Best Managed File Transfer Software

Best Managed File Transfer Software (Top Vendors of 2021)

Shopping for managed file transfer software vendors? This comprehensive buyer’s guide will show you the best option for your organization.

What is MFT software? Managed file transfer software is a program or service that manages the secure transferring of data and files from one person to another via a network. Many large enterprises use this software rather than FTP or HTTP.

Why Is Managed File Transfer So Important for Enterprise Businesses?

File transfer is an integral part of enterprise business in our data-driven world. Just moving files from one place to another is not enough, however. Enterprise businesses call for advanced tools to schedule and secure their file transfers, and to gather insight from how their people interact with that data.

Initial file transfer protocols, namely FTP, did not come complete with security features. Protocols like FTP filled the gap by building an FTP solution with end-to-end encryption so that data transmitted over public networks couldn’t be read if intercepted.

At the enterprise level, however, several additional considerations play into file transfer:

  1. Workflow and Automation. Many organizations have complex workflows that trigger additional effects during file access and transfer. No singular file transfer protocol has that kind of power, but managed file transfer software typically does. Additionally, managed solutions can automate batch file transfers, logging, and email reporting based on user activity or time of day.
  2. Compliance. Many compliance frameworks like HIPAA or SOX require logs and reporting around the security of files and who can access them. An MFT solution can facilitate a complete, big-picture view of the reporting, security, and risk involved with file storage and transfer.
  3. Data growth. As businesses become more and more data-driven, the demand for secure, scalable, and compliant data solutions also grows. A proper MFT can provide that kind of scalability across multiple infrastructures and endpoint devices.
Secure Managed File Transfer

What Kinds of Security Do MFT Solutions Usually Include?

While not all secure MFTs are created equal, many of them come with a basic set of security protocols and features that allow them to carry the name ‘secure”.

Some of the more common protocols include:

  • SSH FTP and/or FTP over SSL. Secure and direct peer-to-peer file transfer using SSH or SSL security (respectively).
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Secure web content delivery for intranet portals and other internal file directories shared over web browsers.
  • Odette FTP (OFTP). A secure file transfer protocol created in Europe and built to handle push and pull requests, request signed receipts and data compression.
  • Applicability Statement 2 (AS2). Secure transmissions of business-to-business data used by large retailers.

Through these protocols, most secure MFTs should be compliant with many regulations, including HIPAA.

What Should I Look for in a Secure MFT Vendor?

The real benefit of secured MFTs is the combination of security and enterprise-level tools, like the following:

  • Authorization and Validation. Many MFTs can include least-privilege authentication, FIPS validation compliance, and secure enterprise storage. These aspects can help with compliance requirements, including HIPAA or FedRAMP.
  • Encryption and Decryption. Many advanced enterprise secure MFTs will come with advanced encryption and hardened storage for decryption keys.
  • Antivirus software. MFTs worth their salt will have mechanisms to perform virus scans and quarantines to isolate any malware introduced to your system.
  • Secure File Governance. Solid MFTs will provide secure file storage and governance tools that don’t compromise security. Flow authoring access controls (to work with advanced workflows), granular file access roles and user policies, and regular logging are all important.
  • Data Analytics. Many MFTs come with built-in analytics and dashboard tools to help you gather data about your data. Use this to meet compliance standards and optimize file management through automation or minimizing data scope.

The Top Secure MFT Vendors for 2021

Vendor Transfer Protocols Supported Platforms Benefits
Accellion FTPS, HTTPS, SFTP, Governed SFTP, SMB Windows, Cloud Hardened virtual appliance with emphasis on security and compliance, visibility, automation, and data availability. Provides unified, standardized logs and auditing trails for compliance and security.
IBM Aspera FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, AS2, SFTP Cloud Robust, mature, and reliable.
Globalscape EFT FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, AS2, SFTP Windows, Android, iOS, Cloud Built-in authentication, two-factor authentication.
Pro2col FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTP, AS2, SFTP Cloud MFT analytics and centralized dashboard.
Coviant Diplomat SFTP, FTPS Windows, Mac, Cloud Provides multiple auditing trails and methods for internal and external sharing.
HelpSystems GoAnywhere SFTP, SCP, FTPS, FTP, HTTPS, AS2 Windows, Mac, Cloud Intuitive browser interface, scheduling file transfers.
ActiveBatch FTP, FTPS, SFTP, OpenPGP, HTTPS Windows, Linus, Unix, Mac Simple security and permissions management, works in multiple operating systems.

IBM Aspera

As an IBM product, Aspera comes with a lot of expertise and a pedigree from the most well-known tech company in the enterprise space. Aspera includes the security and reliability that you would expect from an IBM product, but also comes with a lot of baggage. It isn’t easy to use or manage, and some users have reported issues with the firewall.

Globalscape Software EFT

The Globalscape Software EFT is well-known in enterprise spaces where document security and management are a priority. With managed tools and workflow options, it is a reputable choice for many enterprise file transfer software users. Its steep price point might scare off SMBs with a smaller user base, as will its lack of 24/7 support.


Pro2col has 15 years of experience, and they bring that to their MFT offerings. While the package itself is not as robust as some other MFT platforms (being fragmented across different secure file transfer software solutions) the core of their offering works well.

Coviant Diplomat

Coviant Diplomat has a low bar to learn and use, with a sandbox option and extensive automated reporting tools. However, this simplicity comes at a price. Key management is manual, the interface is not very intuitive, and outside of the core functionality, the learning curve is considerably steeper for more advanced features than might be comfortable for business users.

HelpSystems GoAnywhere

HelpSystems Go Anywhere is a solid enterprise MFT solution that includes workflow tools, reporting, and automation. Many users reported that this power came at the expense of simplicity and learning how to use the software was difficult. Likewise, automating simple tasks seemed to take more extensive logic to ensure operation.


ActiveBatch Workload automation excels in just that: automation. With several integrations and workflow tools, ActiveBatch is great for companies that want to streamline their work and file sharing. It does lack some key features, including documents, forms, and calendar management as well as security license and inventory management.

SolarWinds Serv-U

While this entry isn’t listed above, we thought it might be worth mentioning. You may recognize the name SolarWinds from the news. A Russian hack of the SolarWinds system, a major provider of cloud services for security firms like FireEye, has resulted in what has been called one of the most, if not the most, significant state-sponsored cyberattacks in history. Needless to say, it’s best to avoid utilizing a product with these issues until the dust settles.

How Is Accellion’s Secure MFT Solution Unique?

Accellion’s content firewall and managed file transfer services prioritize features in three categories:

  1. Security and Compliance: Accellion’s secure MFT solutions include encryption and end-to-end security standards that keep you compliant with some of the most important regulations out there, including HIPAA and FedRAMP. This includes top file transfer security protocols and encryption tools. Best-in-class security includes SSO, MFA, AV, ATP, and DLP.You can also consolidate third-party storage and communications across all your email, file transfers, web forms, and other channels by routing them through Accellion’s enterprise content firewall to protect your sensitive data.
  2. Automation: Enterprise file transfer workflows require extensive logical controls and security tools. Accellion provides automation for secure file transfer software workflows including agents to complete complex tasks at scale. All this, without the need to know code.
  3. Visibility: Accellion gives you the ability to manage file access and transfers with a high-level view of your system. Using a CISO Dashboard or SIEM, you can run reports on total access, locations, transfers, and threats through a normalized syslog.

Protect Your Data at Rest and in Transit with Accellion MFT Solutions

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Secure Managed File Transfer