A Complete Guide to Secure File Transfer Protocol

Discover the secure world of SFTP for encrypted file transfer. Uncover its key features, protocol comparisons, and top tools, including the versatile AnyViewer. Elevate your file sharing with SFTP's security and the user-friendly capabilities of AnyViewer.


By Ellie / Updated on January 17, 2024

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What is Secure File Transfer Protocol?

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a secure and encrypted protocol used for transferring files between computers over a network. It provides a secure alternative to traditional File Transfer Protocol (FTP), ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of data during transmission. SFTP uses a combination of Secure Shell (SSH) protocol and FTP to provide a secure channel for file transfer.

What Is SFTP

Key security features of SFTP

As previously stated, SFTP establishes a secure channel for file transfer. To guarantee the security of data in transit, it becomes imperative to incorporate robust features:

  • Encryption: SFTP encrypts both the data and commands exchanged between the client and server, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Authentication: SFTP uses SSH for user authentication, ensuring that only authorized users can access and transfer files.
  • Integrity: The protocol ensures the integrity of transferred files by using cryptographic hash functions to verify that the data has not been tampered with during transit.
  • Portability: SFTP is platform-independent and can be used on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • Firewall-friendly: The single Secure File Transfer Protocolport number is 22 by default, making it firewall-friendly and easier to manage network security.


Comparisons SFTP with other file transfer protocols

When comparing SFTP to its counterparts—FTP, FTPS, and HTTP/S—a comprehensive analysis unveils distinct features and differences.


Let’s compare SFTP with FTP. Here are some key considerations:

  • Security: SFTP is the clear winner in terms of security, providing end-to-end encryption and strong authentication. FTP, on the other hand, poses security concerns due to the lack of encryption.
  • Data transfer: SFTP's use of a single secure connection simplifies the communication process, while FTP's separate connections may complicate firewall configurations.
  • Authentication: SFTP's reliance on SSH key pairs offers a more robust authentication method compared to FTP's basic username and password approach.
  • Portability: Both SFTP and FTP are widely supported across different platforms, providing flexibility in usage.


Let’s compare SFTP with FTPS. Here are some key considerations:

  • Security: Both SFTP and FTPS offer enhanced security compared to traditional FTP. SFTP achieves this through SSH, while FTPS uses SSL/TLS encryption.
  • Data Transfer: SFTP's use of a single connection simplifies the communication process, while FTPS may involve managing separate connections for control and data.
  • Authentication: SFTP typically relies on SSH key pairs, providing robust authentication. FTPS supports various authentication methods, allowing flexibility in user verification.
  • Portability: Both SFTP and FTPS are supported on various platforms, offering flexibility in usage.


Let’s compare SFTP with HTTP/S. Here are some key considerations:

  • Security: Both SFTP and HTTPS provide secure data transfer, but SFTP offers end-to-end encryption and may be preferred for dedicated file transfer scenarios.
  • Data transfer: SFTP's use of a single connection simplifies the communication process, while HTTPS operates in a request-response model, creating connections as needed.
  • Authentication: SFTP typically relies on SSH key pairs, offering strong authentication. HTTPS primarily uses username and password authentication but can integrate additional methods.
  • Use case: SFTP is specialized for secure file transfer, while HTTPS is a standard for secure web communication. The choice depends on the specific use case and requirements.

Top 5 SFTP tools in the market

Selecting the appropriate tools for smooth transfers involves a review of popular SFTP Client and Server software. This comprehensive guide explores top-notch SFTP tools to aid in your decision-making process.


  • Platform: Windows
  • Features: Supports SFTP, SCP, and FTP. Provides a user-friendly interface, drag-and-drop functionality, and an integrated text editor.


  • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Features: Supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP. Offers a simple and intuitive user interface, drag-and-drop support, and a site manager for saving connection details.


  • Platform: macOS, Windows
  • Features: Supports multiple protocols, including SFTP. Offers a sleek and user-friendly interface, integration with external editors, and bookmarking.


  • Platform: Windows
  • Features: Primarily an SSH client, PuTTY includes an SFTP client (PSCP) for secure file transfers. It is lightweight and commonly used for terminal access.


  • Platform: Linux, Unix, macOS
  • Features: OpenSSH provides a suite of secure networking utilities, including an SFTP server and client. It is often included by default in many Unix-like operating systems.

Bonus tip: Free & easy GUI file transfer tool

If you want to find a free and easy GUI file transfer tool, it is recommended to use AnyViewer. AnyViewer is renowned for providing secure remote access and file transfer capabilities.

  • Robust encryption protocols: AnyViewer employs strong encryption, guaranteeing the security of data during transfers and remote sessions, and addressing critical confidentiality concerns.
  • User-friendly interface: With an intuitive design, AnyViewer simplifies both remote access and secure file transfers, catering to users with varying technical backgrounds.
  • Multi-user collaboration: Features for collaborative work enhance team productivity, allowing multiple users to engage in remote sessions simultaneously.
  • Customizable access controls: AnyViewer offers customizable access controls, allowing users to define permissions and restrict access based on security preferences.
  • Versatility beyond file transfer: AnyViewer extends its functionality beyond file transfers, encompassing unattended remote access, remote support, presentation delivery, and screen sharing.
  • Transparency & accountability: Session recording and logging features contribute to transparency and accountability during remote interactions.

Step 1. Download and install AnyViewer on both devices.

Download Freeware Win PCs & Servers
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Step 2. Launch AnyViewer on the remote device and efficiently complete the straightforward sign-up process.

Log in AnyViewer.png

Step 3. Log into your local device using the same AnyViewer account.

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Step 4. Navigate to the "Device" section, find your desired remote devices, and initiate file sharing by selecting "File transfer."

File Transfer AnyViewer

Step 5. You are now able to seamlessly transfer files between the two devices.

Choose Files

For file transfer with enhanced features, consider upgrading to a professional or enterprise plan:
Individual files can reach an impressive size of 1TB.
Achieve a maximum file transfer speed of 10 MB/s.
Efficiently transfer files with support for 5 concurrent threads.
There's no restriction on the number of files that can be transferred simultaneously.


The bottom line

In conclusion, Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) stands as the paramount choice for secure and encrypted file transfers. With robust features ensuring data integrity, confidentiality, and platform independence, SFTP provides a superior alternative to traditional protocols. Whether comparing protocols or exploring top tools like AnyViewer, this guide equips users with the knowledge to elevate their file transfer experience securely and efficiently.