AWS Transfer Family vs DataSync: A Comprehensive Comparison

Key Takeaway:

Feature/AspectAWS Transfer FamilyAWS DataSync
PurposeTransfer files into and out of Amazon S3 using SFTP, FTPS, and FTP.Move large amounts of data online between on-premises storage and AWS services.
Supported ProtocolsSFTP, FTPS, FTPDataSync’s own optimized protocol
Integration PointsAmazon S3Amazon S3, Amazon EFS, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server
AuthenticationSupports identity providers like AWS Directory Service, Okta, etc.Uses AWS IAM
Pricing (US East – Ohio)$0.30 per hour per protocol, $0.04 per GB for uploads and downloads.$0.0125 per gigabyte (GB)
Additional CostsCharges for S3, Route 53, API Gateway, etc.Charges for AWS services, PrivateLink, CloudWatch, etc.
Use CasesReplacing traditional file transfer workflows with a cloud-based solution.Data migration, data processing, and regular data backup to AWS.
Cost StructureHourly for each protocol enabled and per GB for data transfer.Per-GB for data copied.
Key DifferencesFocus on traditional file transfer protocols.Uses its own optimized protocol for high-speed data transfer.
The table above summarizes the key features, differences, and similarities between AWS Transfer Family and AWS DataSync.

Continue reading to delve deeper into the intricacies, benefits, and best use cases for each service and know when to use AWS Transfer Family vs Datasync.

In today’s data driven, cloud-centric world, transferring data efficiently and securely is paramount. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers two prominent services for this purpose: AWS Transfer Family and AWS DataSync. This article delves into the intricacies of AWS Transfer Family vs AWS DataSync, offering a side-by-side comparison to help you make an informed decision.

What is AWS Transfer Family?

AWS Transfer Family
AWS Transfer Family. Image Source: AWS

AWS Transfer Family is a fully managed service designed to facilitate seamless transfers of files into and out of Amazon S3. It supports traditional file transfer protocols, making it an ideal solution for businesses looking to migrate their existing file transfer workflows to the cloud.

  • Overview and Primary Use Cases: AWS Transfer Family is perfect for businesses that need to share data with partners, migrate file transfer workflows, or simply transfer data into and out of Amazon S3 using familiar, open protocols. For a deeper dive into AWS Transfer Family, check out AWS Transfer Family 101.
  • Supported Protocols: It supports Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), File Transfer Protocol over SSL (FTPS), and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Learn more about securing these transfers in Securing FTP Transfers to Amazon S3.
  • Integration Points: AWS Transfer Family service integrates directly with Amazon S3, allowing users to seamlessly transfer files to and from their S3 buckets using familiar file transfer protocols like SFTP, FTPS, and FTP. Alternatively, if need to setup an EC2 backed FTP server, you can read more here.

What is AWS DataSync?

AWS DataSync. Image Source: AWS

AWS DataSync is a data transfer service that makes it easy to move large datasets between on-premises storage and AWS storage services, or even between AWS storage services.

  • Overview and Primary Use Cases: Designed for high-speed, secure data transfer, DataSync is ideal for data migration, processing, and regular backups to AWS.
  • Unique Features: Unlike traditional file transfer methods, DataSync uses its own optimized protocol to accelerate data transfer.
  • Integration Points: ataSync seamlessly integrates with multiple AWS storage services, including Amazon S3, Amazon EFS, and Amazon FSx for Windows File Server. This versatility allows users to efficiently transfer data for tasks like migrations, backups, or regular synchronizations.

AWS Transfer Family vs DataSync: Cost Structure

Charges Based on Usage

For AWS Transfer Family, users are billed in two primary ways:

  1. Based on the time each protocol (like SFTP, FTPS, FTP) is enabled on their server endpoint.
  2. For the amount of data both uploaded and downloaded.

On the other hand, AWS DataSync adopts a more straightforward pricing model. Users are charged solely based on the volume of data copied.

Additional Charges & Fees

AWS Transfer Family has additional charges that users might incur depending on their specific usage patterns. For instance, features like AS2 messages or workflows might come with extra costs.

In contrast, AWS DataSync emphasizes simplicity in its pricing. There are no hidden fees, no resources to manage, no upfront costs, and no minimum charge, ensuring users only pay for the data they transfer.

Upfront and Hidden Costs

While AWS Transfer Family doesn’t explicitly mention upfront or hidden costs, it’s essential to be aware of the various features and their associated charges, ensuring there are no surprises in the billing.

AWS DataSync stands out by explicitly stating its commitment to no upfront or hidden costs. Users can be confident that they won’t encounter unexpected charges, and they won’t need to manage any resources, further simplifying the cost structure.

AWS Transfer Family vs DataSync: Use Cases

Traditional File Transfer Workflows

AWS Transfer Family is specifically designed to cater to businesses that rely on traditional file transfer protocols. Whether it’s migrating existing file transfer workflows to the cloud or setting up a new system, Transfer Family’s support for SFTP, FTPS, and FTP makes it the preferred choice.

On the contrary, while AWS DataSync can handle data transfers, its primary design isn’t centered around replacing traditional file transfer workflows. Instead, it focuses on other use cases, as discussed below.

Winner: AWS Transfer Family

Large-Scale Data Migrations and Backups

AWS DataSync shines when it comes to migrating large datasets between on-premises storage and AWS storage services or even between AWS storage services. Its optimized protocol ensures high-speed data transfers, making large data migrations efficient and timely.

While AWS Transfer Family can handle data transfers to and from Amazon S3, its design and cost structure might not make it the most efficient choice for massive data migrations or frequent, large-scale backups.

Winner: AWS DataSync

Data Sharing and Collaboration

AWS Transfer Family is well-suited for scenarios where businesses need to share data with external partners or customers. Its support for widely-used protocols ensures compatibility and ease of access for various users, making data sharing and collaboration straightforward.

AWS DataSync, on the other hand, is more focused on the movement of data rather than sharing. Its primary use cases revolve around data migration and backup, rather than collaboration.

Winner: AWS Transfer Family


Choosing between AWS Transfer Family and AWS DataSync boils down to specific requirements. If traditional file transfer protocols are a necessity, Transfer Family is the way to go. However, for large-scale data migrations or backups, DataSync offers a more cost-effective and efficient solution. As always, understanding your data transfer patterns and needs will guide you to the right choice.

FAQ: AWS DataSync vs. Transfer Family

1. What is the difference between DataSync and S3 transfer acceleration?

AWS DataSync is a service designed to move large amounts of data online between on-premises storage and AWS services like Amazon S3, EFS, and FSx. It uses its own optimized protocol to accelerate transfers. On the other hand, S3 Transfer Acceleration is a specific feature of Amazon S3 that speeds up transferring files to and from S3 by using Amazon CloudFront’s globally distributed edge locations.

2. What is the difference between DataSync and storage gateway?

AWS DataSync focuses on online data transfers between on-premises storage and AWS services. In contrast, AWS Storage Gateway is a hybrid cloud storage service that connects an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage, providing seamless integration with on-premises IT environments and AWS storage infrastructure. It’s more about integrating and extending on-premises storage into the cloud.

3. What is the advantage of AWS DataSync?

AWS DataSync offers a fast, secure, and simple way to transfer large datasets between on-premises storage and AWS storage services. It automates many of the tasks related to data transfers, such as data validation and monitoring, ensuring efficient and error-free transfers. Its optimized protocol also ensures that data is transferred at high speeds, reducing the time required for data migrations or backups.

4. How does AWS DataSync ensure data integrity?

AWS DataSync uses a combination of checksums and in-transit encryption to ensure that data is transferred securely and without errors. After each transfer, DataSync automatically validates the data to ensure that the source and destination data are identical.

5. Can I use AWS Transfer Family for large-scale data migrations?

While AWS Transfer Family is designed for transferring files using traditional protocols, it’s not optimized for large-scale data migrations. For massive data transfers or migrations, AWS DataSync or AWS Snowball might be more suitable due to their optimized transfer mechanisms and scalability.

6. What is the advantage of AWS DataSync over AWS Transfer Family?

AWS DataSync is specifically designed for high-speed, large-scale data migrations and regular backups to AWS. It uses an optimized protocol to ensure rapid data transfers and offers automation features like data validation post-transfer. This makes it ideal for moving vast amounts of data between on-premises storage and AWS services.

7. What is the advantage of AWS Transfer Family over AWS DataSync?

AWS Transfer Family shines when it comes to supporting traditional file transfer protocols like SFTP, FTPS, and FTP. It’s designed for businesses that need to integrate existing file transfer workflows into the cloud or share data with partners using these familiar protocols. Its primary advantage is providing a seamless transition for organizations relying on traditional file transfer methods.

8. Should I use AWS DataSync or AWS Transfer Family for on-prem to AWS replication?

For large-scale data replication or migrations from on-premises to AWS, AWS DataSync is typically the recommended choice due to its optimized transfer protocol and automation features. However, if the replication involves traditional file transfer workflows using protocols like SFTP, FTPS, or FTP, then AWS Transfer Family might be more suitable. It’s essential to assess the specific requirements and data transfer patterns before making a decision.