Choosing a file transfer solution for Windows can be a challenge. The two most popular options: SFTP and FTPS, each have advantages and disadvantages that can impact your business. This blog post will compare SFTP versus FTPS to help you understand which protocol best supports your needs.
What are the Differences Between SFTP and FTPS?
The main difference between SFTP and FTPS is the underlying transport module:
- SFTP is an extension to the SSH (Secure Shell) protocol
- FTPS uses SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to add a layer of security around the FTP protocol. Also known as Transport Layer Security (TLS), FTPS allows two entities to securely connect and communicate and is a more popular protocol as it functions much in the way we use the internet with SSL/TLS.
We’ve written a detailed blog on the specific differences between FTPS and SFTP at this link.
SFTP Integration in Windows
Windows added SFTP support in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019, making it a more recent addition that requires a bit more setup than FTP. Using SFTP on Windows will also require the installation of OpenSSH to encrypt all traffic between client and server. An OpenSSH-compatible Windows client can then be used to connect a Windows SFTP server.
- Has a strong requirements background that strictly specifies most, potentially all, elements of operations
- A single data connection makes it easy to use behind a firewall
- Has only one connection, and does not require a DATA connection
- Your connection is always protected
- Consistent and machine-readable directory site listing
- Has operations for consent and quality adjustment, file locking, and more capabilities
- Supported by Linux and UNIX servers by default
- Supports more file and directory commands than any other protocol
- Capable of file system operations like file lock, permission and attribute manipulation, and symbolic link creation
- Client/server interaction is binary and cannot be logged plainly for human reading
- SSH secrets are more difficult to handle and verify
- Different software using the same protocol may generate compatibility issues when specifying specific transmission data as optional or suggested, which are not universally supported
- Does not support server-to-server copy
- Does not support recursive directory site removal operations
- Does not have integrated SSH/SFTP assistance in VCL and .NET structures
- More difficult to configure properly
- Does not have built-in support in .NET framework
FTPS on Windows
FTPS operates in a Windows environment through a client-server model by having the data travel through a network using either Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols. FTP support is built into Windows and can be set up in a few clicks:
- Access Control Panel
- In Control Panel, click Programs and Features
- Click Turn Windows Features on or off.
- Expand Internet Information Services
- Expand FTP Server.
- Select your FTP Service
- Works in operating systems that have FTP support but not SSH/SFTP clients
- Well-known, understood, and utilized
- Easy to implement
- Offers services for server-to-server file transfer
- SSL/TLS has robust authentication systems (X. 509 certification functions)
- FTP and SSL/TLS support is common across numerous web interactions structures
- Server and client communications can be read by humans, making it easier to troubleshoot a connection attempt
- Support for mobile devices
- Support for the .NET Framework
- No consistent directory site listing format
- Needs a secondary DATA channel, which is difficult to use behind firewall programs
- Does not specify a requirement for filename character sets (encodings)
- Not all FTP servers support SSL/TLS (particularly older servers)
- Does not have a conventional method to obtain and alter file or directory site characteristics
- Cannot perform file system operations
- Uses multiple ports, making firewall configuration more complicated
So which file transfer protocol is best for Windows, SFTP or FTPS? There is no clear winner based on the Windows environment alone. Instead, your business needs will determine the best protocol. We have another blog to help your decision-making process regarding your business needs: to learn more about FTPS and SFTP, click here.