Building a website requires files and folders. Building a complicated website requires a seemingly endless supply of files and folders. If you’re a developer or designer it becomes incredibly overwhelming. You may forget where a media file was moved to or maybe a theme folder has gone missing or didn’t transfer to the server properly. Regardless of your problems, you need one of the best FTP clients to help you stay organized.
What’s the Point of an FTP Client?
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it allows you to connect your local files on a computer to an online server. For instance, you may be creating a WordPress site. In that case, you could build a website on your computer, then eventually move all of the files to your server and launch your website for the world to see. In short, it gives you the opportunity to organize your files, make edits in a private environment, and also check to see if anything is going wrong.
All FTP clients are different but the important thing to know is that you want a client that works on your Operating System and you’re looking for a user interface that’s easy to move around and sort out the folders.
Today, hosting companies typically have one-click buttons for installing these files on platforms like WordPress. However, an FTP client is still an excellent training and troubleshooting tool for those beginners and advanced developers. It’s also wise to always have a local version of your website saved on a computer.
Features to Look for in the Best FTP Clients
FTP clients are so similar in some ways but sometimes you find a little feature in one of them that makes it significantly more useful for you. That said, these are the features you should be primarily considering:
- You must first figure out whether or not the FTP client will work on your Operating System (like Windows, Mac, or Linux).
- Also, take a look at which versions of your OS are supported. Some FTP clients are much better than others in terms of OS support.
- Seek out beautiful interfaces with drag and drop functionality.
- The best FTP clients have bookmarking and search tools for locating your files, even if you have thousands of them.
- Look for which clients connect to certain types of servers. Some of them are only for transferring from local to online servers. Others connect to third-party storage servers like Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Make sure the client supports the protocols you need it to. Some of them might be FTP, SSL, and SSH.
- Fast file transfer is a must.
- Side-by-side directory comparisons look wonderful.
- Most developers need to ensure that large files are transferable through their FTP client.
- Security should be one of your top priorities when choosing an FTP client.
The Best FTP Clients on the Market Today
- WS_FTP® Professional
- Commander One PRO
- Core FTP LE
- Free FTP
In-Depth Reviews of the Best FTP Clients
Some of the best FTP clients are extremely similar in terms of features and their interfaces. Some are drastically different. We encourage you to start by looking at which of the FTP clients are supported on your Operating System. Then, take our in-depth reviews below into consideration!
1. FileZilla (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
One of the most popular names in the FTP game is Filezilla. Not only is FileZilla free and easy to download, but it doesn’t take long to understand the inner workings of the entire system. Although FileZilla has a bit of an outdated interface, all users are able to link to their site files and place them next to what’s being stored on a computer.
The majority of FileZilla users have Windows machines, but you can also download software for all Operating Systems, including older versions such as Windows 7.
The FileZilla interface offers a main window (where you’ll spend most of your time,) a site manager, and a filename filter area. You can search for certain elements in the files, and configure settings all by switching between tabs located on the main menu. As mentioned, most of the work is done on the main window, where you’ll see a side-by-side display with local site files on the left and the remote site on the right.
With a simple login using your host, username, and password you’re able to add files to a queue for transfer and even drag and drop your files from one side to the other. Status reports are shown in several areas, and it usually provides an error pretty quickly to let you know if you did something wrong.
There have been several reports of downloads containing malware and viruses from the SourceForge website (which offers a FileZilla download). Your best bet is to go directly to the FileZilla website for the safest and most reliable download file.
What Makes FileZilla a Great Option:
- FileZilla is a completely free open source software.
- It has several options for different Operating Systems and various versions. FileZilla is one of the few FTP clients where it really doesn’t matter what type of machine you have.
- The FileZilla community is active and thriving, meaning that updates are common and you can interact with users and developers
- The support documentation is plentiful, with a full section for development help, FAQs, a support page, and a forum.
- The side-by-side display on the main screen allows for easy interpretation of where your files are being moved and what the status is for a transfer.
- The FTP client supports a wide range of protocols such as SFTP, FTPS, and FTP.
- The client is available in many languages for use around the world.
- The remote file search function ensures that you never have to go scanning around to locate them manually.
- You receive remote file editing so that you don’t always have to log in to your host account.
- Bookmarks are provided to save your spot and remember where files are.
- You can transfer large files. Most of the time it supports files larger than 4GB, which is better than some of the competition.
- The directory comparison module becomes even more useful with the help of drag and drop tools.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
FileZilla is one of the best all-around FTP clients on the market. It may take a bit to get used to the interface, but it supports all Operating Systems and many of the older versions. It’s definitely more likely to be used by people with Windows, but the option for Mac and Linux users is there. In addition, we like FileZilla for those who want the side-by-side drag and drop comparison.
2. Cyberduck (Windows and Mac)
Cyberduck doesn’t provide support for Linux, but Mac and Windows users find it rather simple to use and fast for transferring files to and from local and remote locations. Feel free to download the FTP client from the Cyberduck website or you have options for downloads on the Microsoft and Mac App Stores.
This is free, open source software but you can get rid of donation prompts and even receive a registration key if you’d like to donate more than $10 to the developers.
The Cyberduck interface is more modern when compared to other FTP Clients (FileZilla included) and it links your website to external storage locations such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
One of the benefits of Cyberduck is the “cryptomator,” which adds an extra side of encryption during your transfers for added security. Along with that, we enjoy that Cyberduck hooks you up to the cloud while also giving you the opportunity to share files with the help of a quick web URL.
What Makes Cyberduck a Great Option:
- Cyberduck runs as an open source project without any fees.
- You can download the client for both Windows and Mac machines.
- It allows you to connect through multiple protocols such as FTP and SFTP.
- Cyberduck also includes transfer support for some of the most popular third-party cloud storage platforms like Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, and Dropbox.
- The Cryptomator feature makes sure that all of your files and transfers are encrypted and secure, adding an extra layer by encrypting every file individually. There are also no backdoors since you don’t have to register or create any type of account.
- You’re able to use an external file editor to make changes to all of your documents.
- Sharing files is easy with the help of a URL generator.
- The bookmarking tool has features for logging history, imports, files, and more.
- You can browse with ease by utilizing the quick look feature or checking out the general outline provided for large folder structures.
- Anything can be transferred through Cyberduck. This is done with the help of a drag and drop module. You can also synchronize and copy and paste.
- Cyberduck comes with several integrations such as the Keychain password protector and the Bonjour auto-discovery platform.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
You can’t use Cyberduck if you’re on Linux. However, Windows and Mac users rather appreciate the modern, clean interface that Cyberduck has to offer.
In addition, it’s great for those users who want to sync with alternative, third-party cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox. Really, if you’re more interested in linking to cloud storage, this is the right FTP client for you (and my personal preference).
3. ForkLift (Mac)
ForkLift is a Mac-only file manager and transfer client with dual panes for comparing multiple file locations and moving them back and forth. Remote connections are available for things like Amazon S3 and Google Drive. Not to mention, you have the ability to connect to multiple servers at the same time, giving you more versatility if you have more than one transfer to complete.
ForkLift does have a free trial but the core software requires a payment of $29.95 for a single license. The family license can be used on three computers for $49.95, while the small business license goes on up to five Macs, all for the price of $99.95. ForkLift also offers education discounts for teachers and students.
The main file manager links your remote servers to the local environment, using a drag and drop system with nice visuals so you can see which files are being managed. In addition, the side-by-side comparison lets you see everything in one window and move them from file to file. It’s a fresh interface that should go along with the sleekness that Mac users are accustomed to.
What Makes ForkList a Great Option:
- Although ForkLift isn’t free, it has some reasonable lifetime prices and discounts for students and teachers.
- The dual-pane interface splits the locations of your files in two separate windows, giving you the tools to drag files from one area to another.
- You can sync all of your favorites between computers with the use of Dropbox.
- ForkLift lets you copy Dropbox files with a right-click and instantly drop them into the ForkLift files.
- Various remote connections are available, including WebDAV, Amazon S3, and Google Drive.
- ForkLift supports transfers with SFTP and FTP.
- The transfer module includes a preview panel for inspecting important details from all files. For instance, you might want to play an audio file or view an image.
- The multi-rename tool lets you select a bulk group of files and rename them all at the same time.
- You can change your interface to a “dark mode” so as not to strain your eyes while working.
- ForkLift has options for setting your preferred editor. This means that all file edits are done outside of ForkLift but then synced with the software.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
ForkLift only works for Mac users, so Windows and Linux folks should look at some of the other FTP clients. As for choosing ForkLift based on features, consider it if you’d like access to many remote connections, some of which include Google Drive, SMB, and NFS. This is also a premium software, so if you don’t want to pay for an FTP client then you need to look for something else.
4. Transmit (Mac)
If you’re a Mac user who’s looking for something different than ForkLift, Transmit has some unique features that make it stand out on its own. On the surface, Transmit provides a wonderful interface for managing your files and linking them to several servers at one time. You can upload, manage, and download all from one place, while also connecting to favorites like Box, Google Drive, and Backblaze.
As with many of the Mac FTP clients, Transmit has a free trial to test. However, the main software sells for a price of $45. This is only for one license, but you receive discounts the more licenses you purchase. For instance, 10 copies of Transmit cost $43 per copy. It’s not a huge discount, but decent for companies that need the extra copies.
One of the main selling points of Transmit is that it boasts a significant speed boost compared to other FTP clients. It also offers a side-by-side module, visuals of your files, and excellent shortcuts for finding your files in no time. Overall, the Transmit FTP client seems to excel with its cloud support and file searching tools.
What Makes Transmit a Great Option:
- Transmit doesn’t have a free version, but the prices are reasonable, and you get discounts for the more licenses you buy.
- It offers a stunning interface that coincides with what most Mac users are accustomed to.
- It handles the basics like FTP, WebDAV, and SFTP. Yet, you also gain server integrations with services like Rackspace, Dropbox, and Backblaze.
- Transmit has a drag and drop system for uploading and syncing files in seconds.
- You can manage files on multiple servers at one time.
- Transmit has a “Panic Sync” tool that securely locks your data in a separate location, just in case something goes wrong with your remote server or computer.
- It’s one of the fastest clients on the market, with smart searching in complex folders and speedy multithreading.
- View file information in the sidebar.
- Batch edit many of your files by selecting the ones you want to edit and choosing the text you would like to change them to.
- You can select the name of one file with a “key,” and get taken directly to that location.
- Transmit supports extra large Amazon S3 file transfers.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
You should only consider Transmit if you’re a Mac user. Outside of that, we recommend comparing Transmit and Forklift to see which one has the remote servers you need. Other than that, Transmit is for those who want a clean interface with fast upload and transfer speeds. The shortcuts are also great for improving your workflow.
5. WinSCP (Windows)
WinSCP, as you may assume from the name, only works on Windows computers. It’s a free file manager and FTP client that connects your remote and local environments. The open source project has over 124 million downloads as of this article and its popularity only seems to be increasing. The user interface looks somewhat similar to FileZilla, with a dual-pane module for transferring files.
You can also customize your main page with multiple tabs, varying commands, and sessions. Multiple sessions are possible on the same screen, allowing you to complete more work at one time.
The feature-base for WinSCP looks plentiful and easy to use. In addition, you can find all sorts of information about the product on the WinSCP website. Some of the resources include in-depth documentation, a user forum, and options for getting customer support.
What Makes WinSCP a Great Option:
- WinSCP is a free FTP client.
- The documentation and support tools are better than some of the competition.
- The client allows for transfers using WebDAV, S3, SFTP, SCP, FTPS, and FTP.
- The graphical user interface makes your work more visual and easy to understand.
- You’re able to integrate the text editor of your choice.
- Tasks and scripts can be automated by making rules.
- The client translates into several languages for support in many countries.
- All files are encrypted when sent through WinSCP.
- You can set administrative restrictions if you plan on using the client for your company or if you don’t want some people gaining access to some files or functions.
- You can change the user interface to meet whatever demands you require.
- WinSCP is always connected to your current workspaces. WinSCP restores an entire workspace if you lose something.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
WinSCP isn’t an option for Mac or Linux users. It makes sense for those who want a strictly Windows-based FTP client. We like it mostly for the simplicity of the interface. If you only want the basic necessities, WinSCP looks like a good option for you.
6. WS_FTP® Professional
WS_FTP Professional has over 40 million users. One of the reasons for this is because WS_FTP provides extreme levels of encryption, easy customization, and advanced admin tools. Starting with the security, WS_FTP protects all files at all points of the transfer process. This includes prior to and after the file transfers. Multiple forms of encryption are used to make sure that all of your files are protected inside WS FTP.
This type of security makes WS_FTP a premium FTP client. Therefore, you’ll have to pay the $49.95 per license for a single user. You can take advantage of community and email support if you upgrade to the professional option, starting at $89.95.
Besides the encryption, WS_FTP has some other ways to keep your files safe from harm. First of all, every file is backed up based on a schedule. You can also compress some of these backups to store them on other machines or USB drives. The syncing is also done automatically, so you can send those files to remote servers and not worry about them getting lost elsewhere.
What Makes WS_FTP a Great Option:
- WS FTP is a premium FTP client for Windows with solid prices.
- The main benefit is the superior security. This includes file encryption, signature keys, backups, FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography, and more.
- All transfers are guaranteed to get to the right folders.
- You can synchronize your files with a wide range of servers and devices.
- Compress your files directly from the WS_FTP window.
- You can set email notifications that send out to you, or other stakeholders in your organization when a transfer has occurred.
- You can get premium customer support, not just a community forum or an email to a developer who may take a while to reply.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
Security is the name of the game for WS FTP. The FIPS 140-2 Validated Cryptography and the integrated file encryption come together for the ultimate protection for all important files. Pair this with the backups and syncs and you should have no problems keeping your files on lockdown. Because of that, we like WS FTP the most for Windows users who want the best security.
7. Commander One PRO (Mac)
Commander One does have a free version that you are more than welcome to download. However, we’re focusing more on the premium Commander One PRO FTP client for a few reasons. First of all, the feature-set is far superior when you upgrade to the Pro version. Secondly, the personal license for Pro is only $29.99. After that, you could get the team version for $99.99 (five licenses,) or the company plan (50 licenses) for $149.99.
Commander One PRO supports transfers with FTP, SFTP, and FTPS. It’s a reliable and fairly fast client for quickly transferring, uploading, and moving items from server to server. Multiple connections are possible, and the tabbed browsing is sure to make your workflow more efficient.
The developers also have a new release called Commander One PRO 2. This introduces many cloud syncing opportunities such as Backblaze B2, Box Cloud, and Amazon S3. All of these servers are linked with the help of a beautiful connection manager. Therefore, you always have access to your connections in one place–even if you have five or ten connections going at the same time.
What Makes Commander One PRO a Great Option:
- Commander One has a free version for light work. It also provides an extremely affordable premium version filled with unique features.
- Commander One PRO has support for numerous languages such as Polish, Spanish, and French.
- You can choose from a wide range of color themes.
- The client helps with compressing your files. Some of the compression versions include ZIP, RAR, and TGZ files.
- It allows you to mount to an Android device for file management on your smartphone or tablet.
- Mounting is also possible with all iOS devices.
- Commander One PRO provides a file viewer to see which media items are actually in your files. This can also be helpful for analyzing metadata.
- You can assign hotkeys to improve your workflow and speed up the process of finding certain files.
- The encryption service protects your files during all transfers. This is done between local, cloud, and remote servers.
- The FTP client has a large list of connections to take advantage of, including Amazon S3, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
Windows and Linux users can skip Commander One PRO altogether. If you’re a Mac user with a need for multiple connections and a highly customizable interface, Commander One PRO might just be for you. It also has great support for compression files.
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8. Core FTP LE (Windows)
Core FTP LE wasn’t always free but now you have the option to either pay for the Pro version or the LE version. In our opinion, Core FTP LE should work just fine for the majority of users, with its basic interface, dual-panel layout, and striking similarity to that of FileZilla. The main difference is that Core FTP LE only dedicates its development to the Windows software, so you may find it more focused on that type of experience.
Having said that, the file manager provides modules for transfers and dragging and dropping, along with a status section to understand if and when your file will go from a local site to a remote one. The majority of your tasks are performed on the same window, allowing you to search for files in a long hierarchy and bookmark the items most important to you.
As mentioned, the main features you need from Core FTP LE are free. However, you can upgrade to the Pro version for $24.95. As for the website, you can find many support resources for your own research or to speak with other community members.
For example, you do have the option to send an email to the developer, or you could post that same question in the forums and hear from other users. Some other tabs on the website include an FAQ, feature list, and documentation.
What Makes Core FTP LE a Great Option:
- It’s similar to FileZilla, with a few unique features you can’t find there.
- The Core FTP LE main client is completely free and ready for you to download.
- There is a Pro version if you’d like some tools like file syncing, encryption, and custom screen setups.
- The free version provides support for secure FTPS, TLS, SSL, and SFTP.
- The mode Z compression improves your transfer rates and helps with speeding up your work process.
- You can drag and drop all file elements to other folders.
- Core FTP LE offers a unique feature that auto-retries all transfers in the case of a failure.
- File masking and file permissions are possible from the admin level.
- You can create your own desktop shortcuts.
- Core FTP LE allows for the transferring of multiple files to multiple sites at one time.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
You can only use Core FTP LE with a Windows machine. We feel like Core FTP LE is a great alternative to FileZilla. Maybe you don’t like some of the shortcuts or the overall interface on FileZilla. In that case, try this one out to see if it provides any relief. The transfers are fast and secure, so you should be able to find a solution between the two of them.
9. CuteFTP (Windows)
CuteFTP is owned by a company called Globalscape. It’s only available for use on Windows platforms, and it requires a $59.99 per year payment. Most years the developers come out with a new version. In that case, you can upgrade for a fee of $29.99. CuteFTP also has one year of maintenance and support for an additional $30.
The basis behind CuteFTP is to provide an FTP client with an easy-to-use interface, plenty of automation, and industry-leading security. The security is definitely covered, with the use of things like password authentication, powerful encryption, and a password manager.
What’s great about a premium FTP file manager is that you receive an onslaught of online resources and actual, human customer support. Globalscape provides a full support knowledgebase, an online help file, and user guide.
You’re able to contact the customer support team via phone or a chatbox. In short, sometimes an FTP transfer causes big problems for your organization. That’s when it’s nice to speak with a real person. That’s when paying a small fee for an FTP client pays off.
What Makes CuteFTP a Great Option:
- The company offers a beautiful FTP client with full phone and email support. This is provided to you for a very low price.
- You can safely backup and sync your site files from the main window.
- CuteFTP has a password manager for logging all of the passwords you decide to make.
- Send transfers with FTP/S, HTTP/S, and SFTP.
- There’s a password authentication protocol to provide even more security to the system.
- Your transfers can be completed manually or set to run on an automated schedule.
- All transfers are monitored, letting you know when something looks strange.
- You can manage audio files through CuteFTP and even create podcast RSS feeds (here’s how to start a podcast using WordPress).
- The drag and drop interface lets you move files back and forth between folders and servers.
- CuteFTP has options for creating scripts that let you save time in the future.
- Connect to all of your sites with the help of a step-by-step wizard inside of the software.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
If you use a Windows computer, CuteFTP might be for you. It’s one of the few premium Windows FTP clients, so you gain access to incredible customer support and some unusual features you can’t find in FileZilla or other open source projects. So, we enjoy the CuteFTP client if you’d like superior automation, security, and customer support on a Windows machine.
10. Free FTP (Windows)
Free FTP has both free and paid versions for you to test out and potentially upgrade if that’s what you need in terms of features. The premium version is listed at $39 and it does have a free trial if you’d rather give it a try instead of sticking to the free version. As of right now, Free FTP is supported on Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista.
The premium software is actually called Direct FTP, but it’s made by the same developers and simply improves on what is provided in the free alternative.
Starting off with those premium features, if you’d like to pay for Direct FTP, you gain access to standard file transfer and editing tools. It takes the interface a step further by providing a complete web design toolset for quick edits and organization of files. Everything can be edited right on your server, and all uploads are reliable and fast to ensure the highest performance. Overall, the premium version (Direct FTP) adds little bits and pieces such as more secure file transfer, customizable syntax highlighting, and file permissions for folders.
Many people won’t even consider paying for an FTP, so let’s move onto the actual Free FTP software. This particular tool specializes in super simple and fast uploads to your servers. Dragging and dropping is provided, along with several other tools that are great for beginners and advanced users alike. The status of all file transfers is ordered in a beautiful list to see exactly what has been transferred and what is in the process of uploading.
Bookmarks are simple and intuitive, and the file management all happens inside the program for tasks like adding, launching, and moving files. The backup tools are also nice so that you can save a ZIP folder of your website files with the click of a button.
What Makes Free FTP a Great Option:
- Free FTP has both a free and paid version.
- Secure file transfers are available through SFTP, SSH, FTPS, HTTP, and TLS.
- File permissions are available for protecting your work and ensuring that the right users can see and manipulate what they need to.
- Free FTP includes a simple drag and drop editor with a side-by-side comparison to see all of the folders in your remote and local servers.
- The quick archival features ensure that you’re able to back up all files and folders without having to worry about losing anything.
- The full version provides a code completion solution where items like HTML tags and attributes are suggested and completed for you, minimizing some of the stress on your fingers.
- All browsing and transfer actions are logged in a history module. This means that you can always go back in time to locate a file if you forget where you put it.
- A status bar is shown on the bottom of the FTP client so that you know when files are being transferred or if an error has occurred.
- Free FTP actually provides support for a few more variations of FTP than other competitors. For instance, you gain support for TSL, HTTPS, SFTP, SSH, and FTPS.
- The interface is simple and effective for all users, especially considering how easy it is to tag bookmarks and watch the progress of your files in the main window.
Is This FTP Client Right for You?
Free FTP should work well for those who want a clean, simple workspace. You get the basics without any of the extras that usually aren’t needed for the average user. In addition, you can get code completion features and support for HTTPS and TSL if you have no problem paying for the premium version.
Which of the Best FTP Clients Should You Go For?
Hopefully, our recommendations allow you to cut down your FTP clients list and make a selection. If you need a little more help, here are some final suggestions:
- FileZilla – Consider this FTP client if you want a free solution that supports all Operating Systems. We also consider it the best all-around solution.
- Cyberduck – We like this one for Windows and Mac users that want to sync with storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
- ForkLift – This FTP client is for Mac users who desire remote connections like SMB and Google Drive.
- Transmit – Here’s one that’s great for Mac users and fast upload speeds.
- WinSCP – Consider this if you have a Windows machine and if you’d crave the utmost simplicity.
- WS_FTP® Professional – Only for Windows users who want the best possible security in an FTP client.
- Commander One PRO – Think about this client if you’re a Mac user looking for multiple connections.
- Core FTP LE – This one is only for Windows machines. It’s a nice alternative to FileZilla, so test them both out to see which one you like more.
- CuteFTP – Try out CuteFTP if you want the best customer support out of all of these FTP clients. Also, know that you must pay for it and you need a Windows machine.
- Free FTP – We like Free FTP if you utilize windows and if you want simplicity and potential support for TSL and HTTPS.
And that’s all we have for the best FTP clients! If you have any further questions or would like to let us know about your favorite clients, write a comment in the section below.
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