8 secure file transfer services for the enterprise (2023)

The ability to securely share and synchronize files across systems is a cornerstone of enterprise IT. Millions of transfers occur every day, involving files of all types, sizes and structures.

At its most basic, file transfer technology moves data from one system to another system over a network. Unfortunately, legacy file transfer mechanisms, such as email and FTP, have historically lacked built-in security features.

Today's organizations need confidence that file transfers will not compromise their data's confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA), the primary requirements of information security. The stakes are especially high in large-scale enterprises, where massive amounts of potentially sensitive information constantly move among internal and external users and systems. Secure file transfer services aim to protect an organization's data while moving it from point A to point B.

How secure file transfer works

Secure file transfer services all have a common approach to protecting files: access control.

How this access control is achieved may vary widely among classes of products, not to mention individual products within each class. But the basic idea is that there is some sort of shared secret between the sender and the recipient. It could be as simple as a hard-to-guess URL transferred via email or an agreed-upon password. Or it could be as complex as integration with an enterprise identity and access management system. This shared secret is used to encrypt the file before it is transferred from the sender to the recipient. After getting the encrypted file, the recipient's computer uses the shared secret to decrypt the file.

To meet the CIA requirements of today's enterprises, secure file transfer services need a two-pronged approach:

  1. Secure data. The data itself should have embedded security. Encryption, for example, ensures no one else on a network can access, read or modify the contents of a file as it moves between systems.
  2. Secure delivery. Secure file transfer also involves some sort of reliable delivery, even if it's just provided by TCP/IP Secure file transfer services use a variety of protocols and standards, ranging from established ones, such as Secure FTP(SFTP) and AES, to vendor-specific proprietary protocols.

Types of secure file transfer services

The most basic secure file transfer services, such as those based on Secure Copy Protocol (SCP), have command-line interfaces only, making them best suited for IT rather than end users. They offer few features but are relatively inexpensive to set up and use, compared to other classes of file transfer systems. Some consider this type of transfer advantageous because the organization maintains full control, with no third-party -- e.g., cloud provider -- involvement.

Secure file transfer services based on SFTP are typically more feature-rich than those based on SCP. SFTP-based file transfers often have GUIs available, which make them easier to use. In general, however, both SCP- and SFTP-based systems lack many of the features of more sophisticated file transfer systems.

Another IT system that enables file transfer security is the file hosting service. Originally intended for end-user collaboration, file hosting services also typically offer access control and encryption features that enable a user to email a link to a person that grants them secure access to a file hosted on the service.

The most advanced type of file transfer platform today is managed file transfer (MFT). Secure file transfers typically work directly between a sender and a recipient. In contrast, MFT provides an intermediary system, which may be a dedicated server within the organization's facilities or a cloud-provided service. The file travels from the sender to the MFT repository, where it is strictly protected through access control measures, including encryption of the stored file. The transfer to the recipient from the MFT repository occurs at a later time. This isolates the sender's system from the recipient's system and also permits easier monitoring and tracking of repository and transfer usage by all parties.

Email also provides basic file transfer capabilities and should, therefore, be encrypted for security. Email encryption products can support large file transfers through email messages.

Secure file transfer service features

Organizations investing in secure file transfer services should consider whether they need the following advanced features, which are typically available with MFT offerings and, sometimes, from other types of file transfer services as well:

  • Auditing. Audit logs provide detailed activity and performance data that organizations can use to demonstrate compliance with data privacy standards and regulations. This is especially important if personally identifiable information, such as financial or health data, is in play.

    Legacy file transfer methods, such as SCP, have historically lacked auditing features. File hosting services typically offer at least some file transfer auditing capabilities, while most MFT platforms provide comprehensive audit logs.

  • Automated scheduling. Secure file transfer services offer a range of scheduling capabilities. Basic functionality might mean a user can schedule the transfer of a certain file for a particular time.

    More sophisticated systems can also intelligently stagger the transfer of files that are not time-critical to reduce demands on bandwidth or processing. By managing resource use, this intelligent scheduling can save the organization money and prevent inadvertent denials of service.

8 enterprise-level secure file transfer services

The following section lists eight of the top enterprise-level secure file transfer services. These products offer a variety of features, ranging from basic to advanced.

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1. Box Business

Box product page

Type: File hosting service

Delivery: SaaS. Accessible via a browser-based UI; optional local application download for desktops and mobile devices.

OSes: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: TLS, passive FTP/FTP Secure/Explicit FTPS (Business and Enterprise tiers only; vendor does not recommend FTP/FTPS/FTPES as primary access method). Active FTP is not supported.

Features: Active Directory (AD) and single sign-on (SSO); audit logging; cloud storage; enterprise-friendly design; file synchronization and versioning; HIPAA and FedRAMP compliance (Enterprise tier); integrations with Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack and 1,500+ other enterprise apps; threat detection (Enterprise Plus tier); workflow automation.

Max file size: 150 GB (Enterprise Plus tier)

2. Citrix ShareFile

Citrix product page

Type: MFT

Delivery: SaaS. Accessible via a browser-based UI; optional local application download for desktops and mobile devices.

OSes: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: TLS/SSL, FTP/FTPS.

Features: AD integration; SSO; activity logging; advanced security features, including remote device lock and wipe options; cloud access security broker integration for data loss prevention; centralized management platform; encrypted email (Advanced+ tiers); enterprise-friendly design; file synchronization and versioning; integration with Microsoft 365; HIPAA compliance configuration (Premium tier); plugins for Gmail and Outlook (Advanced+ tiers); unlimited cloud storage.

Max file size: 100 GB (Advanced and Premium tiers)

3. IBM Sterling Secure File Transfer

IBM product page

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Type: MFT

Delivery: Containerized software. Deployed on enterprise-grade servers, either on premises, in the cloud or hybrid.

OSes: Linux, Linux on IBM Z, macOS, multiple Unix platforms, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), FTP, FTPS, Odette FTP 2 (OFTP2), Pretty Good Privacy, SFTP

Features: Automated inbound and outbound file transfers that work across protocols; file synchronization; intelligent, centralized management platform; RESTful APIs that support third-party integrations; scalable offering that supports a wide range of B2B file transfer requirements, for small businesses, midsize businesses and large enterprises.

Max file size: Depends on the protocol: AS2 (2 GB), FTP (10 GB), FTPS (10 GB), OFTP2 (5 GB), SFTP (10 GB)

4. pCloud Business

pCloud product page

Type: File hosting service

Delivery: SaaS. Accessible via a browser-based UI; optional local application download for desktops and mobile devices.

OSes: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: TLS/SSL, AES-256; optional additional encryption uses 4,096-bit RSA for users' private keys and 256-bit AES for per-file and per-folder keys

Features: Activity logging; cost-effective; support for enterprise-scale requirements; optional zero-knowledge client-side encryption; option to encrypt or not encrypt individual files; file sharing, synchronization and versioning; data backups; digital asset management; team-by-team and user-by-user access control; unlimited cloud storage.

Max file size: No limit

5. Peer Global File Service

Peer product page

Type: Cloud-based distributed file management service

(Video) Secure File Transfer

Delivery: SaaS. Management hub is accessible via local application or browser. Software installation required for both management hub and agents.

OSes: Linux, Windows

  • Management hub -- Linux or Windows dedicated server
  • Agents -- Windows file servers

Protocols and standards supported: TCP/IP, TLS/SSL

Features: Automated large file transfers; support for multisite file sharing across cloud, hybrid and on-premises environments; integrations with all major storage platforms; central management console; comprehensive activity logs; AD integration; file synchronization; anomalous event detection.

Max file size: No limit

6. Resilio Connect

Resilio product page

Type: Peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfer and synchronization service

Delivery: SaaS. Software installation required for both management console and endpoint agents. Browser-based UI.

OSes:

  • Management console -- CentOS, Linux, macOS, Ubuntu, Unix, Windows
  • Agents -- Android, FreeBSD, Linux, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: Proprietary P2P protocol based on BitTorrent

Features: Audit logging; support for transferring or replicating millions of files across multiple locations and diverse networks and systems; automated, intelligent scheduling; central management console; integrations with other enterprise IT tools; file sharing, synchronization and versioning; job prioritization; cloud storage support; remote endpoint agent upgrades; effective for large, multilocation enterprises; can scale to support thousands of endpoints and millions of files.

Max file size: No limit

7. SpiderOak CrossClave

SpiderOak product page

Type: File hosting service

Delivery: Hosted and on-premises options. Local application installation required. Browser-based access available but discouraged by the vendor for security reasons.

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OSes: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: Private blockchain platform running on proprietary distributed ledger technology; Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite

Features (Pro tier): Zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in desktop and mobile apps but not browser-based web access; HIPAA-compliant; cost-effective; cloud storage; file sharing and versioning; data backups; point-in-time recovery; support for enterprise applications.

Max file size: No hard limit on file size when sharing, backing up or syncing. The vendor recommends limiting individual files to 10 GB or less for backup and 3 GB or less when synchronizing, however.

8. Tresorit

Tresorit product page

Type*: Cloud storage and file hosting service

Delivery: SaaS. Accessible via desktop application, mobile application and a browser-based UI.

OSes: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows

Protocols and standards supported: TLS; proprietary cryptography protocols; AES-256

Features: Zero-knowledge E2EE, including browser-based access; Gmail and Outlook integrations; enterprise application support; file synchronizing and versioning; encrypted cloud storage; compliant with HIPAA and GDPR (Business Plus and Enterprise tiers).

Max file size: 20 GB (Enterprise tier)

*Tresorit has a free, standalone file transfer app called Tresorit Send, which includes E2EE. Users can upload up to 100 files at a time, as long as they don't exceed 5 GB. Recipients can download a shared file only 10 times, in total.

Each of the above secure file transfer services provides a wide range of features. Pricing varies, with tiered options ranging from single user to multilocation enterprise.

How to choose a secure file transfer service

The following list offers guidance on selecting the appropriate system for file transfer requirements:

  1. Review business requirements. Data management teams should periodically discuss technology requirements with business unit leaders and senior management. This helps identify possible trends and prepare IT for any special events, such as mergers.
  2. Review historical performance data. Analyze data from existing file transfer systems to flag metrics and identify trends that might inform the selection process.
  3. Prepare forecasts of file transfer and other IT trends. Use historical performance data to generate forecasts, which can be invaluable when preparing for a change in a major IT system. Compelling forecast data can help justify costly future investments.
  4. Discuss secure file transfer services with other IT leaders. It is useful to speak with IT leaders in other organizations to see what they use for file transfers and how their experiences have been.
  5. Research and examine available systems. Vet suitable file transfer system candidates, including current vendors.
  6. Prepare a request for proposal (RFP). If a competitive bid is advisable, prepare a formal RFP that specifies the organization's current file transfer activities, plus short-, medium- and long-term needs. The RFP should include the requirements for a service-level agreement.
  7. Send out the RFP, and consider having a bidders' conference. It is sometimes useful to gather bidders in person or by video conference to discuss the RFP and to get a feel for each vendor and its commitment to service and support.
  8. Select the best product, and initiate a project plan. Once the new or updated system has been selected, complete the necessary paperwork, and prepare a project plan to facilitate the installation, testing, acceptance and rollout of the new system.
  9. Organize and conduct user training. Working with the vendor, prepare and deliver training to all employees on the new system.
  10. Complete acceptance testing prior to official rollout. This ensures that the new system performs as stated and that users are comfortable with it.

Use the software development lifecycle as a framework for selecting and implementing a new file transfer system. Once the system is in production, set regular times to review and audit the system's performance, and brief management on the findings.

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FAQs

What is a secure file transfer service? ›

Secure file transfer is a data sharing method that uses secure protocols and encryption to safeguard data in transit. Most secure file sharing solutions use industry-standard protocols that provide encrypted file transfer, such as SFTP, FTPS, HTTPS, and AS2, among others.

What are file transfer services? ›

An organization that sends large files from the subscriber to designated parties. Offering free and paid plans based on the number and size of files transferred per month, file transfer services such as SendBigFiles and TransferNow provide a way to send large files that exceed the file size of email attachments.

What are the three types of file transfer? ›

5 Types of File Transfer Software
  • Cloud Network Disk. This includes Dropbox/GoogleDrive/Microsoft OneDrive/WeTransfer. ...
  • Microsoft OneDrive. ...
  • WeTransfer. ...
  • Network disk system. ...
  • Raysync.
9 Jun 2022

What is the most secure way to transfer files? ›

The most advanced type of file transfer platform today is managed file transfer (MFT). Secure file transfers typically work directly between a sender and a recipient. In contrast, MFT provides an intermediary system, which may be a dedicated server within the organization's facilities or a cloud-provided service.

Why is secure file transfer important? ›

File sharing platforms also include security features to protect files from being stolen or corrupted. By encrypting data, companies can transfer important documents (e.g., contracts, legal agreements) without worrying about the document being intercepted or corrupted along the way.

What are enterprise file services? ›

Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) is a service that allows users to save files in cloud or on-premises storage and then access them on desktop and mobile devices.

What is an example of file transfer? ›

A file transfer is moving data from one location to another. For example, this term could describe moving files from your hard drive to a floppy drive or from one computer to another over the network.

What are 4 types of files and their uses? ›

Low and behold, here are the different types of files you should know and how to use them:
  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) ...
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics) ...
  • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) ...
  • PDF (Portable Document Format) ...
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) ...
  • MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)
26 Jul 2018

What are the 4 different file types? ›

5 types of document files
  • Portable document format (PDF) A PDF file is a common file type in many work environments. ...
  • Word document (DOC and DOCX) ...
  • Hypertext markup language (HTML and HTM) ...
  • Microsoft excel spreadsheet file (XLS and XLSX) ...
  • Text file (TXT)

What are the four types of file processing? ›

The methods of disk file processing include:
  • Relative-record-number processing.
  • Consecutive processing.
  • Sequential-by-key processing.
  • Random-by-key processing.
  • Sequential-within-limits processing.

What are 3 secure ways data can be transferred externally? ›

Understanding methods of secure data transfer
  • Using File Transfer Protocol. Also known as FTP, File Transfer Protocol was among the first ways created to send information across networks. ...
  • Cloud file sharing services. ...
  • Employing Peer to Peer. ...
  • File sharing via email. ...
  • Using a secure file sharing platform.
6 Jul 2020

Which file system is secure? ›

Systems that use encryption on the wire include NASD (Networked Attached Storage) [20], NFS over IPSec [24], SFS (Self-Certifying File System) [30], iSCSI [42], and OpenAFS with secure RPC. In these systems the server is trusted with the data and meta-data. Even if users encrypt files, the server knows the filenames.

What are the different methods of transferring files? ›

Here are the five most common methods you can try for yourself.
  • Cloud storage or web data transfers. ...
  • SSD and HDD drives via SATA cables. ...
  • Basic cable transfer. ...
  • Use software to speed up your data transfer. ...
  • Transfer your data over WiFi or LAN. ...
  • Using an external storage device or flash drives.
21 Feb 2019

What are the methods of securing files? ›

10 tips to protect your files on your PC and in the Cloud
  • Keep your computer and devices updated. ...
  • Create a strong password. ...
  • Use Microsoft Defender. ...
  • Encrypt your hard drive. ...
  • Encrypt your mobile device. ...
  • Add security information to your cloud storage account. ...
  • Choose a cloud service that uses encryption. ...
  • Ransomware protection.
8 Sept 2020

What are 3 benefits of file management? ›

The benefits of file management include: it helps keep everything organized, it makes sharing easier, it reduces the risk of losing important files, and it can provide a backup in case something goes wrong.

What happens in a secure file transfer protocol? ›

SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is a secure file transfer protocol that uses secure shell encryption to provide a high level of security for sending and receiving file transfers. SFTP is similar to FTPS in that it uses AES and other algorithms to secure data as it travels between different systems.

What are the 3 types of file organization? ›

Records are stored and accessed in a particular order sorted using a key field. Retrieval requires searching sequentially through the entire file record by record to the end.
...
File organization methods
  • sequential,
  • random,
  • serial and.
  • indexed-sequential.

What are file services used for? ›

Role description. File and Storage Services includes technologies that help you set up and manage one or more file servers, which are servers that provide central locations on your network where you can store files and share them with users.

What are the 2 types of file sharing? ›

Types of file sharing
  • File transfer protocol programs. One of the most common ways to share a file is through a file transfer protocol program (FTP). ...
  • Peer-to-peer networks. ...
  • Removable storage media. ...
  • Online file sharing services.
17 Jun 2020

What are the four ways to transfer files and data? ›

4 ways to transfer files from PC to PC
  1. Direct file transfer. Direct file transfer is probably the easiest route you can take to send files from one place to the next. ...
  2. Cloud storage and transfer. ...
  3. SFTP/MFT tools. ...
  4. File migration.
26 Jun 2020

What are the 2 types of files? ›

There are two types of files. There are Program files and Data Files. Program files, at heart, can be described as files containing software instructions. Program files are then made up by two files called, source program files and executable files.

What are 5 file formats? ›

The 5 Types of Digital Image Files: TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and Raw Image Files, and When to Use Each One. There are 5 main formats in which to store images.

What are the basic services of a file system? ›

Space management, metadata, data encryption, file access control, and data integrity are the responsibilities of the file system too.

What are commonly used file systems? ›

10 common file systems
  • Disk file systems. A disk file system is a type of file system that manages and stores data permanently on a disk. ...
  • Flash file systems. ...
  • Database file systems. ...
  • Tape file systems. ...
  • Network file systems. ...
  • Encrypted file systems. ...
  • Flat file systems. ...
  • Shared disk file systems.
3 Mar 2022

What are the 3 most common file types of images? ›

Common Image File Formats
  • TIFF (. tif, . tiff) ...
  • GIF (. gif) GIF or Graphics Interchange Format files are widely used for web graphics, because they are limited to only 256 colors, can allow for transparency, and can be animated. ...
  • PNG (. png) ...
  • EPS (. eps) ...
  • RAW Image Files (. raw, .
7 Jul 2022

What are all the file system? ›

A file system stores and organizes data and can be thought of as a type of index for all the data contained in a storage device. These devices can include hard drives, optical drives and flash drives.

What are the four most common files? ›

Read on to find out about the most common types of files and how to use them.
  • DOC. One of the most common document types used today is the Microsoft Word Document, which ends with . ...
  • PDF. PDFs are another common document file type, so it's helpful to compare the two when you're choosing a file type. ...
  • JPEG. ...
  • PNG.
7 Aug 2020

What are the 5 parts of data processing? ›

All About the Data Processing Cycle
  • Step 1: Collection. The collection of raw data is the first step of the data processing cycle. ...
  • Step 2: Preparation. ...
  • Step 3: Input. ...
  • Step 4: Data Processing. ...
  • Step 5: Output. ...
  • Step 6: Storage.

What are the five methods of processing? ›

5 traditional food processing techniques explained
  • 1 Homogenisation. ...
  • 2 Pasteurisation. ...
  • 3 Canning. ...
  • 4 Drying.

Is OneDrive a secure file transfer? ›

OneDrive is an application made for file sharing between users, and synchronizes between your device and the cloud. Its file sharing functionality enables collaboration on shared files, and its synchronized cloud storage both securely backs up your files and enables you to free up disk space on your machine.

Is Google Drive file transfer secure? ›

When you upload a file of any type to Google Drive, it is stored securely in our world-class data centers. Data is encrypted in-transit and at-rest. If you choose to access these files offline, we store this info on your device.

Is Dropbox a secure way to send files? ›

Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data in transit between Dropbox apps and our servers. SSL/TSL creates a secure tunnel protected by 128-bit or higher Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.

Is Dropbox or OneDrive more secure? ›

Security. Both OneDrive and Dropbox use the same security protocols: 265-bit AES for files at rest and SSL/TLS when they're in transit. You can set up two-factor authentication on all plans; different business plans also allow multi-factor authentications and single sign-on (SSO).

Is Google Drive or OneDrive more secure? ›

Google Drive offers the largest free plan and the cheapest paid cloud file storage of the three. None of the services are particularly secure, but OneDrive offers a secure folder locked by an extra level of two-factor authentication.

What is the most secure cloud? ›

The following are the list of most secure cloud storage of 2021:
  • IDrive.
  • pCloud.
  • Sync.com.
  • Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Google Drive.
  • Egnyte Connect.
  • MEGA.
  • Tresorit.
3 Mar 2021

What are the different types of file transfer protocol? ›

What Are the Top File Transfer Protocols?
  • FTP. The original file transfer protocol, FTP, is a popular file transfer method that has been around for decades. ...
  • FTPS. ...
  • SFTP. ...
  • SCP. ...
  • HTTP & HTTPS. ...
  • AS2, AS3, & AS4. ...
  • PeSIT.
25 May 2020

What is an example of file transfer protocol? ›

What Is an Example of FTP? Examples of FTP clients include CoffeeCup Free FTP, Core FTP, FileZilla Client, FTP Voyager, and WinSCP.

How many types of file transfer protocols are there? ›

One solution that supports all 12 file transfer protocols is JSCAPE MFT Server - a managed file transfer server that already comes with security and automation capabilities right out of the box.

How do I send documents securely? ›

The easiest way to send a secure document is to use electronic signature software such as Signaturely. These applications make signing and sending contracts and agreements easy and ensure they're secure. Password protection is also another great option.

Which is better Google Drive or we transfer? ›

Google Drive has 26133 reviews and a rating of 4.77 / 5 stars vs WeTransfer which has 2561 reviews and a rating of 4.79 / 5 stars.

Which one is better Dropbox or Google Drive? ›

Google Drive has better options for plans than Dropbox, and many features you have to pay for with Dropbox are either free or available at a much lower price with Google Drive. Overall, when it comes down to price, usability, and features, Google Drive puts itself ahead of Dropbox for most users.

Which is more secure Google or Dropbox? ›

Google is a bit better at securing your data while it's on their servers, though. Both Google and Dropbox encrypt your data while it's traveling from your computer to their servers. Once it's in the cloud, both generate a key that's used to decrypt it when you need to access it.

Is OneDrive secure for business? ›

OneDrive for Business fully encrypts data in transit and at rest. When data is in transit, OneDrive for Business uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. This prevents hackers from intercepting and reading data being transmitted between your systems and Microsoft data centers.

How secure is Dropbox for business? ›

Dropbox offers a secure and safe platform for your business with modern encryption standards and a unique storage architecture that protects your sensitive data against brute force attacks, ransomware, malware, and data breaches—at all levels.

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