Windows

WS_FTP and Vista


I have always really, really liked the WS_FTP product from IpSwitch. I must admit, however, that I never actually paid for it until last year. August of 2006, to be exact. In August, I purchased a full license to WS_FTP 2007 Professional. Unfortunately, it only came with three months of support, it seems like. This is not a problem, in my mind. Why would I need basic support on a product that has always been a gem?

Well, because IpSwitch refuses to provide me with a patch or update to WS_FTP that will allow it to be Vista compatible.

I have been running Vista final release for a few months now. Out of the programs that I use, WS_FTP is the only one that does not work (unless you count Vista’s Backup system’s inability to backup to a Samba share on a FreeBSD machine). Sure, a few other programs threw off errors or warnings that were not actually a problem. But WS_FTP will not even run, it throws off an error, that appears to be a problem with its licensing system. IpSwitch has a Vista compatible version, but it is not available as a patch or an upgrade, only as an item provide by their Technical Support organization, who will not support me because my service contract ran out.

I can understand the lack of technical support for people with no contract. But to not even post a patch? To continue selling software that is not Vista compatible, without marking it as such on your Web site? That is a tough pill to swallow.

IpSwitch, I have a few questions for you:

·         Why does your Web site not make it plainly obvious that WS_FTP is not Vista compatible?

·         Why will you not provide a patch or upgrade to customers who have already paid for their software and can no longer use it?

·         Why does your service contract cost so much money that if I were to extend my contract to get the Vista patch, it would be cheaper to buy a competitor’s product?

In short, why are you acting like Symantec?!

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

38 comments
apotheon
apotheon

My favorite FTP client, other than the standard SFTP client that's part of the OpenSSH suite (and isn't technically FTP), is [url=http://yafc.sourceforge.net/][b]yafc[/b][/url]. Of course, it doesn't work on MS Windows, and has no GUI front end -- it's just what I want. It has more actually useful features than any other FTP client I've used, or at least more that I can find (I've seen a couple clients that are so laden in cruft that it probably has three times the features, but I can't find most of them because of the hefty, cluttered design). It's also incredibly fast, thanks in part to the fact that it's a lightweight CLI tool. . . . but I hardly ever use it (even though it supports SFTP as well as FTP), since I like the SFTP client interface with the OpenSSH distribution more. I mostly only use yafc when I need to do huge bulk transfers. yafc = Yet Another Ftp Client

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Do you think that computer manufacturers want this proliferation of non compatible software?Where's Simon when you need him--

Justin James
Justin James

Ahh, Simon... dear Simon... and the PFY... 3 phase main power to the patch panel... mmm. J.Ja

ElCuervo
ElCuervo

and it has been my favorite for a long time, so much that I continue to pay for it every year. I will never use Vista so I can't say how well that works, but I would certainly try it first if I did. For the record, I have tried FileZilla, WS_FTP, and many others, and this is the one for me, especially when it comes to breaking in newbies to FTP. http://www.smartftp.com/download/

Justin James
Justin James

... and if I like it, I will gladly pay for it! J.Ja

TR_Reader
TR_Reader

I initially had an issue after loading Vista but went to their site, d/l a patch and it's been working fine so far (other than the cute little sounds it makes doesn't work and they said some things "might not be available until a later time"). Hope you can work it out, I love this program and use it like crazy.

prendergasta
prendergasta

Have you tried running the app in XP compatibility mode under Vista? Google it ...

Justin James
Justin James

It just won't work. IpSwitch is not seeing another cent from me. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

... Cute FTP has Vista bugs too: http://forums.globalscape.com/tm.aspx?m=13580 J.Ja

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

Changed for about 10 minutes and you suddenly aged about 10 years. I think your current pic was taken a long, long time ago!

Justin James
Justin James

... they use a different picture of me in the newsletters than I have in the forums. Both were taken within a few months of each other, and the older one) was taken less than a year ago. I look a lot older when I shave my head, but shaving my face sort of offsets that... sadly, I am still barely under thirty, but a lot of people think I am near 40... J.Ja

apotheon
apotheon

I used the free version of WS_FTP back in the late '90s. I thought it was the bee's knees (does anyone way that any longer?). I decided to give the pro version a try, and downloaded the trial version, with the idea of eventually buying it. What I discovered is that the interface of the pro version of WS_FTP was needlessly complex and, in general, a severe pain in the butt to use. While the free version was the best GUI FTP client I'd ever used, the pro version came in at about eighth place in a list of nine. It was awful. I suppose I needn't mention that I saved the money for something else. Of course, with the broad selection of extremely rich, powerful FTP (and even more importantly, SFTP) clients available on free unices, I don't bother with anything like WS_FTP any longer. In fact, the only real use I've ever had for FTP was in website management -- and luckily I learned my lesson before I had to pay for it: don't use FTP outside of your local network, unless you [b]like[/b] broadcasting your username and password without encryption every time you connect to a remote server. On the very rare opportunity that I've found myself in a position to recommend a GUI FTP client to someone on a Windows system, since that day in the late '90s, though -- well, let's just say I've never recommended anyone spend any money on that piece of crap software that Ipswitch calls WS_FTP's "pro" version. I guess "pro" in this case must be short for "profoundly bad".

Justin James
Justin James

... using it to manage Web sites on the local network is *exactly* what I was using it for. :) Web sites on my *NIX server. Because setting up Samba shares to the server, then popping over to mv and chown and chgrp and chmod everything to the right directories and such is a huge pain in the butt. I actually have always liked WS_FTP, for whatever reason, a lot of people I know hate it. Maybe that is because I've used it for so unbeleivably long and I am just used to it. J.Ja

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

It must provide enough of an income flow for Ipswitch to keep it alive this long. Many other low priced and free options available built using lessons learned from features they hate with jurassic products like WS_FTP.

Justin James
Justin James

Large companies tend to buy software they can get a support contract with. Look at RHEL & SuSE, vs. Linux's without supporrt contracts. People pay more for 3 years of RHEL support than they do for a Windows license which is perpetual, even though they could use CentOS for free. Likewise, when something goes disastrously wrong, companies want a vendor to yell at, even if it costs them $50 per seat, for a trivial piece of software like an FTP client. J.Ja

DanLM
DanLM

And still use it on rare occasion, but I have found that I use WinSCP for most transfers anymore(even on my local home LAN) because it is ssh. I know that the pro version of ws_ftp does this also, but I found that out after I started using WinsSCP. I also set up samba to make life really easy for myself at home to, but there still are times I need to use WinSCP. Try that J, it's free. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

I gave up on passwords 2 years ago on my home machine. I ssh into that box from work all the time. I completely turned off all password authentification and only allow key authentification on that box. I need to get into that box from where ever I am.... Got all my chit mon. Lol. And the good thing is... Yes, wait for it. I don't have to remember my password... Just my userid to log in with. Screw the ssh brute force children. Let them try and use a password all they want, isn't going to let them do crap. Grrrr, never mind... I was getting ready to rant but nobody wants to hear it. Lol, even me. Dan

Justin James
Justin James

I just installed it, it ran for me with no problems, but chmod did not work... J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

I agree 100% about the SSH techniques, that is what I do as well. I am considering taking the plung and not even allowing SSH from outside the network, so I would need to VPN in first. But using secured FTP inside my network is a bit overkill. I have no wireless connectivity, so if something is scanning inside my network, it is something plugged into the switch on my desk. And the only items on my network is a TK-63T running IPCop, a FreeBSD 6.2 server, and a FreeBSD 5.3 server with no outside access (it is on for failover purposes for the next week, and then it is getting turned off for good), and my Vista desktop which only I use. My desktop usage is so paranoid, I have never gotten a virus except for a Word macro in 1999, and one that I knew was a virus before I infected myself (long story) a few years back. In other words, I am positive that nothing is scanning internal FTP traffic. Any external FTP traffic is with accounts that are jailed to their home directories and have no execute or shell priviledges, or even email accounts. At worst, they can hit their file quota. :) J.Ja

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Anybody know if FireZilla will run under Vista? It will be a while before we install Vista on user desktops, but I have several who prefer FZ, for whatever reason.

DanLM
DanLM

You can download WinsSCP as a stand alone exec that does not even need to be installed. I carry it on my thumb drive with putty. This would require no administrative rights or what ever Vista is bitchen and moaning about. Dan

apotheon
apotheon

On the rare occasion I need to use an FTP-like tool on a Windows machine for file transfers, I too will use WinSCP. Not only is it more secure (thanks to the SSH encryption, including during username and password exchange) than FTP, but anything using the SSH protocol undergoes compression before transfer. With small data quantities, the compression and decompression overhead is minimal enough that there's no noticeable slowdown as compared with straight FTP, and with larger quantities the compression actually improves performance because bandwidth is usually the bottleneck on shuffling large quantities of data across a network. On the very rare occasion that I really need small data quantity performance, to the point where speed is more important than integrity checking and encryption, the HTTP protocol is much faster than either FTP or SSH/SFTP. Even within my own LAN(s), I am security-conscious (aka "paranoid") enough that I prefer SFTP over FTP for its security characteristics. In a corporate environment, with the growing prevalence of internal security failures in the business world, the last thing I'd want to do is send an administrative password across the network in clear text. Of course, I have layer upon layer of precautions in place, in my usual way of doing things, to prevent that sort of problem. For instance, I never even allow servers to accept direct root access via SSH. Instead, I create an administrative account with fewer privileges even than normal user accounts, but with one big privilege that nobody else has on that machine -- the ability to use su to become root -- and allow that account to log in remotely instead. Thus, I can SSH in as the limited "administrator" account, and use su to become root once I'm there. . . . and so on. The way this all ties in to the discussion of WS_FTP, of course, is in the fact that I'd much rather use WinSCP, even when working entirely within the LAN/intranet. Security's just too important.

TINS
TINS

By not paying for the product until last year. Paying for WS_FTP was doing the wrong thing, as its one of the worst FTP clients out there. Its terrible interface slows down productivity and really, I disown you for paying for WS_FTP, especially expecting everything to work with Windows Vista of all new OS's. Haven't you learned anything when WinXP SP2 was released?

Justin James
Justin James

... while I agree that its interface is pretty bad, I've used it for so long that it doesn't bother me. i did not have any problems when I went to XP SP2, but I also know that I am a rarity in that regard. What do you suggest I replace it with? J.Ja

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

Crappy name, really good inexpensive product - a split pane replacement for Windows Explorer with built in ftp, sfpt, file viewer that handles images, mp3s, executables, pdfs word, excel... www.aptap.cz Tons of tools - batch rename using regular expressions is one of my favorites. During my short lived trial of Vista it appeared to work fine.

Justin James
Justin James

I think that software vendors should not charge exisitng customers for Vista compatability, unless it requires a full version upgrade. Particularly for products purchased near the release of Vista. What do you think? J.Ja

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

We use w2k, and WS_FTP, when installed, makes some very basic programs such as windows explorer VERY unstable. Simply expanding a directory tree causes it to crash. The program crashes, AND rearranges windows that are minimized at the bottom of the screen, in random order. Very bizarre. Our IT guys traced this back to some DLL or something that WS_FTP installs. After uninstalling it, the computers become stable again. So where I can I've switched to alternatives. Filezilla, etc.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

on how integrated into the OS it is. If it requires a few minor tweaks or an all out rebuilding. Also, depends on funding of the company as well, some smaller companies would stress financially to update to another OS and offer for free. I agree that many SW upgrades should be patches, but many should be new SW packages as well.

stress junkie
stress junkie

If you purchased a product to run on XP or on W2K3 or another Microsoft operating system then that is what you purchased. You didn't purchase the product for Vista. That is a different platform requiring a different product and a new license. Maybe I can accept this concept because I have worked with other enterprise operating systems over two decades. The enterprise computing environment typically has licensing conditions that seem draconian compared to what we are used to seeing in Microsoft operating systems. The idea that a product that you purchased for one machine running a particular operating system should migrate to a different machine or operating system is not all that common in the history of computer software. I think that we are seeing Microsoft allowing software producers to adopt a model of software licensing that has been very common for a long time in enterprise computer environments. Or to put it another way; when you purchased a given product for the operating system that you were using at the time that product worked on that operating system. That is as far as the software developer is required to go. There is no reason to think that the developer will give away software patches to make the product work on new operating systems. It makes sense that you would have to pay for that.

DonSMau
DonSMau

I appreciate your stand but, as a consumer of 3rd party sware, I'm buying a program to get a job done. I don't think I should pay extra to get the same functionality under a new OS. And it should continue to function under an upgraded OS. Theres not much incentive for me to fork out the dough if I'm going to be helf hostage to an OS's upgrade cycle _as well as_ a 3rd party's. PS. Why anyone would not use FileZilla is beyond me.

josir
josir

Hi folks, I was a die-hard user of WS-FTP but now I only use Filezilla. It's much more user friendly than WS-FTP and it's completely free! And probably compatible with Vista. Josir

Justin James
Justin James

It is indeed Vista compatable, but basic functionality (chmod) did not work. FileZilla is a non-starter for me without *working* chmod. J.Ja

pmcgrath
pmcgrath

I gave up on Ipswitch along time ago. My impression was they stared thinking they were better than they were. Face it, a GUI FTP client is not a complex application, and not worth the price Ipswitch has put on it, especially with Open Source apps like Filezilla. Does Filezilla work on Vista? I don't know, have't tried it yet. But I'm sure the Filezilla team will have an update in the near future if it doesn't. Ipswitch can go away. I replaced there whats up product with ServerAlive and never looked backed. Saved a bunch of money too.

arnie
arnie

I just added the executable for ws_ftp to the firewall exception list and it runs fine on Vista

Justin James
Justin James

It never got to a splashscreen, it would not get far enough to try going through the firewall, the process bombed that quick. Firewall neverr popped up a warning or request to unblock. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

You are right, what I am seeing is a license very similar to enterprise software agreements, and you are right that these types of agreements are slowly filtering down to the consumer class too. IpSwitch is a very enterprise oriented company, their consumer products do feel like they arre just "there" with little thought, like IBM's consumer products. You also have an interesting point about it working with a new version of the OS. The bigger concern is, "why was WS_FTP written in a way that Vista's new security systems throw off a million alarms about it and will not even let it boot?" Makes me wonder what was really happening under the hood. That's another Symantec-like behavior, system domination... J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

... and its chmod does not seem to work. Bleh. I like it, it does what I need it to, but SSH'ing in just to do chmod is not where I like to be in life, especially for servers that do not offer shell access. I may have to give Staff FTP another try. It was OK, except for the part where it would hang transfers, or not register that a transfer was successful and keep d/ling or u/ling it over and over and over again... J.Ja

icetnet
icetnet

I have used almost every product from Ipswitch. While they work decently, there are usually free products available that work better. FTP, in this case, is much more fun using FileZilla, a free sourceforge product here. http://sourceforge.net/projects/filezilla and it covers every style of FTP you'll need.