Introduction

Data integration is an essential practice for organizations that want to make better use of all the information at their fingertips. But how do you actually send data from one or more sources to a centralized repository, like a data warehouse?

For many businesses, the answer is SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol). But what is SFTP, exactly, and how do you configure SFTP to securely transfer files? Keep reading for all the answers about SFTP configuration

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Table of Contents

What is SFTP?

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a method of data transfer that can send and receive files via the cryptographic SSH protocol. SFTP was created in the late 1990s as a secure alternative to FTP (File Transfer Protocol), a traditional file transfer method that uses TCP/IP.

Unlike FTP, which uses two channels (a command channel and a data channel), SFTP uses only a single channel to send commands and transfer data. SFTP’s capability to encrypt sensitive information, keeping it out of the hands of attackers, has made it the preferred choice over FTP in nearly all situations.

Related Reading:SFTP vs. FTP: Understanding the Difference

How to Configure SFTP

Configuring SFTP is usually more straightforward when using Unix-based operating systems such as Linux and macOS, although it can be done on Windows as well. Since it would take far too long to account for every possible variable in a user’s technical setup, in this section we’ll offer a high-level overview of the SFTP configuration process.

Configuring SFTP on Windows

SFTP depends on the SSH protocol. If you’re using Windows 10 or Windows Server 2019, SSH should already be installed. Otherwise, you’ll first need to install SSH on your machine—we recommend an open-source SSH implementation such as OpenSSH.

Next, you’ll need to open up a port for SFTP to use. Below is how to open an SFTP port on Windows 10:

  • In the Control Panel, navigate to the Windows Defender Firewall. Click on “Advanced settings” in the left panel to open a new pop-up window.
  • Click on “Inbound Rules” in the pop-up window’s left panel. Next, click on “New Rule…” in the right panel.
  • By default, SFTP uses port 22 for communications. In the Windows Firewall, create a new inbound rule for TCP port 22 that applies to private networks.

Finally, select an SFTP client to use. Popular choices for Windows SFTP clients include WinSCPFileZilla, and Cyberduck. You should be able to perform SFTP transfers from within the client’s interface.

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Configuring SFTP on Linux and macOS

As with Windows, SFTP configuration on macOS and Linux first requires SSH. All Mac computers come with SSH installed. Installing SSH on Linux depends on your choice of Linux distribution. For example, here’s how to install SSH on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install ssh

Next, you’ll need to open up an SFTP port. The macOS firewall port settings are accessible via System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Firewall Options. In Linux, allowing access to SFTP port 22 requires the ufw command:

sudo ufw allow ssh

You can transfer files with SFTP using the Unix shell (via the SFTP command), but for ease of use, we’ll assume that you prefer an SFTP client. Cyberduck is available for macOS, and FileZilla is available for both macOS and Linux. Transmit is a good Mac-exclusive SFTP client, while there are a number of good open-source Linux SFTP clients.

Related Reading: How to Use SFTP to Securely Transfer Files

How Xplenty Can Help with SFTP

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SFTP configuration can be challenging to set up, especially for users with less technical expertise. Still, being able to transfer data quickly and securely is crucial—so what can businesses do?

More and more organizations are finding that the right answer lies in data integration platforms like Xplenty. Xplenty is a powerful, feature-rich ETL tool for moving information from a variety of sources to your cloud data warehouse or data lake. With a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and more than 100 pre-built connectors and integrations—including SFTP—Xplenty makes it simple to build robust data pipelines for your ETL needs.

Related Reading: Allowing Xplenty access to my data on Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

Want to learn more about using SFTP with Xplenty? Get in touch with our team of data experts today to discuss your business needs and objectives, or to start your 14-day pilot of the Xplenty platform.