Dropbox lets you store files, back up data, distribute information—and replace that tired old FTP server.
FTP servers are perfectly easy to use… if you’re an IT manager. But for the rest of us, figuring out FTP can be frustrating, time-consuming and ultimately fruitless. And, even if you can, there are plenty of issues that make FTP hosting a less-than-optimal solution. Slow transfers, complicated access controls and the need for special software mean headaches lie ahead.
Dropbox lets anyone back up, share and access files easily. No need to manually log in to a server and wait for files to upload one by one, like with FTP hosting. Dropbox makes transferring files from anywhere simple:
Windows and Mac: Just copy or save files to the Dropbox folder, and they’ll be uploaded automatically.
Web: Drag and drop files from your desktop right into your browser.
iOS and Android: Upload files with just a few taps in the Dropbox mobile app. Or set up automatic camera uploads to copy photos and videos to Dropbox in the background.
(Not all features available on all Dropbox plans; compare our plans to find the version right for you.)
FTP servers require live, uninterrupted connections to upload and download files. But Dropbox picks up even when your internet goes out. We’ll automatically resume interrupted transfers when your connection’s back up—no more blocking off the afternoon next time you need to upload a large file.
Plus, a trio of advanced technologies ensure you and your recipients go from “syncing” to “synced” as fast as possible:
Delta sync: We only transfer the portion of the file that's changed since you last synced—not the whole thing.
LAN sync: If someone else running Dropbox on your local network has a file you need, we'll transfer it from them instead of hogging your internet bandwidth.
Streaming sync: Even if a large file hasn't finished uploading to Dropbox, we'll start downloading it to other linked devices instead of waiting for the file transfer to complete.
Sharing a sensitive document through an FTP or SFTP server? Get ready to set up a new login – for each person you’re sending it to. Dropbox, though, lets anyone send files or folders simply and securely:
Shared links: Create a link to any file or folder in your Dropbox to paste into emails or chats to send to anyone. On the other end, recipients won’t even need special software to preview and add comments to your files. You can even password-protect your link and add an expiration date to help make sure only the right people can see what you’re sending.
Shared folders: Working on a whole set of files with other people? Shared folders give editing access to the people you choose—and get files to recipients faster by automatically syncing to their devices.
Access control: Don’t waste time creating separate logins for each recipient. With Dropbox, all you need to do is enter email addresses, and you’ll have full control over who sees what. Control whether shared link recipients can download or preview only, and whether shared folder collaborators can view or edit, with user-friendly settings. It’s a world away from FTP’s complicated, UNIX-based read-write-execute permissions.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but securing an FTP server is every bit as complicated as transferring files. The FTP hosting standard was developed long before anyone could have imagined the brute force attacks, packet captures and spoofing attacks it’s now vulnerable to. But right out of the box, Dropbox gives you the security you need to keep data safe:
Encrypted transfers: No need to purchase and configure SSL certificates, or set SSH and VPN tunnels. Dropbox encrypts network traffic with SSL/TLS and uses 256-bit AES encryption at rest to make sure prying eyes stay blind.
Account protection: Dropbox offers advanced security tools to protect user accounts. Two-step verification, SSO provider integration, and remote data wipe ensure you—and only you—can get into your Dropbox.
Detailed auditing: Dropbox Business admins can access extensive sharing activity for their teams, to track how data is shared inside and outside your company.
We get it—when you’ve been using a tool for so long, it can be hard to let go. Especially if you’ve built business processes around FTP. So if you’re looking to use Dropbox and FTP together, our partner integrations can make it happen:
FTP syncing: Connect your FTP server and your Dropbox account to copy files back and forth automatically. Enterprise content migration platforms let you easily streamline this process.
Automation: A number of best-in-class workflow tools let you automatically take actions on files to integrate Dropbox with existing, FTP-dependent processes.
Custom-built workflows: If you’re looking for deeper integration, the DBX Platform gives you the development tools you need to bridge Dropbox and your FTP deployment.
What is FTP or File Transfer Protocol?
FTP—which stands File Transfer Protocol—is a set of rules that networked computers follow to transfer files between the requester (also called a “client”) and a server. In a standard transfer, the client requests the files and the server transfers them to a designated folder or directory.
What’s the difference between FTP and Dropbox?
File transfers with Dropbox are faster and more secure than FTP servers. Dropbox simplifies transfers by allowing anyone with the web or desktop app to access the files you share with them—and they don’t even need a Dropbox account.
How do I control access to files and folders I’ve shared with Dropbox?
There’s several ways to control access to files and folders shared with Dropbox, depending on how the files or folders were originally shared. If you created a shared link, you can disable the link to prevent access to the files or folders. If you’re on Dropbox Professional or Business plans, you can disable downloads so files will only be viewable on dropbox.com. Or, you can remove collaborators from a shared folder, with the option to delete the file or folder from their devices the next time they connect to the internet.
How long does it take for Dropbox to sync?
Sync with Dropbox depends on bandwidth available, file sizes, and internet speed. You can check the progress of syncing files by monitoring the transfer speed, number of files remaining, and the estimated time to completion.
Dropbox optimizes bandwidth usage so file sync won’t interfere with your normal internet usage. It‘s possible to customize your bandwidth-usage settings to adjust the upload rate, or even remove automatic throttling.
Can interrupted transfers to Dropbox be resumed?
Upload and download large files easily, even if your internet connection is interrupted. Dropbox automatically resumes interrupted transfers when your connection is available again, unlike FTP servers that need an uninterrupted connection to complete file transfers.