Better file sharing than FTP is out there
When presented with the need to share files with users outside the network, many businesses rely on the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server that came with their web hosting plan. While FTP can certainly do the job, it also has many limitations. Modern solutions based on web browsers and standard, secure web protocols are a better and more flexible solution when it comes to file sharing.
FTP consists of a server program, a client program and an Internet protocol with which they exchange software. It was state of the art solution when it was invented in 197, long before there was anything you could rightly call an Internet. A lot has changed since then, not much has changed with FTP. It survives largely out of inertia and the desire for engineers to show their colleagues they don't need any of the easy to use software.
Out of the box, FTP is not only confusing and difficult to use, but it is insecure and can present configuration problems. FTP communications default to plain, unencrypted text. Even to transfer non-text files you need to issue a BIN command. The default configuration can have trouble with NAT systems, in which internal computers use an internal IP addressing system which is mapped to one or more external Internet IP addresses. To get around this users may need to issue a PASV command.
But the real problem is that FTP is a different system from the one users know for sharing files on their internal network. Making them learn a different and cryptic system is a waste of effort and an invitation to error.
A better alternative is to use a product which allows the secure mapping of file shares on the company's network across the Internet. When properly configured with well written software, this option presents minimal security risk and makes both the sharing of files and access to them much more natural.
SynaMan (www.synaman.com, pronounced sin-a-man) from Synametrics Technologies, provides such access and makes file sharing easier and more secure by allowing integration with Windows Active Directory. This means that only authorized users can access files from outside or inside the network. Users can use the same username and password they use to log on to the network in order to gain access to the files. And administrators can use their familiar Active Directory tools to decide which users and groups have access to particular files.
Modern software like SynaMan provides other must have features that you just don't get with FTP: easy, secure web browser access, mobile access, the ability to install on just about any system and to transfer very large files.
Everyone has FTP access but that doesn't mean everyone should use it. Whether you're sharing files with remote employees, partners or customers, you can do better than FTP.