP you might ask?

SFTP is currently the most robust and well supported protocol for backend and automated file transfers over the internet. File transfers have been a part of the internet since it was first invented and file transfers are amongst the most frequent operations on the internet today.


The successor to FTP

If you have not heard of FTP, you might have been living in a cave. A pretty big cave. Go back inside, you're probably lost.

SFTP is the successor to FTP and is simpler, faster and more robust than the traditional FTP protocol. FTP was a great solution for how the internet used to work, before NAT and private ip addresses. Before firewalls and hackers. The modern internet has changed a bit and FTP has not stood the test of time.

SFTP fixes a lot of the underlying issues with FTP and adds asymmetric encryption (the magic behind HTTPS) to the mix, which means along with it being incredibly robust and simple in design, it's also extremely secure.


Both FTP and SFTP are well supported by most software to transfer data.

As protocols, both SFTP and FTP are very well supported by systems, which make them ideal for transferring data in an automated way between disparate systems. SFTP is used across the board to transfer anything from banking transactions to power grid logs and everything in between.


Not a file sharing tool

It's worth noting at this point, that SFTP is not a file sharing or collaboration tool.

It could be used in that way, but it's really not well suited to it. Dropbox, Box, SharePoint and Google Drive are just better for this use case. Where SFTP and FTP really shine is when there are robots (computers) talking to each other. You can think of it like a pipe rather than a piece of paper.

Most of the time, SFTP sits in the backend and works its magic, away from the eyes of most. Neat huh.

SFTP is not Secure File Transfers. It is SFTP.



Couchdrop SFTP

So, you might ask, where does Couchdrop fit in. Well remember ^above how I mentioned that Dropbox, Google Drive and SharePoint are not SFTP servers. Well, sometimes you need them to be. And sometimes, you want to standup a SFTP or FTP server, without the "Server Part". This is where Couchdrop shines.

It's an SFTP server for SharePoint, without the server part.

Couchdrop is your scalable SFTP server in the cloud, allowing direct connection of your own storage (or ours) with no need to deploy and manage infrastructure.




Getting Started with Couchdrop

When you first register for Couchdrop, SFTP based access is enabled by default. You have a SFTP server and you didn't have to raise a finger.

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