At a time when so much of business is digitized, it’s becoming critically important for organizations to have a way to transfer large files over the internet without compromising security. While it may seem like the importance of these transfers would lead to an abundance of great large file transfer options, finding a quality large file transfer tool can be tricky. From varied file transfer protocols, to differing reliance on the cloud, and mixed use of encryption, there’s much to consider when picking the best tool to transfer files over the internet.
This guide aims to make that process easier not only by listing the best – in my opinion – large file transfer options on the market, but also by explaining how to transfer big files over the internet safely and which type of large file transfer tool is best. If you already know how to transfer files over the internet (and you know that managed file transfer is the best way to do it), then you can skip ahead to our list here:
How to Transfer Big Files Over the Internet
There are a few different ways to transfer large files over the internet. The two large file transfer options are using a cloud share service, like Google Drive or Dropbox, or using file transfer protocol (FTP).
Cloud share services have the advantage of being easy and accessible to any user. They let you upload large files to the cloud before sharing access with the desired recipient. With a service like Dropbox, users can collaborate on documents and can even restrict folders to certain users. Depending on the service, files may be encrypted at rest and the browser may be protected with an HTTPS connection.
Unfortunately, these services can have a major disadvantage: they may offer limited data security. They can lack good audit trails and security controls. Something as simple as sending a URL to the wrong user can lead to a compromise of sensitive information. Plus, files can typically be downloaded and shared “offline,” meaning you have no control over where they go.
These security risks are the reason many people choose tools designed to leverage file transfer protocol (FTP) to transfer large files over the internet. Even though FTP is a little old school nowadays, it remains one of the most reliable way to transfer large files. You need to have a remote FTP server to use the protocol, which is why some businesses find it easier to rely on the cloud share services outlined above. However, the minor inconvenience of the server is far outweighed by the benefits of using FTP. Not only does FTP also offer easy file sharing, it’s also built to make the process more secure than with a cloud sharing service.
So, here’s how to transfer big files over the internet using FTP:
- Open your tool’s web portal
- Choose if you want to Request Files or Send Files
- Create a name for the project, then add your contact info and an expiration date and password for the shared files if you want them (for added security)
- If you’re sending files, you’ll be taken to a page to upload files following the same procedure you would use to add a file to an email
- Automatically get a link you can use to send or request files from users
The process is easy, pain free, and more secure than a cloud share service. However, there’s an even better option when it comes to the security of your large file transfers: managed file transfer (MFT).
The Security of Different Large File Transfer Options: FTP vs. MFT
FTP and MFT are two of the most popular large file transfer options. FTP is the original file transfer protocol that has been around for decades. It lets you transfer sensitive files between a server and a client on a computer network. Unfortunately, it leaves a fair bit to be desired when it comes to modern security needs.
With FTP, user credentials are sent as unencrypted plain text and while files are encrypted at rest, they aren’t encrypted in transit. That leaves your data open to interception, and makes FTP a less-than-optimal large file transfer tool.
That’s where MFT comes in. MFT is an all-in-one secure protocol file transfer solution that uses industry-standard encryption methods and network protocols to safeguard sensitive data both at rest and in transit. It is designed to keep files secure whether they’re inside or outside your business and leverages a wide range of file transfer security protocols including FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, and more. The additional authentication and security involved in these protocols helps keep files even more secure. Plus, MFT makes it easy to create strong passwords to further protect your files.
The significant difference in the security of these two options means organizations serious about protecting their large files during a transfer should stick to MFT solutions, like SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer or GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer, wherever possible.
Best Large File Transfer Tools
If you’re looking for a tool specifically designed to make large file transfers simpler, look no further than SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer (Serv-U MFT). The tool gives you control over your file transfers—even the large ones over 3GB in size. Whether your employees need to send videos, graphics, applications, presentations, or other large files, Serv-U MFT has you covered.
With Serv-U, you can use any of the five most common file sharing protocols (FTP, SFTP, FTPS, HTTP, and HTTPS). This means you can keep using your existing shared software without interruption. In addition to its features (including encryption of files both in transit and at rest, the option to set expiration dates on file access, the option to add powerful passwords, and much more), Serv-U MFT is a user-friendly solution allowing anyone within your organization to easily share and request files without having any experience or needing to undergo intensive training. The clear dashboards and straightforward sharing processes in addition to the compliance-ready security features make Serv-U MFT, in my opinion, the best large file transfer tool on the market today.
Try a free 14-day fully functional trial of Serv-U MFT today.
Another great large file transfer tool is GoAnywhere MFT, a secure managed file transfer protocol option that makes sharing files across individuals and organizations easier. The tool offers centralized control of file sharing along with wide-ranging security settings and audit trails designed to eliminate some of the security risks often associated with basic FTP sharing. The tool encrypts files both at rest and in motion.
GoAnywhere MFT offers a variety of deployment options, including both on-premises and in the cloud, making it easier to use. Its easy integration with the external web and cloud apps organizations use daily make it a good choice for businesses looking for a tool to fit within their existing infrastructure.
Try GoAnywhere free for 30 days.
FileZilla is a freemium file transfer solution. The free version of the platform is an effective large file transfer tool that supports FTP, FTPs, and SFTP. You can use this version to transfer files larger than 4GB. While an effective open source option, the free version of FileZilla offers less security and fewer integrations than a paid tool.
The paid version of FileZilla, FileZilla Pro, addresses some of those issues. It can transfer files using the same protocols as the free version in addition to transferring via Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Cloud, Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft SharePoint, and more. The platform is optimized for speed, and it lets you adjust transfer speeds with ease.
While there’s no trial of FileZilla Pro, you can download the free version of FileZilla here.
While Citrix is most often associated with its cloud and networking services, its Citrix ShareFile software is a business-grade file sharing and storage service. Citrix ShareFile is designed to allow users to send files as large as 100GB securely. With over 25 customizable security settings, you can be confident any sensitive information you share through Citrix ShareFile will be safe. Plus, the service can also scan for dangerous content in received files to avoid security breaches.
Citrix ShareFile has three different plans: Standard, Advanced, and Premium. You can try each of these free for 30 days.
The last large file transfer tool on this list is Files.com, a cloud service frequently used by media companies because it can transfer files as large as 5TB. Files.com encrypts files both in transit and at rest using FTP, SFTP, and FTPS encryption with key authentication to help ensure your file transfers are safe.
Like some other options on this list, Files.com lets you add additional security features to your files if you want them, including features like click tracking or expiration dates. It can also be integrated with other cloud storage options like Google Drive, Dropbox, and more. An additional bonus is the platform’s basic functions are easy to use, but it’s worth noting some of the service’s more advanced features can prove challenging to use.
Try Files.com free for 7 days.
Choosing the Best Large File Transfer Tool
When you choose a large file transfer tool for your business, you want to be sure of two things: that it can transfer large files over the internet and that it can do so safely. Luckily, there are a number of tools on the market meeting that criteria. There are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing which one is right for you.
We believe, for the vast majority of organizations, the best way to transfer files over the internet is by using SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer. Serv-U is a powerful, large file transfer tool designed to leverage managed file transfer (MFT) to get your files to their destination. The tool’s simple interface makes it easy for anyone in your organization to share and request files no matter their level of expertise, all while maintaining data integrity. Try Serv-U MFT today to see its benefits for yourself.
[As of January 2022]