Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) stands as a robust protocol at the disposal of businesses, offering enhanced collaborative capabilities, operational efficiency, and heightened security for confidential data. Using SFTP, organizations can confidently exchange files among users and locations, irrespective of device variations. This adoption contributes to increased productivity levels and improved security around sensitive data, shielding it from unauthorized breaches. SFTP is useful for transferring data in a variety of file formats.

The 5 key takeaways from this article:

  • Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) stands out for its robust encryption, safeguarding the integrity of CSV files during transfer. It utilizes Secure Shell (SSH) technology, encrypting data to prevent unauthorized access and tampering.
  • Data security becomes crucial when dealing with CSV files containing financial, medical, or intellectual property data, given its sensitive nature. In such cases, methods like SFTP become crucial. 
  • SFTP surpasses FTP in security, ensuring high-level encryption and secure authentication methods. 
  • To transfer CSV files via SFTP, follow best practices like file encryption, using trusted SFTP clients and servers, regular software updates for security, and implementing data backups.
  • It’s important to employ checksum validation post-transfer to confirm data integrity. Checksums act as digital fingerprints, ensuring CSV files remain unaltered during SFTP transfers.

In this article, we will delve into managing CSV file transfers on SFTP and the best practices to do so.

Table of Contents


Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) plays an important role in ensuring the security and integrity of data transfers. It employs the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, which encrypts every bit of data during transmission, setting it apart from conventional protocols like FTP which lack this built-in security feature, and FTPS which supports SSL/TLS encryption.

CSV files are commonly used to store and share valuable information, including financial records, medical data, and intellectual property. Given the sensitive nature of such data, utilizing a dependable and secure method like SFTP becomes crucial.

In today's digital, fast-paced world, data transfers and integrations have become the new normal. The volume of data interactions is soaring, and the need to strengthen the defenses around sensitive information has become critical. Secure file transfer protocols like SFTP offer robust encryption that shields critical data from potential breaches. This safeguards privacy, increases collaboration, and ensures compliance with regulatory standards, which have become increasingly essential.

Basics of SFTP

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is a secure protocol that can be used to transfer files over a secure shell. SFTP file sharing uses encryption to protect the data being transferred, making it a more secure option than traditional FTP. 

Key benefits of using SFTP:

  • Secure transmission: SFTP encrypts all data transfers, making it much more secure than an FTP server.
  • Authentication: SFTP allows for public key authentication of both the server and client side, ensuring only the intended user has access.
  • Compatibility: SFTP can be used on any platform that supports Secure Shell like Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • Data Integrity: SFTP file transfer ensures there is no modification of data in transit.
  • Real-time access: SFTP allows multiple users to access files in real-time. This can help collaborate on documents or projects, as everyone can see the latest changes as they are made in one place.

Let’s quickly compare SFTP with the File Transfer Protocol (FTP):





High - Encrypted transfers and authentication protocols ensure data protection during transmission.

Low - Lacks inherent encryption, authentication involves plain text Usernames and passwords.

High - Offers encryption options through SSL/TLS, securing data in transit

Data Privacy

High - Data remains encrypted and secure during the transfer.

Low - Data transferred is comparatively more susceptible to interception.

High - Provides encryption options for privacy.


Uses public key authentication and Secure Shell (SSH).

Uses usernames and passwords.

Supports various authentication methods, including SSL/TLS certificates

Ease of Use

Moderate - Requires some technical knowledge to set up, complexity varies depending on the application.

Moderate - Similar to SFTP setup, can become complex depending on the use-case.

Moderate - Requires configuration of SSL/TLS certificates

Suitable For

Sensitive data sharing where security is a priority.

Non-sensitive data transfers.

Sensitive data transfers need encryption.

Related Reading: SFTP vs. FTP: Understanding the Difference

Why SFTP is Essential for CSV File Transfers?

In a world where data security is becoming increasingly crucial, the importance of Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) for handling CSV files cannot be overstated. Let’s delve into the key reasons why SFTP is the go-to choice for safeguarding the integrity of CSV file transfers.

  • Data Integrity: CSV files often contain critical data, ranging from financial transactions to customer records. Ensuring the integrity of this data is vital. Using (SSH), the data in transit remains encrypted and secure. This encryption adds a secure layer, sufficiently safeguarding CSV files from unauthorized access and tampering. With SFTP, you can trust that the data you send or receive will remain intact and unaltered.
  • Data Security: CSV files, if mishandled during transfers, can become easy targets for malicious actors. SFTP addresses this concern by ensuring end-to-end encryption, and safeguarding the files from unauthorized parties to manipulate the data. 
  • Other Methods and their Risks: There are quicker alternative methods for transferring CSV files, but when it comes to data security and reliability aspects, these approaches fall short. 
    • The standard FTP approach lacks the encryption capabilities of SFTP, leaving your data exposed to potential breaches. 
    • Email attachments can be prone to data leakage and size limitations. 
    • SFTP, on the other hand, offers a secure, private, and dependable means of transferring CSV files, mitigating the risks associated with other transfer methods.

Related Reading: How Secure is SFTP?

Best Practices for CSV File Transfer via SFTP

When transferring CSV files over SFTP, it is important to encrypt the files before transfer. This will protect the data from unauthorized access, even if the transfer is intercepted.

File Encryption

There are several different ways to encrypt CSV files. Two common methods used are symmetric encryption algorithms and public-key encryption algorithms. Let’s explore each in some detail:

  • Symmetric Encryption Algorithm: Symmetric encryption algorithms use a single key for both encryption and decryption. The sender and receiver of a message share the secret key to encrypt or decrypt plaintext. 
    An example of such an algorithm is AES. The AES algorithm uses a block size of 128 bits and keys of 128, 192, or 256 bits. The security of an AES system increases exponentially with key length.
  • Public-Key Encryption Algorithm: Public-key encryption algorithms like RSA use two keys for encryption and decryption: a public key and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt the data, and the private key is used to decrypt the data.
    To encrypt a CSV file using a public-key encryption algorithm, you will need to generate a public key and a private key using a tool like OpenSSL.

Using Trusted SFTP Clients & Servers

When transferring CSV files over SFTP, it is important to use trusted SFTP clients and servers. This will help to ensure that your data is transferred securely and that your systems are protected from any possible attack.

Here are essential steps for ensuring you're using trusted SFTP clients and servers:

  1. SFTP tool selection: There are several SFTP clients and servers available, both free and commercial. When choosing an SFTP client, it is important to select one from a trusted vendor. Some popular trusted ones include:
    • WinSCP
    • FileZilla
    • Cyberduck
  2. Server Authentication: Before connecting, ensure the server's authenticity by verifying its host key fingerprint
  3. Secure Authentication Methods: Whenever possible, prefer key-based authentication over passwords. This involves generating a public-private key pair and securely sharing the public key with the server for more robust security.
  4. Strong Encryption Protocols: Whenever possible, opt for secure and up-to-date encryption protocols like SSHv2 over SSHv1.

Regularly Update and Patch Software

Software updates play a pivotal role in maintaining the security of your systems and SFTP file transfers.

  • Security Patches: Software developers continually identify any vulnerabilities in the applications. Regular updates include essential security patches that fix known weaknesses, safeguarding your SFTP client and server from potential exploits.
  • Bug Fixes: Beyond security, updates also address bugs and glitches that could affect the reliability and performance of your SFTP software. 
  • Automated Updates: Consider configuring automated update checks and installations to ensure that you stay up to date without manual intervention. This minimizes the risk of overlooking critical updates.

Checksum Validation Post-Transfer

One useful technique for achieving data integrity while transferring files is checksum validation post-transfer. Checksums are cryptographic values or unique codes generated from the contents of a file. These codes serve as digital fingerprints of the file's data. When a CSV file is transferred via SFTP, the sender generates a checksum for the original file, and the recipient computes a checksum for the received file.

Before initiating the transfer, compute a checksum for the CSV file using a reliable algorithm like SHA-256 or MD5. Applications like FileCheckMD5 can calculate MD5 checksum values for the files.

Once the file has been transferred, compare the sender's checksum with the recipient's checksum. If they match, it indicates data integrity, assuring you that the file hasn't been tampered with during the transfer.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Failed Transfers

SFTP transfers can occasionally encounter roadblocks. Here are some common reasons behind failed transfers and their technical solutions:

  • Authentication Errors: Make sure that you are using the correct username and password for your SFTP server, and that permissions are set correctly on both the client and server.
  • Connection Issues: Check for network disruptions or firewall restrictions that might hinder the SFTP connection.
  • File Size Limitations: Confirm that file sizes don't exceed server or client limitations. It’s recommended to compress large CSV files before transfer.
  • Insufficient Storage: Verify that there's sufficient storage space on the destination server.
  • Transfer Mode Mismatch: Ensure that both client and server are configured for either binary or text mode, depending on the CSV file format.
  • Encryption Mismatch: Confirm that encryption settings (e.g., encryption algorithm and key length) match on both ends.
  • Check the SFTP server logs: The SFTP server logs may contain information about the reason for the failed transfer.

Corrupt CSV Files

Encountering corrupt CSV files during SFTP transfers can be cumbersome. Here are some steps to troubleshoot any possible file corruption issues:

  • Checksum Verification: Calculate and compare checksums before and after transfer. A mismatch indicates data corruption.
  • File Repair Tools: Utilize data recovery tools like CSV file repair tools, which recover corrupted files.
  • Compression Checks: If using compression, confirm that it's applied uniformly to prevent compression-related corruption.
  • Test the file after fixing it: Open the file in a text editor or spreadsheet application to make sure that the errors have been fixed.

Slow Transfer Speeds

There could be several causes that might cause sluggish file transfers. Here are the possible causes and ways to troubleshoot them:

  • Network bandwidth: The bandwidth of the network connection between the SFTP client and server can impact transfer speeds.
  • Server load: If the SFTP server is overloaded, it can lead to slow transfer speeds.
  • File size: Larger files will take longer to transfer than smaller files. If needed, split large files into smaller files and transfer them separately. This can improve transfer speeds when the network connection has limited bandwidth.
  • Compression Settings: Fine-tune compression settings to maximize data compression and accelerate transfer speeds if compression is in use.
  • Connection Configuration: Adjust SFTP client and server settings, including the number of concurrent connections and transfer modes, to optimize transfer speed for your specific setup.


In the world of continuous data exchange, integration, and management, ensuring the secure and seamless transfer of CSV files over SFTP is a necessity. This article has explored the significance of adopting SFTP best practices for secure CSV file transfer.

SFTP file transfer ensures data security and data integrity with encryption capabilities and authentication methods. This allows businesses to maintain confidentiality, and comply with compilations and regulations.

The article covered the essential best practices like data backups, checksum validation, and troubleshooting insights. As data continues to increase, considering the best practices becomes essential. To strengthen an organization’s data security and streamline file transfers, it is recommended to implement the best practices.

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Leveraging SFTP along with can prove to be a killer combination for your business. Get in touch with our team of data experts to discuss your business requirements or sign up for a 14-day free trial today to experience the magic firsthand.


What is the advantage of using SFTP over FTP for CSV file transfers?

SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol that encrypts data in transit, while FTP does not. This makes SFTP a better choice for transferring sensitive data, such as CSV files containing financial information or customer data.

How can I ensure the security of my CSV files during transfer?

To secure CSV files during transfer, encrypt them before sending them via SFTP. This safeguards data from unauthorized access and complies with data protection regulations.

What are common issues encountered during CSV transfers via SFTP?

Common issues include failed transfers due to authentication errors, connection problems, file size limitations, and slow transfer speeds. Corrupt CSV files can also be a challenge.

Can encrypted CSV files be transferred over SFTP without issues?

Yes, encrypted CSV files can be transferred over SFTP without issues. It is recommended to encrypt CSV files before transferring them over SFTP to protect sensitive data.

How do I know if my CSV file was transferred completely without corruption?

To verify data integrity, use checksums before and after transfer. If the checksums match, the CSV file is transferred intact without corruption.