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SFTP and API Integration – Which is Better? 

SFTP and API Integration – Which is Better?

When transferring data between platforms, security is paramount. Many businesses utilize SFTP to securely transfer flat files, making it ideal for integrating data that contains critical information like customer records or other sensitive data.

This eliminates the need to manually download, update, and re-upload data files, which can introduce crucial errors into the system. However, APIs offer a more dynamic way to exchange data, making them better suited for real-time integration.

SFTP is faster

SFTP provides the quickest and most straightforward way to transfer files. It’s also more reliable for businesses that need to exchange data in batches and at scheduled intervals. However, APIs are a better option if your business requires real-time data exchange or needs to interact with the data during transmission. However, developing and maintaining an API can be costly and resource-intensive.

SFTP is designed to help protect sensitive information in transit by encrypting data at rest and requiring strong authentication to prevent data breaches. It’s an excellent choice for businesses that adhere to regulatory requirements like GDPR and HIPAA. In addition, SFTP can be used to quickly transfer large files, such as medical records and billing data.

While SFTP is secure, it still has its limitations. SFTP servers require an SFTP client, software that allows users to connect to an SFTP server and download or upload files. These programs are often vulnerable to cyber attacks, and recent research shows that over 400 million FTP servers have been exposed online.

Moreover, while SFTP provides encryption for data in transit, it does not offer the same level of security provided by managed file transfer (MFT) solutions. An MFT platform can integrate with a wide range of enterprise systems and end-to-end workflows, making it easier to automate data transfers. Additionally, it can monitor and audit file transactions to meet compliance requirements and governance policies.

SFTP is more secure

SFTP vs. API integration offers valuable solutions for transferring data between systems, but which is better depends on your business’s needs and technical capabilities. For instance, if you need to transfer large flat files with minimal human interaction, you may be best served by SFTP. However, if real-time data exchange is required, APIs may be the right choice.

SFTP uses SSH technology to provide advanced file security features. It encrypts the communication between client and server and supports passwords or public key authentication for user access. Moreover, it prevents malicious users from accessing the SFTP server by using a firewall and IP whitelist to filter out unauthorized requests.

Another benefit of SFTP is that it can be automated with a script to transfer information from system to system. This reduces employee time spent downloading and updating data files and can help avoid errors that disrupt workflows. Furthermore, SFTP servers often support multiple file formats for maximum flexibility.

In contrast, APIs can integrate software applications but require more technical expertise and resources. Moreover, they don’t work as well for real-time data exchange as SFTPs. 

SFTP is easier to use

SFTP is an easy-to-use data transfer method that works with various systems and offers superior security features. It prevents unauthorized third parties from viewing flat file content and requires authorization from the user to access a system.

It also supports multiple file formats and allows business users to import and update large amounts of data in bulk. In comparison, APIs work on a record-by-record basis and can be costly and time-consuming.

Despite its advantages, SFTP has a few drawbacks. First, it requires employees to manage sensitive information manually, causing inefficiencies and mistakes. This is especially true for large files constantly downloaded, updated, and re-uploaded.

This process can drain HR administrators’ time and resources, resulting in critical errors that can disrupt systems.

Moreover, SFTP doesn’t log security violations or authenticate users – basic capabilities for combatting today’s cyber threats. Consequently, it’s essential to use managed file transfer software to secure B2B transfers. It’s also a cost-effective solution for high-volume transfers and has a free, fully functional trial. It’s ideal for businesses in data-sensitive industries, such as healthcare. 

SFTP is more expensive

If you need to exchange data in real time, APIs are a better option than SFTP. However, implementing and maintaining APIs can be more expensive than a flat-file integration solution. The type of integration you need will also depend on how standardized or customized your company systems are.

This is because native API architectures work best when plugging into systems that work similarly. When you have a highly customized system, it may be more suitable to use an SFTP-based solution instead of an API.

One of the main problems with SFTP is that it doesn’t have any built-in means to notify clients of file system changes in real time. You’ll have to manually poll the SFTP server regularly and compare each file to the last one you fetched. This can be time-consuming and inefficient.

When a file is uploaded, it triggers an automated message to be sent to a custom app using an HTTPS request with JSON payloads containing relevant information about the new upload. This makes it easy for your team to stay updated on file-based workflows without manually polling the server.

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