How to Choose the Best FTP Client

Whether you run a blog or you are a web developer, FTP has become pretty much a necessity these days. So, I will try to help you choose the best FTP client to suit your needs. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may wonder when you will be done with upgrades and new installments. Everyone is telling you that you need a website builder plugin, contact form plugin, gallery plugin, addons, hosting option and who knows what else. Well, you don’t need all of it. WordPress sites and blogs will work anyway. 

file transfer process illustrated with data cubes

But, let me put it this way. Time doesn’t stand still. Actually, it seems like it goes by faster and faster. And whatever business you’re involved in, you don’t want to be left behind. That’s why you need to keep up with the times. In this case, it means updating and upgrading your site regularly. Otherwise, before you know it your site will become outdated, glitchy and uninviting. Of course, you don’t need to install zillions of plugins, but the idea behind all of these additions is to allow you to manage your site better and easier while providing a better experience for your visitors.

Why You Need an FTP Client

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a protocol that allows you to manage files between your computer and your server. It means you can upload, edit, copy, rename, and delete files and folders on your site. It is not absolutely necessary to install an FTP client on your WordPress site. Actually, most servers have an FTP function. But, it is usually not very reliable. 

An FTP client connects your computer directly to your server. This software provides smooth and nice transfer between your computer and your server along with some additional features. An FTP client will also fix most common WordPress errors. So, basically, FTP clients provide easy and reliable file transfers and solve some potential problems in the process.

What to Look For 

What makes the best FTP client? It depends on your needs and desires. However, there are a couple of features that a good FTP client must have. Before I get into it, you should make sure that you choose an FTP client that is compatible with your operating system. Some FTP clients are compatible only with Windows, and others with Mac. There are also many cross-platforms compatible with both Windows and Mac as well as with other operating systems. As a general rule of thumb, cross-platforms probably won’t be the best choice for every operating system that they support. But, don’t take this for granted as we are witnessing improvements with each new version and update.

Basic Features

The first feature that you’re looking for is the most important one. It is protocol support and encryption. The best FTP client should offer support for different transfer file protocols such as FTP, SFTP, and FTPS. Cloud storage solutions such as Google Drive, DropBox, and Amazon S3 aren’t necessary for all users, but it is a nice bonus.

Your FTP client should be reliable and functional. If your connection is sometimes slow, well, FTP can’t fix it, but it will finish the process without breaking down. Transfer of large files can be challenging. However, this is what separates great FTP clients from the rest. Uploading large files should not be a problem. Of course, it depends on your connection how long it will take, but getting it done without problems is what matters.

Desirable Features

A nice and intuitive interface is desirable as well. You can live without it, it is not a necessity, but it is useful. It is always nicer when it’s easy to find your way around and execute whatever you want with ease. Drag-and-drop feature is on the same page. This feature will allow you to drag and drop files between your computer and the server. It works the same way as when you move files from folder to folder on your computer. It can really speed up the process.

Finally, it is desirable to have a lightweight FTP client. Your system resources are precious and you don’t want to use too much space or resources.

If you are a needy customer you may look for some more features such as logging, scheduling, automatic sync and backup, file integrity checks, or more.

Let’s check some of the best offers out there.

Cyberduck

Cyberduck ftp client homepage preview

Cyberduck is an open-source FTP client. It is a cross-platform FTP client, which means that it is compatible with both Windows and Mac. It is also free to download. Cyberduck is a very popular FTP client, especially with Mac users. Truth be told, it resembles Mac products and I believe that its creators are Mac fans. However, it integrates well with Windows computers as well. 

When it comes to features, it supports a wide range of protocols such as SFTP, WebDAV, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure and many more. Virtually, it can connect to almost any server. This is really a stand out feature. A simple and intuitive interface is yet another feature that makes Cyberduck one of the best free options out there. It also integrates smoothly with external text editors. Bookmarking, encryption, and ‘quick look’ feature are among other useful features.

FileZilla

fillezilla homepage preview layout

FileZilla is a very popular free FTP client. It supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS file transfer protocols. Furthermore, it is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It has a drag-and-drop function to move files swiftly. The interface is great and overall it is very easy to use. However, if you need a cloud storage options you would have to upgrade to a Pro version.

In the last couple of years, FileZilla has faced some issues with spyware and adware. On the other hand, it is an open-source project that offers regular updates and upgrades. Online support is excellent as well. If you have any kind of issue you have the best chance to fix it quickly. Of course, we are talking about free options. 

WinSCP

winscp homepage look and layout

WinSCP is a great choice for users that need a simple FTP client as well as for demanding users. It is compatible with Windows only. WinSCP is lightweight, simple and easy to use, yet packed with advanced features. It supports FTP, SFTP, FTPS, SCP WebDAV, and S3 protocols. WinSCP was designed to integrate excellently with Windows functions and apps. Nice and clean interface, ease of use, an extra layer of security, and many more features make it one of the most attractive FTP clients. A built-in text editor is another nice feature that is pretty unique. While live text editing can cause a mess on your site, it is often needed.

It may seem that it has too many options, but it is really easy to use as soon as you get used to it. WinSCP has a great reputation and deserves it. To sum it up, it is a powerful, reliable and functional FTP client.

Transmit

transmit ftp client homepage preview

Transmit is the only FTP client on my list that comes with a price tag. However, it is on the list for a good reason. It is by far the most popular FTP client among Mac users. It has great design, a bunch of advanced features, enhanced security, and more. As for basic functionality, it supports FTP, SFTP, WebDAV and S3 protocols. Cloud storage options include Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive, Microsoft Azure, and more. It can transfer ridiculously large files.

Syncing options, drag and drop function, code editor, are some of the nice features. Seriously, Transmit can do whatever you may find useful when it comes to FTP. And we didn’t get to the best part yet. Transmit is lightning fast.

So, it is no miracle that web developers prefer this FTP client. With Transmit you get power, speed, and advanced functionality.