How an FTP Server Makes Disaster Recovery Reliable and Safe

By: SolarWinds


Organizations implement disaster recovery (DR) for a number of reasons, some of which include business continuity, data preservation, and regulatory compliance. DR is the process for restoring your systems to a previous fully functional state. However, many people don’t realize that a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server can help with your organization’s DR efforts.

A brush-up on an FTP server

An FTP server is an HTML application that runs the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which is an application for exchanging files. An FTP server helps you access files within your internet or intranet, between computers that support the TCP/IP protocol. Two computers are involved in an FTP transfer.

  1. The FTP server, the server that has the FTP software installed.
  2. A client, the machine that runs the FTP client software. The client initiates the connection to the FTP server. Once the connection is complete, the file download or upload starts. Click here to learn how to set up an FTP server.

How does an FTP server help with DR in your network?

Unless you have an efficient DR process, catastrophic hardware failures and natural or man-made disasters can cause problems to a well-functioning organization. Some of the common strategies for DR include:

  • Backups on tape
  • Backups on disk
  • Replicated data at an off-site location

Backups on tape are seldom used anymore. Backups on disks and data replication are still widely used. FTP plays an important role in making backups and replicating the data to an off-site server.

Back up data at regular intervals: you can back up your data from the server at regular intervals (every day, a particular day each week, etc.). The backup interval you use depends on how critical your data is. To back up data, you can use an FTP server software, which will transfer the data from one server to another.

Replicating data: another way to preserve your data is to replicate it to another server. This is a common practice among organizations that cannot afford to lose any data. An FTP server software is useful for this kind of backup. The FTP software copies the data instantly from the server to the remote server/machine.

Your data is more vulnerable when it is transferred over the internet using standard FTP. It’s best to use an FTP server software that supports FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), or other encryption protocols to safeguard your data during transfer.

In some organizations, the backup or the DR server is in a demilitarized zone (DMZ). Even in this situation, an FTP server can help. The DMZ allows only a limited number of connections into its environment. With the DMZ, you need a gateway to bypass the firewall. Through the FTP server’s gateway, you’ll be able to send data to and from the DR server.

Using FTP to transfer data from one computer to another can be risky. Without the security protocols, your network is vulnerable to data breaches. Consider an organization that allows FTP connections for business purposes. If an employee installs an FTP server software on a server, once the employee brings up this FTP server, the data in the server becomes vulnerable. The worst part is that most of these kinds of scenarios go undetected unless an intrusion occurs. A good security best practice is to disallow anonymous logins to the FTP server or any business-critical server.

The bottom line is that FTP servers are necessary for organizations to achieve reliable and easily accessible backups for Disaster Recovery. But you need to be careful that the FTP server doesn’t back trigger in the event of a security breach.

Serv-U Managed File Transfer

Serv-U MFT Server helps you back up data for Disaster Recovery efforts, and because it uses SFTP, FTPS and HTTPS over both IPv4 and IPv6 networks, it keeps your data safe during the transfer. Download a FREE trial and try a fully functional version of the tool for 14 days!

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