Organizations often have numerous departments and employees of all skill sets using the same CRM. In Salesforce, transferring data and files from an external location can be complicated, especially when dealing with confidential information.

This data can be shared and ingested in many different ways, with files being one of the most common. Files come in many different shapes, formats (CSV, Excel, text, XML, JSON, etc), and sizes and often require some cleaning and normalization before being loaded into Salesforce.

An SFTP solution is an excellent option for securely preparing and loading data into Salesforce. Below is a step-by-step guide on SFTP to Salesforce data integration

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Here are five key takeaways:

  • SFTP is a client-server protocol to transfer files and data securely. While beneficial for many use cases, it is vital when transferring any sensitive data, such as health records.

  • For file data integration, SFTP is the golden standard. To limit errors, invest in tools to streamline the integration process. 

  • Data breaches are on the rise as more people and organizations fall victim. Data security is no longer an option — it’s a requirement. 

  • Take the proper steps before you integrate data, ensuring you organize and cleanse data while prioritizing a secure transfer. 

  • Data pipelines and integration platforms streamline this process, enabling you to establish an automated and secure data flow.

Table of contents

What Is SFTP?

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a client-server protocol designed alongside Secure Shell (SSH) for greater web security. 

SFTP does exactly what the acronym states — it is a way to transfer files across a network securely. This protocol is usually more secure than FTP (File Transfer Protocol) because SFTP encrypts commands and files before traveling over a network connection.

The protocol does not contain built-in authentication mechanisms; users must rely on SSH keys or passwords to authenticate themselves when transferring data between servers.

While SFTP has been around for a long time, it still plays a major role in B2B data sharing. Companies use SFTP heavily for sharing file data both internally and externally. SFTP is a tried and trusted method for data sharing due to: 

  • Simple to set up and manage 

  • Can handle all file types and mediums

  • Highly secure (the preferred option to FTP as a result)

SFTP Use Cases

20 years from now, we may look back and laugh, thinking that we used to use files and SFTP so heavily in our business workflows. However, with SFTP’s security and flexibility, it’s one of the most popular methods of sharing and receiving data. While there is a major shift toward API-based data integration, file data is still the most common method for data integration, and whenever files are involved, SFTP is typically involved, too.

Some of the most common SFTP use cases include:

Automating Manual Data Processes

Many companies still spend inordinate amounts of time manually preparing and processing data. The majority of this time is spent working with file data, typically CSV files and Excel files. In order to automate these manual data processes, SFTP (in combination with an integration tool) is the perfect medium to use when sharing or receiving data. Issues caused by human error are also eliminated by automating manual data processes.

Exporting Data from Systems

While companies and systems are shifting toward an API-first model for exposing data from their systems, it’s still a pipedream for many companies. This means that exporting data from systems via files is still the most common method. In order to make the files easily accessible, the files are typically exported to an SFTP folder. This is particularly prevalent when working with legacy systems that do not support any type of direct connection.

Adhering to Security Protocols

Many companies have security protocols where they don’t permit users to access specific systems and databases directly. In scenarios where users or teams need access to data stored in these locations, exporting a file copy of the data to an SFTP folder is a common workaround. With seamless access authentication, safe and secure access can be established instantly. 

Sharing Data With External Parties

When companies and their security teams do not wish to open up any holes in their company firewall, they can export the required data to an SFTP folder, and the external party can access the data from there. 

Why Should You Use SFTP When Loading File Data to Salesforce?

Security is a massive factor when deciding how to load data into company systems. 

Using a Secure File Transfer Protocol is essential when dealing with sensitive file data. File transfers expose data to higher risks than static data because when data is in the transferring process, it risks data interception from hackers or unintended recipients. If you are reading this and your company is using FTP, it is highly recommended to move to SFTP to ensure maximum security.

Organizations using Salesforce data, whether it be information about customers or subscribers, often have highly sensitive information stored within the software. So, transferring to and from Salesforce must be handled with extreme care. When files are involved, SFTP is crucial in this data integration process, and with the right planning, it can be rather seamless. For example, Salesforce offers the option to classify sensitive data based on your data management policies.

So why should you use SFTP when loading file data to Salesforce? SFTP is the industry standard for secure file data transfer and, when paired with the right integration tool, can automate the whole data integration process. 

Things to Consider Before Integrating Data

Before starting a data integration project, there are some essential things to consider, some of which will be dependent on your organization and associated use cases. Salesforce offers best practices to follow. For example, after you identify the data to be integrated, create templates, populate them, and prepare the destination org. 

At the very least, before you integrate any data, be sure to address the following steps:

1. Organize the data

First, the data is organized and easily accessible. If data is disorganized and difficult to access, this will cause delays in the overall project and lead to potential complications in the future when updates or changes are required. 

2. Cleanse the data 

When importing a data source or information from multiple locations, cleansing before the data integration is very important. This process involves finding and removing errors to ensure your data is correct and of the highest quality as well as making sure the data matches the expected format of the receiving system.

3. Ensure the transfer is secure

As discussed, ensuring real-time data transfer is secure is critical when dealing with sensitive information. The previous two steps won’t matter much if your data is hacked. For most businesses, this would lead to a tarnished reputation or worse — legal action. If you haven’t already, it’s recommended that you develop a data security policy

The best way to secure the transfer is by using a secure data integration platform that supports SFTP to Salesforce workflows.

How SFTP Secures Your Integration

When you export data, SFTP protects the integration process by providing secure connections and limiting errors. While APIs are secured using various authentication methods, the SFTP protocol is the trusted option for file data transfer.

To protect "man-in-the-middle" attacks, SFTP manages public key authentication via one of its various protocols and ensures encryption on all transmissions.

When installing an SFTP on a new system, that system will automatically gain protection with no extra steps required after initial authentication has been established. 

Setting up an SFTP Server

SFTP transfers files securely over an open network, using the same encryption as SSL/TLS (secure sockets layers).

When using an SFTP, given the authentication measures in place, no one can intercept the information while it's being transferred from system to system and read its contents. 

There are two main ways to set up an SFTP Server.

  • Build it manually

  • Use a managed cloud service

To manually build an SFTP server, using a Linux machine is a recommended solution. When Using a Linux machine, manually creating accounts, passwords, and public keys and assigning various permissions will occur.

If using Windows servers, using 3rd party software such as Filezilla SFTP Server or WinSCP will be required.

However, cloud-based solutions may be a more suitable option for individuals who may not be as familiar with the server interface and processes.

One of the best options is using SFTP To Go for STFP hosting. By using this service, you can have an SFTP server set up and ready for use in minutes.

After configuring the STFP server, the server must be connected before transferring files. 

Various commands are required to transfer from local machines to remote servers and vice versa. Here is a list of commands you may need to know. 

Once the server is established, a data pipeline can help expedite the transfer process into Salesforce.

Data Pipelines for SFTP to Salesforce Integration

When integrating systems with Salesforce, a data pipeline can expedite the transfer in a safe and secure manner. If the data transfer happens from multiple locations, having a data pipeline removes the time spent manually preparing and transferring data. 

Data pipelines can be complicated if using manual integrations. However, third-party software and data integration tools can help streamline the process. has a drag-and-drop solution that allows team members with varying levels of technical expertise to operate and organize data pipelines.

To utilize data integration in the data-transferring process, connections need to be created on both ends. In this scenario, the SFTP connection would be set up for the source and the Salesforce connection for the destination. 

Automate SFTP to Salesforce Integration With’s point-and-click, drag-and-drop platform allows companies to automate the ingestion and preparation of loading file data to Salesforce. In as little as 30 minutes, companies can have their SFTP to Salesforce data pipelines set up and automated to run from as often as every 5 minutes to whatever time frequency is desired. 

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One of the main reasons why leading companies like 7-Eleven, Samsung, and Philip Morris choose for SFTP to Salesforce integration is its data transformation layer. Oftentimes, companies have file data that needs to be transformed and normalized before being loaded into Salesforce.’s data transformation layer provides 220+ low-code data transformations to automate all data preparation requirements. 

Common data transformation requirements companies have when working with file data include filename updates, adding/removing/updating headers, and joining data from various data fields to match the required format in Salesforce

SFTP is just one of’s many source connectors, you can fetch data from any source whether it be databases, data warehouses, ERPs, or API usinge’s REST API connector.

Another popular feature for companies doing SFTP to Salesforce integration is Workflows.’s Workflow functionality allows companies to build dependencies and logic into their data pipelines. So, for example, if you need your data pipelines to execute in a specific order and certain pipelines must be finished before other pipelines start, this can all be achieved through Workflows.

A global customer base requires global support. With team members in 10+ countries and 24/7 support, supports their clients across all of their global teams and offices. Whether you are troubleshooting an SFTP ETL issue, have questions about an SFTP client, or want to know more about ETL functionality, take advantage of 

Interested in getting started? Access your demo today!