For ages, I have been looking for a Managed File Transfer (MFT) system to replace WeTransfer/FTPS for a number of my clients (and for myself). ProjectSend appears to be that solution! WeTransfer is a great service that makes sending large files (in the gigabyte ranges) easy, the trouble is that it effectively counts as a cross-border transfer here in SA, something a number of my clients would prefer to avoid when it comes to POPIA (and other) legislation.

What is ProjectSend?

As they put in on their website, ProjectSend “is a self-hosted application (you can install it easily on your own VPS or shared web hosting account) that lets you upload files and assign them to specific clients that you create yourself! Secure, private and easy. No more depending on external services or e-mail to send those files!”

In short, ProjectSend allows you to send and receive files from clients in a managed and secure manner, using an easy to use web interface with unique logins and management options. You can even brand it yourself. My clients use a variety of different methods for sending and receiving large files, including FTPS (easy to connect to with ‘fiddly’ configuration), SFTP (secure but not the easiest to use), and WeTransfer (secure but involving a crossborder transfer). So what features of ProjectSend cover these needs?

Firstly, the whole system is web-based, so TLS encryption via LetsEncrypt is pretty darn easy. This is followed by login credentials where you can enforce basic (but effective) password complexity, and if needed for self registration, reCAPTCHA. New users are immediately sent login credentials via email, and they can drag and drop files into the browser to upload. Any new files uploaded can then be tagged to a particular recipient, who will in turn receive an email that there are files waiting for them.

Two of the best features for myself and my clients, are the expiry and statistics that ProjectSend offers. On each upload, you can set a file expiry – a date after which the file is no longer available. This is handy for retention periods or for uploads that change quite frequently and become dated. Statistics wise, the administrators can see when someone has sent or been sent files, and can even validate that the files have been downloaded. This is really handy for clearing the old files off once they have been received.

Effectively, ProjectSend covers all our requirements and more.

How have I set this up?

As an illustration of just how few resources this system needs, I have it set up on a Raspberry Pi 3B (+/- R600) with an encrypted external hard drive (+/- R800). It’s fast, reliable, and seems to run very well over my fibre line. This is not necessarily the only way to set it up though, ProjectSend runs on Linux, MySQL/MariaDB (or Microsoft SQL), Apache/nginx and PHP. What that means is you could run this on a desktop computer in your office, a Raspberry Pi, or even a virtual machine hosted in Azure or AWS.

To get started on ProjectSend, head over to their website and check out the documentation. Your IT team (or an external consultant like myself) can set this up for you fairly quickly. I’ll post detailed step-by-step instructions on my configuration next week.

Ross G Saunders Consulting offers a number of solutions that can drive your compliance; from affordable 16 week group coaching programmes to comply on your own, through to advisory retainers and full programme management. To find out more about the offerings available, book time directly with Ross using the calendar below.

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