Beam Me Up - Great Free FTP Clients

Need to move files to and from a server? Maybe you need to be able to upload your WordPress or Drupal code from your local computer to your web host? Of possibly you just need to be able to download large files from a corporate FTP server? There are so many FTP client software packages available, you can spend all day trying to decide. Fortunately, there are great free options available that work every bit as good as a paid option. For the technically inclined, you can actually run FTP from the command line and avoid the whole process of choosing.

Despite being able to run FTP from command line (and occasionally I still find a need to do so), I think a GUI that has my saved connections with username/password, starting directories - both local and remote, and the ability to visually compare local and server is the only way to go. I’m listing some of my fave FTP client tools below just to lend an opinion. Note that these free tools make it useless in my mind to use an ad-supported package.


WinSCP is an awesome combined FTP / SFTP / FTPS / SCP (secure copy) client. For some people, WinSCP does not come across as an FTP client.  That’s cool. I use it exclusively as my Windows-based secure copy tool, and use another tool for vanilla (unsafe) FTP. Like all good Windows software, the GUI is very intuitive and easy to use. Transferring files and folder is simple, efficient, and depending on the connection type is super fast. Obviously a secure connection is not going to be as fast as a regular FTP connection. If you are not aware… you should always use a secure connection if possible while using an open WiFi network.


You are likely to see this FTP client listed on everyone’s list of top clients. For good reason… it is an awesome client. It is open source, it is lightweight, it is easy to use, and it works. I was a late adopter to Filezilla, preferring to use built in FTP functionality of tools like Dreamweaver and Aptana. Now though, I find myself using Filezilla for uploads/downloads, and just using my IDEs for coding.


FireFTP is a Firefox add-on that has been around for a several years now. When you activate it in Firefox, it pops a new tab that presents a very typical FTP client GUI. I think it is a better option for someone who is not comfortable installing software, or maybe someone who can’t install software due to security restrictions (but who can somehow install add-ons). I like it, and use it on occasion. I just like to keep my Firefox running small.


While I might get some disagreement, I would lump Leech FTP, Smart FTP, CuteFTP, Coffeecup in to the bunch of capable FTP clients. I find that people are loyal to what they are used to, and I am sure many will say that any one of these is better than any I have listed above. I won’t argue the point too much. I’ve used each of these “others” at some point in the past years, and they were very capable. They just did not strike my fancy when I tried them. I kept going back to my favorites.

In my mind, you should choose the FTP client that meets your needs while appealing to your sense of ease of use. While I personally thought WinSCP was awesome, I have several techie friends who think it sucks. That’s the beauty of having so many choices.

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