5 Key Differences Between SFTP and API: Which One Should You Use?


Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a popular method for transferring data files. It’s secure and straightforward to implement.

However, SFTP has some drawbacks. Manually downloading, uploading, and re-uploading data files takes up valuable time and resources. And errors can introduce critical issues into the system.

APIs, on the other hand, provide a more seamless way to transfer data. But which one should you use?

SFTP is a one-way transfer method

SFTP allows for transferring files and folders between a local system and a server. It is a secure file transfer method, providing security through SSH encryption. It also protects data from attacks while in transit, preventing hackers from intercepting usernames and passwords or interfering with file transmission.

SFTP requires the use of SSH keys to establish a connection. These verify the user’s identity to prevent imposters from connecting to the SFTP server. It is possible to enable users without password access to connect to the SFTP server by generating SSH key pairs. Flat file integrations via SFTP vs. API are much slower.

SFTP clients provide various features that can handle most of your file transfer needs. These clients can efficiently perform tasks such as removing files, moving files to and from other servers, and resuming paused transfers. They also can transfer file metadata, which can be useful for business purposes. This includes file size, date and time, and permissions.

SFTP is a batch transfer method

SFTP is the most secure file transfer protocol on the market. Unlike FTP, which operates over TCP/IP connections and allows hackers to impersonate users or steal usernames and passwords, SFTP uses an encrypted channel and offers a single connection to transfer authentication information and data files. This makes integrating SFTP into a firewall setup easier and prevents man-in-the-middle attacks.

Moreover, SFTP allows various methods to meet the authentication requirements of the connection, including user ID and password combinations and public key authentication. This helps businesses comply with regulatory standards.

SFTP is also scalable, which means it can handle larger volumes of data than other file transfer protocols. For example, our customers in the healthcare industry use SFTP to transfer data to their partners. This data includes patient records, financial information, and other sensitive files. Using a cloud SFTP solution, these companies can securely transfer large data sets without compromising security. This ensures compliance with regulatory standards and mitigates the risk of breaches and malware attacks.

SFTP is a non-real-time transfer method

SFTP is a non-real-time transfer method that does not send data in real time. Instead, it uses a polling method to fetch an updated list of files from the server periodically and compares that to a previous list. This can be inefficient and expensive, especially for large file systems.

Moreover, SFTP is not ideal for sensitive data exchange because it does not use encryption by default. This can introduce critical issues that require significant IT resources and delays in resolution. It also allows employees to manage data manually, which increases the risk of human error.

However, SFTP can be used to securely transfer data, as it offers the same level of security as SSH and includes a message authentication code (MAC) that protects the integrity of transferred data. Additionally, SFTP supports a variety of authentication methods, including user ID and password, public key authentication, and automated logins. In addition, SFTP’s encryption feature makes it easy to comply with regulatory standards. 

SFTP is a secure transfer method

As the name implies, SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol. It uses SSH to encrypt data and ensures that the information isn’t visible to unauthorized parties during the transfer process. SFTP can also provide authentication and data integrity checks, making it a great choice for file transfers requiring regulatory compliance.

SFTP can be set up to work in both client-server and server-server configurations, and it can be run either as a command line or through a GUI. It’s also compatible with both FTP and SSL/TLS connections. In addition, SFTP is a packet-based protocol rather than a text-based one, so it’s easier to integrate with firewalls and other security devices.

SFTP is also a very secure transfer method because it doesn’t leave any open ports or unsecured channels open during a transfer. 

SFTP is a cost-effective transfer method

The SFTP protocol uses encryption to secure data in transit, making it more difficult for hackers to access information. SFTP also allows for public key authentication, which provides further security measures. These features make SFTP a cost-effective option for businesses looking to protect sensitive information.

SFTP can be used to transfer files within and between businesses. For example, an accounting department might use SFTP to send invoices to customers and purchase orders to suppliers. This method allows for faster delivery of files and increases productivity. It can also help businesses comply with industry regulations like HIPAA by protecting personal health information.

SFTP is a cost-effective transfer method because it doesn’t require a dedicated server or shell access privileges. Moreover, it works well with network load balancers. However, SFTP doesn’t have an inherent way to notify clients about real-time file system changes. As such, it requires users to poll the server periodically and compare the resulting list of files with a previous one to identify changes. This can be cumbersome and expensive if you have many files on the server.