While FTP is generally an outdated concept, many companies are still using it rather than migrating to cloud technologies.

In this article, we compare the two and determine the clear edge that cloud computing has to local servers.


What is a Cloud?

Cloud or cloud computing is a general term for a variety of services like cloud storage (like pCloud), software applications and networking. These services are hosted on the Internet and are accessed through a web browser or a desktop client allowing users the ability to access everything on the cloud, from software to their stored data, without having to save anything on their actual computers.


Cloud-vs.FTP illustration

What is an FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol – a pretty standard protocol used for transferring files online, dating from the time the internet was born. It is used for uploading and downloading files to/from a locally hosted server. The access to the local server is restricted and only people with the appropriate permissions to the server can download the files to their local computers or upload files with a designated FTP client.

What is important to mention here is the fact that FTP was developed way before standard encryption mechanisms. Any transfer through FTP is “out in the wild” – meaning that anyone who is on the look for passwords, usernames and server locations can get them fairly easily.



What are FTPS and SFTP?

As the internet took off in the early 90s, so did the question of online security. FTP was extended to work with encrypted connections allowing the traditional FTP to communicate via SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

SFTP in another alternative to the FTPS based on SSH (Secure Shell) protocol communication. It provides similar security benefits. This solves the matter of cybersecurity to a certain extent but it still compromises speed and collaboration efficiency.



Setting up FTP vs. setting up cloud services

Setting up an FTP server can be a complicated process. Setting the access for all team members can be a struggle too and requires a specialist who knows what “types of shell accesses” actually mean. Even after all the technicalities are handled, you still need to train your team on using the FTP software and desktop client you have selected and to onboard them.

Setting up - FTP vs. CloudGetting started with cloud storage for your business, on the other hand, the registration of your business. That’s it – you don’t need to deal with servers or carry out complicated training sessions. The servers are still there, but you have no physical access to them and we handle all the technical work “behind the curtains”. That’s the beauty of cloud storage: we keep it simple for you so you have time for your actual business operations




Let’s talk about sharing

Because of the way FTP works, every change made to a file means that the same file needs to be replaced on the server and shared again. If you edited a text file, for example, you have to upload the new version of the file trough the FTP client again, make sure you have named it properly so it is recognizable as the latest file version (or overwrite the previous version, which may cause confusion), then notify your colleagues by messenger, email or carrier pigeon. Imagine a situation where even a small team is trying to collaborate on and exchange the same files through FTP – that’s likely to result in havoc.

Sharing FTP vs. Cloud

Now let’s share a file on the cloud. Just right click to invite, generate download or upload link. The new folder will appear on every device of your colleagues and will be accessible through every OS they choose. Every change will be automatically synced between all users.



What about sharing with clients or subcontractors?

Of course, you can share files with people outside of your company or organization through an FTP server, however you need surgical precision when setting up the permissions for the files you need to exchange, otherwise you open your server to unnecessary risk. You will probably need to get a “surgeon” in the face of an IT specialist. On top of this, you still need to explain to the people you share with how to use the FTP server. Quite complicated, indeed.

Working-with-clients-FTP vs. Cloud

Now share a file with pCloud: create the folder that you want to share with your client/subcontractor. Share it and give “Can view only” permission if you wish. Voila, you’re ready and the work continues flawlessly.



Is file versioning a thing with FTP?

An FTP Server keeps a single copy of each file unless you manually upload new, renamed versions of the file and keep the old ones there. No history of the revisions made will be recorded, and that increases the risk of losing valuable data.

File Versioning FTP vs. Cloud

Back to pCloud: every change is saved, synced and recorded – automatically. If you realize that a file is missing, you can restore it, or get back a previous version of a file up to 6 months back.



What if I want to work on my mobile device?

There are FTP clients for phones, but the process of connecting to the server remains difficult. With pCloud’s full-featured mobile apps, you can preview documents, edit them third-party apps on your phone, share them with the download link or just leave them where they were to sync the changes with all your colleagues.


Using Cloud on multiple devices


Security Issues

As we already mentioned, FTP does not exactly get a gold star when it comes to protecting your data, here’s why:

  • As FTP needs to open additional ports to be accessed, this creates holes in your firewall.
  • To share files with others, you give them access to your infrastructure and you need to take additional security measures like installing software patches for controlling access to the physical server.
  • You will need an IT specialist to make periodic copies and backup your server information to another place.


Security FTP vs. Cloud


Further to that, FTP provides no traceability. There is no way to see what is requested, or what gets changed and by whom. In other words, anyone with credentials to your FTP server can download data without you even knowing.

This is why many businesses today choose to outsource all the technical worries to a service like ours. The way the cloud storage technology works enables teams to backup and store their data securely with no limitations on usability, sharing and access.

If you are now convinced about the benefits the cloud has to FTP, and would like to learn more about our cloud service, click here: