Best Free FTP Client

 
Introduction

Dating back to at least April 1971, the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one of the oldest protocols supporting the Internet and is more common than many people know. FTP clients are programs that reside on a PC and enable fast bulk file transfers between the PC and a server.

They connect using File Transfer Protocol via different ports. They are very useful when you need to download or transfer more than a few files and are an essential tool for website management.

You could transfer files one at a time and you could of course do it all freehand via the ftp protocol in a command window - but one of these programs will beat that any which way. No contest!

While there are concerns about the storing of passwords in some clients, the only secure way around this is to NEVER store any passwords at all. Whenever you are using a FTP client, set it to what is called KIOSK MODE, and a password will be prompted every time you use the site, and there will be no way to be compromised.

 
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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

If you use Firefox, or if you needed one more reason to consider switching, my top pick is FireFTP. After the latest round of upgrades it now supports SFTP, compression, and while somewhat hidden, even FXP (server to server transfer).  Other advanced features include directory comparison, syncing directories while navigating, SSL encryption, search/filtering, integrity checks, remote editing, drag & drop, file hashing, and more.  With this robust feature set, its ease of use, and browser integration FireFTP should now serve the needs of all but the heaviest power user needs and is quickly becoming one of my favorite FTP clients.

If you use a browser other than Firefox or require advanced functionality not found in FireFTP  then one of these great standalone applications should meet your needs.

 

For MacOS users, a reader has suggested Cyberduck. Cyberduck is an open source FTP, SFTP, WebDAV and Amazon S3 browser licenced under the GPL with an easy to use interface, integration with external editors and support for many Mac OS X system technologies such as Spotlight, Bonjour, QuickLook and the Keychain.  I tested this quite extensively under Win 7.. the app performed fairly well for single, small transfers (less than 100mb) using FTP but had some issues once multiple files (200+) were selected. If the transfer was broken the resume just would not function, and files would be re-uploaded from the start again. The interface I found a bit daunting compared to the split screen apps as you would have to be very careful when selecting transfer folders to be sure they went into the right places. SFTP worked fine as well, although with the same problems as on FTP concerning resume of uploads/transfers. WebDAV and Amazon S3 performance was quite good, no problems were experienced here.

 

FileZilla FTPFileZilla is the darling of the OSS crowd and certainly does the job. Some users report that WS_FTP Pro (the commercial program) has lately become far too bloated, and instead they have turned to one of the capable and lightweight freeware applications. FileZilla seems to be their favourite. It is a very credible alternative to WS_FTP and has most of the features; it's lightweight in comparison but in my book that is often better. It uses a simple layout based on a two-pane interface that looks a bit like the early versions of WS_FTP. But this simplicity is deceptive, it is actually quite a powerful product. There's a full-featured site manager, firewall and proxy support, SFTP, SSL and Kerberos GSS security, restart, drag 'n drop and a lot more. The only significant feature that's missing is site-to-site transfer, but that's probably of no importance to most users. What is of importance is that FileZilla is totally reliable and very easy to use. The new V3 of FileZilla adds support for Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD.

There's also a free FileZilla FTP server which I haven't used but I hear that it's just as good as the client.There is now a 3PD (3rd-party developer) portable version of FileZilla that has various uses, including being able to place it on a flash drive and take it with you for a no-install (anonymous) use on any PC.

 

Tunnelier is very well on its way to becoming my definite client of choice.... It's a fast SSH client with a basic FTP client strapped on. The main reason for using it is that over SFTP it's many times quicker than FileZilla, which is vital when you are sending larger files. I have been testing it extensively, and can only say that it WORKS... and very well...  Faultlessly transferring files of 4, 5, and 6 GB and resuming broken transfers seamlessly, it also offers a terminal connection over SSH that can be initiated at the same time as your SFTP / FTP connection. XTerm and X11 work 100% and even the remote desktop gave no problem at all. I can fully recommend using this client, and have switched all MY personal use on Windows 7 over to it. The user interface is very easy to use if you are used to FileZilla, also operating on a splitscreen supporting drag-and-drop for easy transfer of files.

 

WinSCP will suit if you want a SCP (secure copy) client for Windows that uses SSH and offers a rich feature set. It includes a built-in terminal, it can launch Putty directly, allows remote file editing, direct transfer and transfer queuing, and has the ability to limit download speed rates.

 

Core FTPCore FTP LE  is the Lite version of the commercial product; it has an annoying nag screen on start-up, though, that might put you off. CoreFTP could be the one for you if you need to log on to a site that gives problems, and it also has a massive feature set. Its strength is probably the ease of use for such a powerful app.

CoreFTP has four particular strengths:

  1. the best tricky-site access ability of any FTP client I've used.
  2. an excellent GUI that makes it outstandingly easy to use.
  3. a massive feature set that somehow doesn't slow it down.
  4. good on-screen real-time logging, which not all clients have.

There are sites - especially those with extra security, where it takes about 8 seconds to connect - that cause some FTP clients insurmountable problems; CoreFTP will get you in. I couldn't log on to one site at all with WS_FTP and some of the others, but this one did the trick. The neat on-screen log display also lets you know what's happening if you have problems. You can force-view invisible files, like htaccess. The chmod feature is useful, you can set your directory and file permissions with a very clear interface; ditto the clear and fast site manager. There's a nice one-click reconnect to the last site in use. Navigating to different drives is tricky, though, in Core - so if you have a stack of hard drives that you work from, you should keep this in mind - FileZilla or Tunnelier is better here.

Here is a feature list: HIPAA compliance, SFTP/ SSH, SSL/ TLS, FTP/ HTTP/ SOCKS proxy, IDN, drag 'n drop, site manager, session manager, queue manager, custom screens, bandwidth control, caching, auto-transfer, retry/resume, auto-reconnect options, auto S/key, remote file-searching, advanced directory listings, start/stop/resume of transfers, full recursive chmod, browser integration, site to site transfers, file viewing and editing, firewall support, custom commands, FTP URL parsing, command line transfers, filters. This should be enough for most people. If not, upgrade to the $25 Pro version that that has custom sounds, two-way encryption, ping and trace route, and more.

Core also does a useful-looking Micro FTP Server which can be installed on PCs and used for PC-to-PC transfers.

 

Contributors: Valuable contributions to this category have been made by: Tom Styles, Irene, Michael Gaul.

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

FireFTP
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Is a web service or web application
Easy to use, platform independent, small, fast, feature packed, frequent updates and new features
4GB Download Limit
2.0.18
870.2 KB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Firefox 26.0 and later, SeaMonkey 2.1 and later

Many language specific versions are available at the developers web site. http://fireftp.mozdev.org/all.html

Tunnelier
5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast, Secure SSH Terminal Emulation
http://www.bitvise.com/tunnelier
4.63
8.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private or educational use only
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows 2000 to 7

The rating of this product is subject to further review.
Two portable versions "Tunnelier U3" and "TunnelierPortable" are available here.

FileZilla
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use, feature rich, includes site manager functions
Does not support Site to Site transfer, Windows 2000 and older versions not supported, passwords saved in open text.
3.8.0
659 KB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, Linux and Mac OS X

A portable version is available here.

WinSCP
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Secure copy using SSH, can limit download speeds, built in terminal.
Casual users may find it harder to learn and use.
5.5.2
5.2 MiB
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows

Also available as a plugin to two file managers, Altap Salamander and FAR Manager.

Core FTP LE
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Great for Tricky sites and when other clients recommended may not work.
Nag Screens
http://www.coreftp.com/
2.2.1778
4.53 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Free for private or educational use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows

v2.2.1778 released 2 July, 2013

Cyberduck
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
http://cyberduck.ch/
http://cyberduck.ch/
4.4.3
14.5 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to 7

The rating of this product is subject to further review.
View the changelog here

 
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Comments

by BrollyLSSJ on 18. January 2014 - 11:57  (113693)

I would also like to see FTP Rush tested (requested 2010 by Wololo). I would also like to see Xftp (free for home and school use) and FTP Voyager (free from the serv u authors since they got acquired by solar winds) tested.

by Anupam on 18. January 2014 - 16:37  (113700)

Thanks a lot for the suggestions. Please try to include links for the software in your post when you suggest them, for the ease of other users, as well as the editors and the moderators. Here are the links for the software suggested in your comment.

FTP Rush: http://www.wftpserver.com/ftprush.htm

Xftp: http://www.netsarang.com/products/xfp_overview.html

FTP Voyager: http://www.serv-u.com/ftpvoyager.asp

by BrollyLSSJ on 19. January 2014 - 18:44  (113731)

I forgot the links, sorry. For FTP Voyager I used the German site (no need to register there), but non English sites are not allowed to post. I did not mention that site on purpose.

by GrosManche on 16. December 2013 - 8:22  (112969)

In March you wrote you would test FTP Rush and add it if were good enough. I'd like to know what's missing or problematic about it, since I've just started using it.

In my search for free software that does it all (FXP, every sorts of secured FTP etc.) that's about the only solution I've found, and so far it works great.

I was on FireFTP before, now things work so much smoother, distant folder browsing is so much faster too.. One thing I liked was I could limit my upload and download speeds settings while transfering and it would affect the current transfers immediatly, signs of good and solid programming imho.

by Anupam on 16. December 2013 - 8:29  (112971)

That comment was from the old editor. A new editor has now taken over the category. So, please wait for them to update the category at their time. Thanks for the suggestion :).

by gzmhanu on 16. March 2013 - 23:08  (106290)

One time I get file corruptions on upload PHP files with FireFTP.

Bitvise SSH Client (formerly Tunnelier) not belongs to this category (or the category name is wrong), since it isn't a FTP Client. It's a SSH and SFTP Client. Tunnelier can connect only to servers using SSH protocol version 2, and can perform file transfers with such servers using SFTP over SSH2. Tunnelier cannot connect to a classic, unencrypted FTP server. (Or even a newer, encrypted FTP server. It's a different protocol from SSH/SFTP.)

by The Gene on 27. March 2013 - 15:42  (106578)

Thanks for the response, I will certainly have a good look at the claim you make of it not being able to connect to a normal FTP client, and definitely report back on this.....

I am also currently testing FTPRush, anf will add my review on that soon as well.

by Jack Daniels Esq (not verified) on 30. November 2012 - 16:30  (103125)

I have happily being using the Linux manager on my server for years - but it sometimes gets bogged down with too many users so I decided to try a couple FTP managers out there.

Hoo boy - what really shocked me was seeing all my personal data in a file out in the great beyond - in plain sight and in plain text - WTF

I went thru a slew of them - none really performed as expected, so on a whim I added FireFTP - say no more - dont have to do a damned thing except click here and there and we are done - still have my Linux website manager and my regular publisher - its just really simple..
Thanks guys - good job
BR>Jack

by Gabriel Harper (not verified) on 9. September 2012 - 21:07  (99015)

FileZilla stores all passwords as plaintext, and is the target for many malware apps that steal FTP info.

FileZilla developers write this off as being the user's responsibility. Personally I think it's a BIG reason to consider another app. There are too many malware infected websites and viruses out there - and if you get one your passwords are ripe for the picking.

by TheGene (not verified) on 1. December 2012 - 13:19  (103163)

Well... I have tried and tried, but it DOES seem that the ONLY way to really be secure in FileZilla is to actually disable the saving of passwords completely. (kiosk mode) That is also the recommendation I have from the developers.....

by Mallin (not verified) on 9. September 2012 - 19:06  (99011)

I'm trying out FireFTP and like it so far.

One thing I want to caution about FileZilla though. FileZilla saves your passwords on your computer in plain text in .xml files. If you're at all concerned about security and privacy, you know how unsafe that is. I set up a friend with FileZilla to have her retrieve a few files, thinking it would be easiest to walk her through setting up and using. However about a month later her computer got infected, and of course the server was hacked.

Use a client that encrypts your passwords, better yet, don't let any FTP client save your passwords to be safest.

by The Gene on 13. November 2012 - 11:27  (102241)

I will investigate this a bit more in-depth and see if there isn't a solution to this available...

by FrankoTanko (not verified) on 5. September 2012 - 6:18  (98789)

FireFTP only makes sense if you are a FireFox user, which I am not. I understand why some people like firefox, but I flat out hate it. I know I'm against the grain here with most techie users, but IE9 and Chrome if necessary work best for me.
That being said, the only logical choices for me in the ftp arena is filezilla as a client service. The server software is cool, but ahs some issues. Fileilla support SFTP client side which is a huge bonus. It just works.

by MrDog (not verified) on 8. August 2012 - 6:38  (97372)

I love Filezilla - very easy to use etc etc. But - and it is a big but - I very occasionally get file corruptions on upload PHP files. Even if I delete the file on the server it still gets a corrupted version, and I have to use another FTP program.

by Alanna (not verified) on 17. July 2012 - 17:47  (96332)

JSCAPE also has a free ftp solution called AnyClient. It's Platform independent with a web-based version, too. If interested, you can check it out at http://www.jscape.com/products/file-transfer-clients/anyclient/.

by Trapped Under Ice (not verified) on 7. July 2012 - 19:24  (95864)

I dislike FileZilla, it once removed the file on server and dind't replace for my edited file, and I lost its content.

by moxin on 28. February 2012 - 23:56  (89663)

i have used a lot of ftp clients.
BitKinex stands out, switched to it from Filezilla.
Bitkinex is an amazing piece of software.

by Space Patroller (not verified) on 28. January 2012 - 17:32  (87941)

I've used FireFTP for years. I have not tried it out since I got Windows 7 with Fx 9.0.1 but I do have it in place ready to go.

I've moved up to 135 MB with it in one operation

by Anonymouss (not verified) on 11. January 2012 - 21:24  (87031)

The maximum file size that FireFTP can download at this time is 4 GB .Really!!! I can't use it then.. Will stick to portable filezilla,not that i am impressed by it either(pretty slow on large single files..)

by Dobry (not verified) on 28. December 2011 - 17:58  (86131)

Cyberduck is available for Windows as well as Mac.

by James Ferris (not verified) on 8. October 2011 - 9:08  (81099)

I've been using LeechFTP for years. Excellent free app.
Great feature set including multithreading for simultaneous transfers. helps increase total bandwidth use. no site-to-site.
Unfortunately original developer abandoned it and so its been picked up by another... finally.
http://www.leechftp.org/

by Matt_P_UK (not verified) on 4. August 2011 - 15:24  (76907)

As a developer Filezilla has been causing me loads of problems as it always disconnects after file transfer even with the setting supposedly disabled or set to a very high number. When making small changes with a client on the phone the constant connecting seems to cause the server to block me and sometimes even causes the site to go down!

Just downloaded Core and whilst it looks basic it is lightning fast and does seem to hold the connection open as I have set it to.

by Paul Curtis (not verified) on 3. May 2011 - 13:32  (71345)

great post, just saved me an hour of finding all the information you have presented here.

by Koman (not verified) on 15. March 2011 - 12:35  (67946)

Have been trying out FileZilla af found it nice and easy to use.

After a day of use my firewall started going ballistic because FileZilla was initiating SOCKS 5 connections. FileZilla was not setup to facilitate this and I find this disappointing as a number of viruses have an affinity for SOCKS 5 as a means of propagating themselves.

by Anon-y-mous (not verified) on 27. January 2011 - 18:31  (65317)

I have tried Filezilla, Core and WS_FTP.

WS_FTP is nice but lacks bandwith throttling critical in offices. Nothing like sucking up all the bandwith.

Core (even the light - Free) has throttling. It is a very frendly and robust program but lacks a few SSH variations.

Filezilla is a more complex setup/use because it is flexable. Allows bandwidth throttling and has extensive SSH variables. (but being opensource may have issues with HIPAA or SOX due to internal policys)

by FTPwebhead on 23. November 2010 - 16:44  (61563)

Don't forget web-ftp clients, many people don't need full-blown FTP software (or don't have time to learn it) and for them web-ftp may work. Check out web-ftp.org, or if you need hosting for it there's places like Online Institute's ftp hosting that includes web-based ftp access -- then all you need is a web browser, nothing to download etc. another web-based solution is net2ftp -- lots of options but web-ftp is definitely a solution for some

by bernardz on 11. November 2010 - 5:22  (61021)

FTP clients in my experience, the most important variable is speed. It is so frustrating when you need to upload 11 meg and all you are getting is 4.7kb/sec. Which is actually normal, surely today we should be able to do better.

I have tried

ftp wanderer
FileZilla

Coffeecup FTP looks good too but I have not tried it yet.

by Wololo (not verified) on 1. November 2010 - 22:35  (60614)

I would like to see Rush FTP tested. It got converted to a free version since version 2.0 (release date 25th of August 2010).

by MidnightCowboy on 2. November 2010 - 6:30  (60635)

Thank you for the suggestion. It is the editors choice about which products to feature but they are all considered.

Anyone interested in Rush FTP should ensure that they only visit the official site.

http://www.wftpserver.com/

There are other sites featuring this software which contain malware and other exploits.

Always use WOT (Web Of Trust) or a similar ratings program before clicking on the sites displayed in search results.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/safe-computing-under-hour.htm

by Sea Mac on 29. October 2010 - 0:36  (60390)

This article was last updated August 24th 2009 and, since then, Cyberduck has been released for Windows Systems!

Cyberduck

http://cyberduck.ch/

Open source FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Cloud Files,
Google Docs & Amazon S3 Browser for Mac & Windows.

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