SFTP Servers (SSH File Transfer Protocol, not to be confused with Simple File Transfer Protocol) use a protocol that allows for the transfer of files over a secure SSH connection.
Unlike FTP, which does not encrypt data transfers, SFTP provides the capability to securely transfer data with greater reliability and increased performance.
Such needs could include HIPAA compliant data transfers and secure corporate documents to protect from corporate espionage.
Related Post: Best SCP Server for Windows
Here is our list of the 13 best SFTP Servers for SSH File Transfers:
- Files.com Cloud – EDITOR'S CHOICE A secure cloud storage system that acts as a distribution system. Upload files to the system and then mail out links so recipients can access and download each file on demand. Start 7-day free trial.
- ExaVault – FREE TRIAL A package that includes an SFTP server that can also implement FTPS and a cloud file server.
- SolarWinds Free SFTP/SCP Server – FREE TOOL A secure file transfer manager that will run in the background and manage the transfer of files up to 4GB in size. Runs on Windows Server.
- Syncplify.me Server A file transfer manager with encryption and extra security measures that will manage multiple simultaneous transfers. Installs on Windows Server.
- FileZilla A free open source file transfer system that includes FTP, SFTP, and FTPS and runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
- zFTPServer Freeware Integrates AD user accounts and manages file transfers with FTP, FTPS, SFTP, TFTP, and HTTPS. Runs on Windows and Windows Server.
- Bitvise SSH/SFTP Server Manages high volumes of file transfers with simultaneous transfers possible. Runs on Windows and Windows Server.
- Cerberus FTP Server 8 A FIPS-validated secure file transfer server that integrates with AD and LDAP and is suitable for HIPAA sites. Installs on Windows and Windows Server.
- Sysax Multi Server A system for managing simultaneous file transfers with FTP, SFTP, FTPS, HTTP, and HTTPS. Runs on Windows systems.
- Rebex Tiny SFTP Server A free, lightweight SFTP server that is suitable for low-volume use. Runs on Windows.
- Core FTP Mini SFTP Server A straightforward secure file transfer server that is HIPAA compliant. Runs on Windows.
- freeFTPd Another lightweight and simple free SFTP server.
- CompleteFTP Α Windows SFTP server supporting secure file-transfer via FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS and SCP.
In order to use SFTP, a Client application and a Server application are needed to create the connection and facilitate file transfers.
SSH FTP servers are commonly used in conjunction with the Secure Copy Protocol (SCP).
In this article, we will discuss 13 of the Best Free SFTP Servers for Windows that are available for you to download and quickly install and begin using.
What should you look for in the secure SSH file transfer tools?
We reviewed the market for free SFTP servers and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- A secure file transfer system based on SSH
- The opportunity to try a paid product for free
- A service that can integrate with the corporate access rights manager
- Additional secure transfer options, such as FTPS
- Efficient code with a small program footprint
- A suitable throughput speed
- A useful set of features that makes installing a free tool for secure transfers a worthwhile option
With these selection criteria in mind, we have identified some effective SSH-based file transfer utilities and we have made sure to include systems that will run on each of the major operating systems.
Here's the Best SFTP Servers for SSH File Transfers:
Files.com gives you an awesome cloud tool that allows your company to have a Branded/Company portal for sending and receiving files over a Secure connection (SFTP, etc).
The Single interface for file transfers gives you the security, flexibility, and ease-of-use of enterprise grade solution at an affordable rate.
Features of this Software include:
- Receive or Send files via Email securely and Fully Encrypted – Allow file requests to be sent as well.
- Full Microsoft Office Integration with File/Folder Previews along with Real-time Collaboration for teams and companies.
- Advanced features that all for Automation (perform an action) when Files are Changed/Renamed/Deleted/Uploaded/Downloaded with integrations into popular services including Zapier, Amazon SNS, Webhooks and Microsoft Power Automate!
- Audit Dashboard to view change Logs of File Modifications, additions, etc.
- Synchronize Files/Folders with Popular Cloud Providers including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, BOX, Dropbox, Wasabi, Rackspace, Backblaze and many others.
- Provide Unique Links for File Upload/Download for Clients and Customers
- Data Retention Rules for Users, Groups, or Folders
- Assign Permissions for Users, Folders, or Groups (including Read, Write, Delete & Admin Permissions).
- API and SDK available for developers
- 1 or 2 Way Syncs of Data to other Cloud or Backup Platforms to Data Redundancy
2FA (2-factor authentication) with secures such as Google Authenticator, Duo, Authy, Yubikey, FIDO/U2F and SMS.
Advanced Security features for users and Groups include Policies for the following attributes: Passwords, Sessions, Brute Force Rules & 2FA requirements.
On top of these advanced Security features, Provisioning new users can be completed via Enterprise Identity (SSO). SSO gives you the ability to further authenticate and authorize users via LDP, Active Directory, Azure, ADFS, OneLogin, Auth0 and Okta along with many other identity providers.
- Scalable solution, making it ideal for both small businesses and enterprises alike
- Features robots user management, permissions, and access control to support long term use
- Allows users to create links to files that have special rules, such as expiration dates or click tracking
- Can compress large files for faster transfer
- Supports integrations into other cloud-based storage options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive
- While the platform is easy to use, some of the more advanced features can take time to learn and implement
Files.com is our top pick for an SFTP server because it adds in storage space for documents so you only have to upload them to the Files.com system once, then you can let their system cope with the traffic volume of distributing many copies over the internet. This cuts down the amount of traffic that your network has to cope with, particularly for promotional material that you need to send out to many recipients. Add in the free trial and you get the best free SFTP server available on the market.
While it isn’t a free tool, you can use ExaVault for free, thanks to the 30-day free trial that this system offers. The package combines and SFTP server with cloud storage space. The SFTP server can also operate with FTPS.
This is a good system for transferring large files. There is no limit to the size of files that can be uploaded to the ExaVault platform. From there, you mail out a link rather than sending a copy of the file. This link invites the recipient to access the file on the ExaVault server.
As all file access is carried out on the ExaVault server, the actions performed on them can all be logged. This is a great feature for businesses that need to comply with data protection standards.
The file transfer system and the cloud storage space are protected with encryption.
The system administrator needs to create user accounts that grant access to the file space. This allows each account involved in an access attempt to be written into the activity logs.
- Free trial
- Secure transfer and storage
- No limit on file size
- Only free during the trial period
Download a 30-day free trial
Supporting files of up to 4GB, it allows you to transfer large files such firmware and the latest iOS over your network.
Multi-thread capabilities allow for concurrent upload and download of files from multiple network devices.
SolarWinds has advanced security settings that give you control over how you transfer files using the most secure methods, along with allowing you to specify specific IP addresses and address ranges for transfers.
Since it runs as a service, it provides SFTP/SCP server availability in the background at all times.
It is compatible with the latest 64 bit operating systems.
A powerful, yet easy to use piece of software, SolarWinds Free SFTP/SCP Server is a must-have.
- Completely free SFTP server
- In-depth user authentication options
- Can set limits based on events such as deleting, uploading, and downloading – great for larger teams
- Is designed more for a technical audience, with an abundance of features and customization options
Download it FREE and Install it within 2 Mins.
4. Syncplify.me Server
This full-featured SFTP server boasts many capabilities, which meet the needs of even the most security-conscious users out there.
It fully supports Active Directory users and groups, and comes configured to prevent itself against attacks such as DoS, DDoS, password harvesting, and more.
It supports transferring multiple files simultaneously and includes support for clustered remote configuration databases and Distributed File System environments.
- Offers HIPAA compliant file transfer options
- Supports multiple transfer protocols like SFTP, FTP, and FTPS
- Can scale to 5000 clients, ideal for heavy enterprise use
- Clutter-free user interface
- Can have a sharp learning curve for newer users
This open source software provides capabilities to transfer files via SFTP among other secure and non-secure methods, including FTPS and FTP.
FileZilla supports file transfer sizes of up to 4GB, and lets you pause and resume traffic when needed.
Drag-and-drop support, remote file editing, and remote file search make it simple and easy to use without compromising security.
File-name filters and directory comparisons come standard, allowing you to ensure that the files you need transported and stored are accurate and up-to-date.
Its simple user interface operates on Windows, Linux, OS X, and more. And since it is a very popular open-source application, bugs and other issues are quickly found and fixed by developers around the world.
- Completely free tool
- Easy to use interface
- Available cross-platform for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
- Supports drag and drop transfers
- Could benefit from automatic synchronization
- Lacks in-depth scheduling features found in other tools
6. zFTPServer Freeware
zFTPServer is a full-featured and robust application designed for the most intensive corporate enterprise needs.
Using the most up-do-date security and encryption protocol, zFTPServer provides speed scheduling, automatic updates, and high-speed data transfers.
It also provides Active Directory user login support and IPv6 capability.
You can let it run automatically in the background as a system service, or bring it up in application mode, depending on whatever your need is at the time.
It uses threading and careful memory allocation and de-allocation to minimize its resource usage, and its real-time logging of events and messages is a valuable feature for system administrators. zFTPServer runs on all the latest Windows Server and PC operating systems.
- Supports Active Directory integration for simpler management on Windows Server
- Supports custom logo and branding, great for MSPs looking to white label services
- Offers built-in collaboration features for teams sharing files regularly
- The free version only supports encrypted file transfer
- In-depth setup and configuration are only included at the highest “Mega” tier
The free version allows up to five accounts and three simultaneous connections, with the ability to upgrade at very reasonable prices.
7. Bitvise SSH/SFTP Server
Bitvise SFTP & SSH Server is a light-weight, powerful, multipurpose application designed to provide secure SSH features and SFTP capabilities.
With Bitvise, SFTP can provide some of the fastest file transfer speeds possible – hundreds of MB/s can be obtained depending on the SFTP client.
It supports an unlimited number of user connections; the number and speeds of simultaneous connections are only limited by the host hardware resources.
Bitvise server supports virtual accounts and uses FIPS-certified DLL version of Crypto++ 5.3.0 for the most up-to-date and secure encrypted connections.
It is compatible with all major SFTP clients. With its simple installation and setup procedures and many capabilities, Bitvise is the ultimate in SFTP server solutions.
- Offers a GUI, a nice change from the CLI
- Supports both virtual and native WIndows users, allowing better ad-hoc access
- Supports disabling shell access for improved security in Windows environments
- The GUI could be easier to use, some options are nested and difficult to find
8. Cerberus FTP Server 8
This robust and feature-laden software provides SFTP transfer capabilities along with other secure file transfer protocols, including FTP/S and HTTPS.
Cerberus supports Active Directory and LDAP needs and is FIPS 140-2 validated for the most secure file transfer needs.
It is HIPAA compliant, meaning it is able to transfer even the most confidential patient information safely and securely.
This application allows for Ad Hoc file transfers and file integrity checking and its IP auto-banning features add an extra layer of security.
- Well done user interface that easily displays files and folder structures even in larger environments
- Built with compliance standards such as HIPAA in mind
- Features alert options that can help departments know immediately when files have been delivered, or have arrived
- Not built for small teams
- Is one of the more expensive SFTP server options
Cerberus FTP/SFTP Server 8 is compatible with Windows Server 2003 and up and Windows 7 and up, and is free for personal use after the trial period is up.
A must for any security-conscious operation.
9. Sysax Multi Server
Along with SFTP, Sysax Multi Server supports several simultaneous remote access and file transfer protocols, such as FTP, FTPS, Telnet, and Secure Shell.
It also supports HTTP and HTTPS web-based file transfers.
Its simplified user account administration allows administrators to use Windows authentication for existing Windows users on the network, or they can create custom user accounts within the software.
Sysax Multi Server allows for remote management via any web browser, and when using locally, you can use its own administration panel or the Windows Management Console.
For more advanced security, it supports public key authentication, SSL certificate generation, and IP restriction.
The corporate edition allows for unlimited simultaneous client connections.
A powerful and simple to use application, Sysax Multi Server is perfect for any SFTP server need.
- Are a combination SSH and FTP server built-in one
- Supports advanced features such as SSL cert generation, and IP restricting
- Certified compatibility for Windows Server environments
- Would like to see support for Linux/Unix
10. Rebex Tiny SFTP Server
This small, minimalist SFTP server was designed for testing SFTP clients.
This simple little application requires no installation or setup, and is perfect for the small jobs where a full-fledged server is unneeded or unreasonable, or when you need to test your SFTP client app and do not need to waste the time setting up a more complex server that you may rarely use.
It supports a single user and provides detailed activity logs.
Rebex Tiny supports DSA and RSA keys and is free for both personal and commercial uses.
It is compatible with any modern Windows version with .NET 4.0. A simple but useful application, Rebext Tiny SFTP Server is invaluable in any small-time application.
- Extremely lightweight – a good option for smaller organizations who need to be resource conscious
- Fast install, simple setup
- One of the most user-friendly options
- Completely free
- Not built for long term heavy use
- Enterprises may find this limiting in terms of scalability and features
- Sysadmins will find that the platform trades technical tools for user-friendly features
- Log and troubleshooting features could use improvement
11. Core FTP Mini SFTP Server
This very simple standalone SFTP server allows for quick transfer of secure files between computers across any network.
It provides the standard file transfer capabilities, all secured with the SSH encryption protocols.
Simple, yet effective, it is perfect for the quick jobs where a full-fledged server download and setup is not practical.
- Has a freeware version that works well for smaller organizations in a limited capacity
- Sysadmins can use the verbose log feature to quickly troubleshoot problems if they occur
- Auto start settings allow the service to always be ready, even after unexpected shutdowns
- The interface is limited and lacks some basic quality of life features
- Pricing is competitive, but still fairly high when considering the competition
- Access rules feature could use improvement
Another lightweight and simple free SFTP server. It is simple to set up and easy to run, and lets you get a secure file transfer server going in just a couple of minutes.
freeFTPd supports SFTP, FTPS as well as its non-secure cousin, FTP, and lets you transfer files securely while consuming very little system resources.
CompleteFTP is a Windows SFTP server supporting secure file-transfer via FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS and SCP.
CompleteFTP has four editions, starting with the Free Edition, which, as the name implies, is completely free for an unlimited time.
It has no limits on the number of users, transfers, or anything else, and the feature-set more or less matches that of FileZilla Server.
CompleteFTP scales from the tiniest hobby installation to the largest corporate cluster with an addition three paid editions offering many more features.
SFTP Server FAQs
Why are SFTP and SSH ports the same?
SFTP uses SSH for its transmission security and so, at the point of connection, the transaction is carried out under the SSH protocol. Thus, SFTP has to use the SSH port.
What port does SSH use?
SSH uses port 22.
Can PuTTY be used for SFTP?
PuTTY has its own implementation of SFTP, which is known as PuTTY SFTP, or PSFTP.