Have You Heard of eDiscovery HTTP and FTP Uploads?

06 April 2021 by UV ediscovery uploads http ftp

Takeaway: HTTP and FTP are two upload options designed for different purposes. HTTP is better for simple and quick file uploads, while FTP is geared towards transferring larger batches of files. Ideally, you want eDiscovery software that offers both options.

There are all sorts of file transfer ‘protocols’ – for example, SCP (secure copy protocol), AS2, AS3, AS4 (Applicability Statement 2, 3, 4), and so on. But FTP and HTTP (and their more secure equivalents – FTPS and HTTPS) are two of the more popular ones for eDiscovery. So, what are they and which one is better?

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) was developed as a way of sharing web pages.

When you surf the net, you’re bouncing around between web pages interconnected by clickable links. And there are a set of rules (i.e., transfer protocols) that control how these interlinked pages (i.e., ‘hypertext’) are loaded onto your computer. ‘HTTP’ is a kind of file transfer protocol developed in the 90s, specifically for web pages. But it’s unique in that it’s customizable (programmers use the word ‘extensible’) for other uses, too. So, it was initially meant to fetch web documents but evolved to transfer images, video, HTML forms, etc.

An HTTP ‘system’ has many components: A client, a web server, and proxies that connect these two.

The ‘client’ in an HTTP system is usually a web browser, but it can be something else, too – like a web-crawling bot. The client sends a request to a ‘web server’ (i.e., an advanced computer with special software), which sends a response back to the client. These requests and responses bounce back and forth via gateways called ‘proxies’ (e.g., routers, modems, etc.), which may leave the requests intact or modify them when needed. To surf the web, your browser sends a series of HTTP requests and constructs a web page in stages. For example, it’ll first fetch the basic unformatted version of the web page (i.e., the raw HTML document). It’ll then send follow-up requests for things like formatting and layout information. And finally, it’ll mix all these resources to create the web page.

The main advantage of HTTP is that it’s easy to use.

HTTP was designed to be simple enough to use without having to download specialized software. And this makes it ideal for people without much programming experience. Also, it’s very efficient in transferring tiny slices of data like web pages.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a transfer protocol that’s optimized for sending and receiving large files, not web pages.

FTP predates HTTP by a couple of decades. It was developed in the 70s as a secure way of connecting two computers to transfer files. And (unlike HTTP) in an FTP system, clients and servers are connected directly, with no proxies and intermediaries as gateways.

Sending files via FTP is slightly more complicated than via HTTP. So, you’ll need an FTP client (i.e., special software) to help.

There are two parts to the FTP sharing process. First, your FTP client connects to the server via the server address (e.g., ftp.yourcompany.net), and the server verifies the FTP client by asking for a username and password. Once you’ve typed those in, the actual file transfer can begin. (Note: some FTP servers bypass the username/password verification process.)

FTP might be complicated for non-IT users, but it comes with many advantages.

Here’s why FTP file-sharing is useful:

  1. Your files are kept secure because of the authentication information you’ll enter. Newer versions of FTP (e.g., FTP-Secure) further encrypt your data, adding another layer of security.
  2. You can control the level of access different people have to FTP files. The better FTP servers can control who gets to upload, download, delete, share, and edit files. This is perfect for larger organizations with multiple levels of security clearances for different employees.
  3. It’s faster than HTTP. HTTP transfers often have file size limits and take a long time to transfer larger chunks of data. In contrasts, FTP transfers are lightning-fast. You get to transfer gigabytes of data at a go, instead of one file at a time. (With HTTP, you’ll have to re-browse your computer to find each new file to transfer)
  4. You can schedule and resume transfers. With FTP transfers, you can queue a large batch of files and schedule them to transfer later. For example, you can set them up to transfer over the weekend to avoid eating up bandwidth during the workweek. And even if the transfer is stopped partway through (e.g., your internet connection is cut off), you can resume it once you’re back online. With HTTP transfers, you’d have to restart the transfer from the beginning.

So, which is better for eDiscovery? It depends. They each have a different purpose, so you’ll want eDiscovery software that offers both.

HTTP is simpler but slower, and FTP is faster but more complicated. So, one isn’t universally better than the other. It depends on what kind of file transfer you want. HTTP is more convenient for the average user because you get to drag-and-drop your files into your eDiscovery browser. It’s something simple and intuitive that we all know how to do without downloading specialized FTP software. However, if you’ve got a huge batch of files to upload, you might want to schedule them for later and have a ‘resume upload’ option, just in case. Here, FTP is the better choice.

Looking for eDiscovery software that offers both HTTP and FTP transfers? Try GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery service that is perfect for small- and midsize law firms and companies.

  • It costs just $27 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website. (Note: You’ll get a free 512 MB trial case to sample, first)
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up front how much you’ll be paying. It takes just a few clicks to move from one plan to another, and billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch and you’re good to go. Plus, it’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • It keeps you flexible. To build a defensible case, you need to be able to add and delete files freely. Many applications charge to process each file you upload, so you’ll be reluctant to let your case organically shrink and grow. And this stifles you. With GoldFynch, you get unlimited processing for free. So, on a 3 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 3 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 3 GB, your plan upgrades automatically and you’ll be charged for only the time spent on each plan. That’s the beauty of prorated pricing.
  • Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to learn more about GoldFynch?