Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

Last Updated: April 24, 2013

Definition - What does Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) mean?

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a secure version of File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which facilitates data access and data transfer over a Secure Shell (SSH) data stream. It is part of the SSH Protocol. This term is also known as SSH File Transfer Protocol

Techopedia explains Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

SFTP was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as an extended version of SSH 2.0, allowing file transfer over SSH and use with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and VPN applications. Both the commands and data are encrypted in order to prevent passwords and other sensitive information from being transferred over the network. The functionality of SFTP is similar to that of FTP. However, SFTP uses SSH to transfer files. SFTP requires that the client user must be authenticated by the server and the data transfer must take place over a secure channel (SSH). It allows a wide range of operations to be performed on remote files, acting somewhat like a remote file system protocol. SFTP allows operations such as resuming from halted transfers, directory listings and remote file removal. There are some additional capabilities that SFTP offers when compared to the earlier Secure Copy Protocol (SCP). SFTP is designed to be more platform-independent and is available on most platforms. Although both SCP and SFTP use the same SSH encryption during file transfer, the file transfer speed of SFTP is slower than SCP due to the back and forth nature of the SFTP protocol. All data is encrypted before being sent across the network. File transfer can be cancelled without terminating the session.
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