In a previous tutorial, we talked about some of the fundamentals of FTP and why it's important to know for your business—how FTP works, what you need to know about it, and so on. But what I wanted to do here was provide you with some recommendations for FTP applications that you may want to consider using. There's certainly no shortage of free and commercial-grade FTP applications available. If you're running a small business website, a free FTP application will be just fine. If you have more advanced needs, and want to ensure security and reliability, then going with a paid option is your best bet.
If you're not familiar with FTP, or you're kinda fuzzy on what it is and how you can use it in your business, be sure to take a look at that previous tutorial.
Below, I've listed out some of the most popular FTP applications available for Windows users, in no particular order. I've provided a brief description of each, links to where you can find them, and whether they're free or paid. Each FTP application has it's own unique interface and feel, as well as different options and features. At the end of the day, they all basically do the same thing—move files to and from our web server—so I encourage you to try a few out and see which one fits best for you and your business.
Alright, we'll start things off with my preferred FTP application of choice...
FireFTP is an extension that runs inside the Firefox web browser. I've been using FireFTP for longer than I can remember. What I like so much is that it's browser-based, so I can run all of my FTP tasks inside one browser tab, while I'm off doing something else in another browser tab. And because I'm already running my web browser, there's no need for me to launch and have to switch between an extra piece of software running on my computer.
FireFTP has an intuitive, easy to use interface and includes handy features like synchronization, directory comparison, and automatic reconnection should there be an interruption. And, it's free!
But the best thing about FireFTP is that the developer behind FireFTP takes 100% any proceeds and donations, and puts it all towards helping people with disabilities. So if you like FireFTP, please consider supporting the project.
CyberDuck is a very popular FTP application that's been around for a long time. It's easy to use, intuitive interface integrates nicely with your operating system, and works great for new and experienced users alike. Cyberduck has a few unique characteristics. First, unlike traditional FTP applications, which use a left and right window pane interface, Cyberduck uses just a single window pane. So the interface looks similar to a folder window.
Next, Cyberduck has a very handy bookmarking feature. Bookmarks behave in a similar manner to traditional bookmarks in your web browser, allowing you to quickly connect to your various web servers and online accounts. Which brings us to the third unique feature I wanted to mention: If you're using various types of online accounts and cloud-based storage, you can connect to them, and manage them, using Cyberduck. Supported services include DropBox, Amazon S3, and Google Drive.
Best of all, Cyberduck is free. If the above features sound interesting, give Cyberduck a try!
Free FTP is, as the name implies, a free FTP application by CoffeeCup. FreeFTP is a popular choice because of it's simple, intuitive interface and some of the additional features it comes with. Some of these features include a bookmarking option, support for FTP, SFTP, and FTPS connection types, and it's built-in history.
Free FTP also boasts fast file transfers and the ability to easily set file permissions. While free, there's also a paid version called Direct FTP which includes some extra business-grade features, like being able to edit files directly on your live website, and some additional security features.
If this sounds like it might be a good fit, then give Free FTP a closer look!
If you're looking for a commercial-grade FTP application that comes with business-oriented users in mind, then WS_FTP might be just what you're after. Like other FTP applications, WS_FTP handles common tasks like file transfers, drag and drop functionality, bookmarks, and so on.
What sets WS_FTP apart is it's added security, authentication, and file encryption. It also includes administrator features like scheduled transfers, synchronization, email notifications, and connected folders. WS_FTP has a 30-day free trial, and licensing starts at $49.95.
If you're serious about your business website, and the above features sound right, give WS_FTP a try!
Like I said way back at the beginning, there's no shortage of FTP applications! It really depends on your needs, preferences, and what you're after. It all boils down to personal preference, so you really can't go wrong here. I've tried to cover the gamut above, going from browser-based FTP applications, to free options, to a commercial-grade application. And wouldn'tcha know it, we have a few more choices! Here are some honourable mentions that you might want to check out: SmartFTP, CuteFTP, and WinSCP.
One FTP application to steer clear of is Filezilla. Filezilla used to be one of the most popular FTP applications available, but I keep coming across warnings and bad reviews for more recent versions of it. More and more people are reporting that it's bundled in with malware and spyware so be wary of installing it.
So...there's a ton of FTP applications for you to consider. Like I said above, it really comes down to personal preference. So give two or three of them a try, and go with the one that appeals to you and fits your business needs best.
We took a close look at four top FTP choices, and had a few runner-ups towards the end just for good measure. As for which FTP application I use and can personally vouch for, I actually use two. Most often, I use FireFTP for all the reasons I mentioned above. It's my go-to choice, just because it's so fast and convenient. As a backup, I use Cyberduck. It fits the bill, and I like that I can use it with DropBox and Amazon S3. Both are great.
If you'd like to see how to actually connect to your website using FTP, check out my How To Use FTP To Connect To Your Small Business Website tutorial. And if you're a Mac user as well, you might be interested in The Best FTP Applications For Mac Users.