An FTP client
supports downloading of files across the Internet from computers called FTP servers
. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol
, the technology that allows FTP clients and servers to communicate over computer networks. An FTP client is a software program with a GUI (graphical user interface) that provides various options to help manage the process of transferring files.
Some FTP clients listed below work only on Microsoft Windows while others work cross-platform on Linux and Mac computers as well. Some vendors charge for their FTP clients while others are available for free download.
A commercial product from Ipswitch, the WS_FTP basic client was updated from its original "LE" version to better work with newer versions of Microsoft Windows. WS_FTP Home edition supports all of the basic FTP client file transfer features suitable for personal use. WS Professional includes additional security and other features designed for business customers.
FileZilla is free open source software that includes both an FTP client and a corresponding FTP server program. FileZilla supports all popular operating systems including Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Features of the FileZilla FTP client include support for large (> 4 GB) files and configurable network bandwidth throttling.
FTP Voyager is a commercial product available in Standard and Secure versions. Both contain many advanced features. FTP Voyager Standard supports scheduled file transfers, on-the-fly compression, bandwidth and port range limits, and concurrent transfers. The Secure edition adds SSH and SSL capability. Not nearly as popular as competing FTP clients, FTP Voyager is still a good choice for power users. This same vendor also sells the well-known Serv-U FTP server.
Engineers and system administrators like WinSCP for its command line capabilities and its protocol support. SCP stands for Session Control Protocol, an older standard for secure file transfers. WinSCP supports both SCP and the newer SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) standard in addition to traditional FTP. WinSCP is free, open source software for Microsoft Windows clients.
Popular with Web site administrators, CoffeeCup FTP clients have a long track record of stability. CoffeeCup Free FTP supports Windows only but provides all the basic features of a FTP client. With the possible exception of advertising banners, the product offers good usability.
Web browsers can also function as FTP clients. A free Firefox add-on, FireFTP enhances that browser to function as a FTP client. FireFTP supports the basic operations of windowed FTP clients including file drag and drop and automatic resume of interrupted transfers. It also supports SFTP. Note that the newer versions of FireFTP only work with Firefox 3.
No plug-ins are required for Internet Explorer to function as an FTP client. In Internet Explorer, host names, usernames and passwords can all be specified as part of the URL when connecting to a remote FTP server. Windows' My Network Places allows FTP client settings to be saved between sessions. Newer versions of Internet Explorer now support passive mode (PASV) configuration, necessary to get FTP clients to work with many firewalls.
Billed as "the world's most popular choice for a reliable file transfer client," Cute FTP provides a GUI that functions much like Windows Explorer. Users drag and drop icons to specify files to be uploaded to or downloaded from servers. A Site Manager feature saves username, password and host (URL and IP address) settings between FTP sessions. GlobalSCAPE sells both Windows and Mac FTP clients as commercial products. Before using CuteFTP on the Internet, ensure potentially critical security vulnerabilities been addressed (see CuteFTP FTP Client Directory Traversal Vulnerability
Visicom Media offers Freeware and Pro versions of this product. AceFTP Freeware does not support secure file transfers and some of the user interface features available in Pro. Before using this product on the Internet, ensure potentially critical security vulnerabilities been addressed (see AceFTP FTP-Client Directory Traversal Vulnerability
SmartFTP was a free personal FTP client for Microsoft Windows for many years but is now only supported as a commercial product. SmartFTP supports all modern versions of Windows including both 32- and 64-bit operating systems.