How to Use SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol)

If you’re looking for ways to navigate SFTP safely, we’re here to guide you through all the basic “how to use SFTP” processes.

In short, a secure File Transfer Protocol, or SFTP, is an independent protocol integrated into SSH to implement FTP commands safely through a secure connection. In cases where FTP servers are still needed, SFTP is typically taken as a drop-in replacement.

Due to underlying security features and its capacity to piggyback an SSH connection, SFTP is preferable over FTP.

For those interested, this article will cover the basic aspect of SFTP, its uses, and of course, how to use SFTP with two primary program tools, including SFTP FileZilla and more.

Let’s begin!

What is SFTP?

Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP plays the role of a network protocol that functions to transfer files. It is a method that is built on File Transfer Protocol (FTP) with Secure Shell (SSH) components alongside it, making it more secure than FTP itself.

What is SFTP?

SFTP is useful in a variety of situations and is a hero that protects any sensitive data. It supports numerous operations simultaneously while running on SSH protocol using SSH port 22.

SFTP is made up of a variety of graphical tools and acts as a drop-in replacement for FTP servers because of its lack of security and problems with application.

It can only be initiated when users make use of the SSH to log into the server, avoiding the exposure of any additional ports or maintenance of additional authentications. By validating the SSH key and providing a user ID and password, the SFTP server can authenticate itself.

What are the uses for SFTP?

File security is paramount when safeguarding your data from prying eyes. FTP is a way to upload, download and transfer data, and SFTP is a successor to it due to its encryption feature that strongly prevents anybody from eavesdropping on your data.

SFTP rose to the occasion when tunneling needed better security while offering a firewall-friendly and secure medium to transfer files. You just need access to a remote server and local system, a good connection to the internet, and a terminal window before using the server.

It acts as a storage location where files can be stored safely and retrieved with ease. SFTP, as compared to FTPS, offers a safer authentication process over firewalls. There is comparably less risk involved as it only requires a single open port to send and receive information from another server.

How to Use SFTP FileZilla

This is a free, open-source SFTP program that operates on all the major operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. The program allows users to initiate secure file upload & download between Pressable servers and a PC.

To get started with FileZilla, you can go through the following steps:

Step 1: Download FileZilla 

Visit the official FileZilla site and download the latest or the required software version of the FileZilla Client.

Step 2: Get Your SFTP Credentials 

If it’s your first visit to SFTP (or you may have simply forgotten your password) – whatever the case, make sure to get your SFTP credentials ready through the MyPressable Control Panel.

Step 3: Set-Up

With the program downloaded and your credentials ready, you can now open the program for set-up.

Once the program is open, select ‘Open Site Manager’ placed at the top right or go to ‘File>Site Manager’ via the menu section.

On the Site Manager display, click ‘New Site’ to provide a site name. Proceed to the next step, which is to select ‘SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol’.

Step 4: Enter Details

Now that your site has been created and the correct protocol is selected, you’ll have to enter some details gathered during step 2.

The details include:

  • Host
  • Protocol 
  • Logon Type
  • Username 
  • Password

Once the above details are entered, click on ‘Connect’. You can now click on OK to accept the SSL Certificate. After a complete connection, you’ll find a file list on the right.

How to Use SFTP WinSCP

Windows Secure Copy or WinSCP is another SecureFTP open-source program. But, this one only applies to the Windows OS. Similar to FileZilla, it also allows safe & secure file transfers between a remote server and a PC.

WinSCP uses cryptographical methods, which are integrated into SSH to protect login details along with private information. The program protects users against different attacks such as malicious monitoring, password sniffing, etc.

Here’s how you can get started with WinSCP –

Step 1: Download & Install

You can download the program via the official website and then install it on your PC.

Note: To utilize the software, you’ll have to set a private key in ‘Pageant Exe’. This key will then be used automatically by the program when connecting to your WinSCP account.

Step 2: Connect Account with WinSCP

Once the program is installed, open the program, and it will automatically open up a window with a Login prompt to add login information regarding your preferred location for connection.

Fill in the following details accordingly –

  • File protocol
  • Host Name
  • Port Number 
  • User Name 
  • Password 

Once all the details are filled in, click ‘Login’ to connect your account. This will prompt you to include the target server identity in the cache. Click on ‘Yes’ to avoid seeing the warning later on.

After successfully connecting to your account, all the files & folders are accessible on the right panel of the WinSCP interface. Meanwhile, local files & folders can be accessed via the left panel.

Step 3: File Upload & Download 

Now that your account is set and connected, you can start using the WinSCP program to upload files/folders into your hosting account.

To upload, access your desired file/folder via the left panel (as mentioned in the above step), right-click the item, and choose ‘Upload’.

To download the data from your account to your PC, you can access the file or folder location via the right panel of the interface, right-click the item and then select ‘Download’.

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