FTP Explained

What is FTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one of the easiest, fastest, and most secure ways to exchange documents, sound files, and more over the internet. You may not know it, but more than likely, you’ve used an FTP site on the Internet before.

In the dictation and transcription industry, the most common use for FTP is exchanging audio files and transcribed documents back and forth between a transcriptionist, or transcription service providers and their clients.

What is FTPS?

FTPS (also know as FTP Secure and FTP-SSL) is an extension of the commonly used File Transfer Protocol (FTP) that adds support for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptographic protocols. Basically, it ensures that information is securely transferred using a private and safe data stream. This protects the data stream from being intercepted by unauthorized individuals.

The main purpose behind FTPS is to transfer data, but it is also used to obtain general access to the FTP server’s file system. The FTPS protocol runs on a secure channel – no clear text passwords or file data are transferred.

If I use FTPS, do I still need encryption?

FTPS is designed to allow you to transfer files over the Internet in a secure way. However, once files get where they are going, they are simply placed on the server in a folder. Those files can still be accessed by all parties with a username and password. This does not sufficiently protect sensitive data such as PHI.

If you’re working with PHI, FTPS transfers and encryption are recommended for the most secure file transfer. This is mandated by the HITECH Act of 2009 which strengthens HIPAA regulations on how PHI is handled.

What is an FTP Site?

An FTP site is like a large filing cabinet for your digital files. With a traditional filing cabinet, the person who does the filing has the option to label and organize the files however they see fit. They decide which files to keep locked and which remain public. The same is true with an FTP site.

The “key” to an FTP site is the user name and password. This allows you and your list of authorized users the ability to place documents and audio files in folders, both when sending and receiving.

Do I need special software?

No, special software is not required unless you’re looking for advanced FTP features. Generally speaking, you can use a standard web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) or a dedicated FTP software program, sometimes called an FTP Client.

In the dictation and transcription industry, security is the number one concern. The FTP Client you decide to use should support 128-bit encryption for HIPAA readiness, like TranscriptionGear.Com’s GearXport software.

Advantages over Email

FTP offers a long list of advantages over email. Emailing someone is just like mailing a letter. Do you really ever know if the recipient ever receives the letter? Under most circumstances you can assume they did, but when we’re speaking of medical dictation and transcription work, do you really want to assume?

FTP is inherently more reliable then email because your PC makes a direct connection with the FTP server, then begins to transfer the files. After the file transfer is complete, you actually see the files sitting on the server. This confirms that they are there and whoever needs to pick them up, can. A single email however can be routed through several servers before it finally gets to its designation and then you have to consider spam filters picking them up.

Most email providers impose a limited file attachment size. If the limit is exceeded when you send or your client sends an audio file, the file will not transfer and will not be received. FTP eliminates the issue completely and you can rest assured you will not encounter a job to large to transfer.

Workflow Automation

In the dictation and transcription industry, most things are time-sensitive. Utilizing powerful dictation software with FTP interfacing built-in such as the GearTools Suite can save a great deal of time and it makes sending and receiving files easier than ever. Files can simply be exchanged using predefined rules. As you type, new jobs are being transferred to you. When you finish a job, save it to a specified location and what the GearTools Suite sends it back to the FTP site so the client side can automatically download it and even print it if necessary!

What should I look for in an FTP Provider?

Your FTP site will play a big part in your business. It is absolutely necessary to investigate each FTP provider you consider and ask them questions like, “How many years have you been in business?” and “What’s your uptime like?”

When your FTP service goes down, so does your ability to transfer file. Price is always a factor, but also consider the technical support options, the company’s reputation, and the overall value of the plan.

Introducing Gear FTP

From the company that brought you idigital and GearPlayer, TranscriptionGear.Com is proud to introduce Gear FTP, now available with secure FTPS transfer. TranscriptionGear.Com’s FTP service has been designed from the ground up specifically for the dictation and transcription industry. Also, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that Gear FTP is 100% compatible with all Gear products and the idigital toll-free call-in dictation service.

Call one of our dictation experts today at 888-834-2392 for more information or visit us online at: www.transcriptiongear.com/store/FTP-Services.html