Why Cloud Storage with FTP Access is a Bad Idea

At first glance, you might find the idea of using FTP to be appealing.

Just signing into your favorite cloud storage website with a username and password may seem like an easy way to manage files on your computer, but it’s actually not a good idea.

Hopefully, our findings below can share more insights on some of the reasons not to use FTP-based storage.

First off, let us understand what is FTP?

What is FTP

cloud storage ftp

A common tool used in the day-to-day life of an IT professional, FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.

FTP is a very simple and easy-to-use protocol that allows the transfer of files from one computer to another on a network.

While most people have come to know FTP as being slow, it’s actually not true.

You might hear of Filezilla and Cyberduck.

Both of these services are great FTP tools and if you configure them properly, they will have the file transfers speed of your destination server uploading/downloading speed limit.

I recommend using Filezilla because it is very easy to use and has an intuitive interface.

I, myself is a Filezilla client user for my hosting purposes but not for cloud storage.

There are good reasons why giant cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon Cloud Storage do not allow FTP usage for their cloud storage services.

What is wrong with FTP?

Don’t get me wrong here.

FTP itself is totally fine and I enjoyed using them as well. It is the application and usage purpose that I am talking about.

As you can see in the following two images, FTP traffic can be very slow and consumes a lot of bandwidth.

This is why you might experience buffering time when downloading files with FTP.

With a standard FTP application speed, it’s hard to imagine how long it will take to download or upload files with this protocol.

It takes much longer than an equivalent transfer speed by other means.

There are many security concerns with FTP.

security concerns with ftp

It is a fact that unencrypted FTP servers are easy to hack and data theft or removal is quite frequent.

Using an unencrypted FTP is like leaving your door unlocked. Anyone can walk in and take whatever they want.

And if the main purpose of you signing up for a cloud storage service is to access files from your home computer remotely, then leaving open a door like this to hackers is not a good idea.

The creation of FTP in the first place was created in the 1970s.

Back in the day, FTP was used for moving files to mainframe computers.

If you look at the way FTP is designed, it’s very clear that it is not made for transferring files on a packet-switched network.

That’s why many FTP tools have developed techniques to improve transfer speeds, but the fact remains that FTP is not secure and easy to hack.

There are several other reasons why cloud storage providers do not want you using FTP.

Many cloud storage services do not allow users to upload large amounts of data.

The password is often stored locally if you installed an FTP client and is usually easy to find if your computer were corrupted.

Hackers are already familiar with the FTP protocol, so breaking into services using this method is not difficult.

So, What Are The Alternatives?

Most major cloud storage providers have their own transferring protocol that they implement or adhere to.

Amazon Cloud Storage has its own Amazon S3 protocol, and Google Drive uses Google’s own Drive API or app-hosting API to transfer files.

In fact, there are many alternatives to FTP that you can use for cloud storage.

Not only do these service providers offer an easy-to-use interface but they also provide a secure environment for users where they can upload and store their files safely.

FTP is not the right solution for cloud storage users because it cannot guarantee data security and privacy.

Which Cloud Storage Allows FTP Access

One big question that needs to be answered is whether cloud storage providers allow FTP.

No, the short answer is no.

Most cloud storage services have not found a way to implement FTP securely, and therefore they often disable the protocol from their services and will only allow access using their own protocols.

The one exception seems to be using third-party software such as cloud to cloud management, but you won’t find many people using it even then.

FileZilla Pro now supports some of the major cloud storage protocols.

Below is the one that can work with FileZilla Pro:

  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Amazon S3
  • Backblaze B2
  • Onedrive

Difference Between FTP Server & Cloud Storage

ftp server vs cloud storage

As mentioned earlier, FTP is not a suitable protocol to use for cloud storage.

Cloud storage providers use their own protocols to manage and control each of their servers.

Some of the more popular are Amazon S3 and Google Cloud Storage.

The companies created these protocols because they want users to trust their service with data security and privacy in mind.

To use the FTP, you’ll need to set up the FTP client on your device.

Once connected, you’ll be able to drag and drop files and folders between the machine and the server.

Cloud storage providers also have their own clients that you can install or you can access through their website.

This will allow you to upload, download, and download files remotely.

For those who already have a cloud storage service, whether paid or free, it will be redundant to install an FTP client on your device.

Not to mention, you will still need to set up and fill up all the necessary credentials to your FTP client which can get very technical for an average user.

Word of advice, save yourself from all the hassle and just use what the cloud storage services prepared for you.

Who Are Cloud Storage FTP For?

FTP is for those users who are more experienced in file transfer and handling.

Instead of going through the trouble of setting up an FTP client and creating user credentials, you might consider transferring files using the cloud storage protocol.

The main idea is to connect directly to your online storage without using FTP/SFTP.

All you need to do is open up your cloud storage account on any web browser and connect to your remote storage server or address.

If you had no idea what I am talking about, then you should not use FTP for cloud storage.

Unfortunately, I had to endure this when I was taking my first steps with cloud storage.

I believed that it would be helpful for me to share what I learned since it was so difficult for me to understand.

In my opinion, online storage with FTP is a solution only for individuals and companies that are very experienced with network protocols and even tech-savvy.

For beginners, cloud storage is about file storage and sharing files with people you trust.

Though there are more dedicated secure file sharing services for those who need to send files particularly.

Using online storage FTP does not make sense because the protocol of an FTP server is not made for security and privacy.

Conclusion: What Are The Future for Cloud Storage FTP?

Cloud storage has been around for over a decade.

More and more users are getting interested in cloud storage, especially those who need to store and share large amounts of data.

These cloud storage providers have found it necessary to build up their own servers with patented protocols to ensure that their customers’ files are safe and secure.

This is one reason why you will not see companies allow FTP access to their cloud storage service.

The future of cloud storage will likely see more cloud storage providers putting more emphasis on security and privacy.

As for now, if you are part of the vast majority that do not need to use an FTP client to transfer files, then by all means, maybe in the near future, you won’t have to.