The cloud may be taking over as the de facto online storage solution, but the need for FTP (file transfer protocol) clients remains a standard need for business. Back in the 90s there were few options for FTP clients─you used one and you were happy. Now, however, when FTP's popularity has waned, plenty of options are available.
But are their solid affordable entries to fill this need?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Let's take a look at some of the best options to see whether one of them could meet your FTP needs.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
FileZilla (Figure A) should, in most cases, be the de facto standard free FTP client for Windows, Linux, and Mac. It's simple to use, supports FTP/SFTP/FTPS, offers a free FTP server solution, has IPv6 support, includes filename filters and directory comparison, logs to a file, has a tabbed interface (so you can have more than one FTP connection open at a time — even transfer files between servers), and much more. This is the cross-platform drag-and-drop FTP client you've been looking for.
FileZilla is available in 47 languages and is in active development. If you're going to be transferring larger files with FileZilla, you can configure transfer speeds so you don't clog up your network and slow other users down.
AndFTP (Figure B) is an Android FTP client that handles FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and SCP. The app contains both a device and FTP browser and provides download, upload, sync, and share features. The only caveat to using AndFTP is that the interface isn't exactly the most efficient UI you will ever use. For example, to upload a file to a specific folder on the remote server, you must navigate to the destination folder, switch to the device browser, locate the file(s), tap to select the file(s), and then tap the upload button. If you don't first navigate to the destination folder, the uploads will wind up on the root directory of the remote server. Other than that little hitch, AndFTP is an outstanding mobile FTP client.
WinSCP (Figure C) is a Windows-only, open source FTP client that supports FTP, WebDAV, and SCP protocols. Once it's installed, you'll enjoy integration with the Windows file manager and jump lists. WinSCP also contains a built-in text editor, which is handy when you're working with remote configuration files and need to do a quick edit without having to download, edit, and upload. You can also protect your stored site information with a master password. If you don't want to install WInSCP on your machine, you can run a portable version of the app from a USB thumb drive for convenience. For more protection, WinSCP supports public key and GSS authentication.
4: sFTP Client
sFTP Client (Figure D) is the only app on the list with a price tag: $2.99 USD. It's also the only app that is a Chrome extension. So if you need to work FTP magic on your Chromebook, this is your best bet. sFTP Client supports all the important FTP features, including SSH keys, synchronized browsing, MS-DOS listing mode, copy URL to clipboard, FTP/SFTP support, account manager, and much more. If you need to try it out first, there's a 30-minute trial that covers all services and features. If you're looking to enable your Chromebook for FTP interaction (or would just like to contain FTP functionality within your Chrome browser), sFTP Client is an outstanding tool for the task.
5: Turbo FTP client & SFTP client
Turbo FTP client & SFTP client (Figure E) is another great Android FTP client. It's fast, ad-free, optimized for tablets, and ready to work with FTP, FTPS, and SFTP protocols. As you create a new connection, you can tag the connection for faster searching. The interface is much easier to navigate than you'll find with a lot of other mobile FTP clients. The only oddity you may run across is that the local/remote panes seem reversed. It took me a moment to realize the remote FTP server was actually the left pane of the interface and the local was on the right. Once you get past that, the UI is simple and efficient.
The best tools
FTP will not be going away anytime soon. If you're still in an environment or position that requires FTP—and you want to use a free (or cheap) client—these outstanding tools are more than capable of getting the job done.
What other FTP clients have you found useful? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
- Pro tip: Manage locations in ASTRO File Manager
- Use Transmit and iCloud to transfer files between multiple Apple devices
- Five file managers to empower your Android smartphone
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.