When developing a website, you must understand FTP and how it’s used. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol – a building block of the internet. FTP functions as a medium to transfer your files to a web server. Imagine that you are using Google Drive, but the files are your website’s content. Read more about FTP here.
In the past, FTP used commands lines – like what you see in the Windows’ command prompt. In the era of cloud storage, however, that kind of tool is difficult to learn and slow to use. That is why many modern FTP clients come with a familiar graphical user interface (GUI.) Depending on the client you use, using an FTP client can be as easy as browsing files in your PC.
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Advantages of using FTP Clients
Here are some great things that you should look forward to when using FTP clients:
- Resumable Transfer
If you have a slow internet connection, you’re in luck. Many FTP clients allow resuming file transfers when your connection comes back after being down.
- Transferring Multiple or Large Files
This is where FTP beats cloud storage. By using FTP clients, you can send or receive from dozens to hundreds of files much faster. There are no file size limits.
- Automated Transfer
Transferring files in bulk can slow down your productivity since you need to prepare files and even wait for the process to finish. You can use FTP clients to schedule transfers to start when you are away from the keyboard.
- Data Recovery
Some FTP clients offer scheduled backup to ensure that users data is safe if major issues come around.
Disadvantages of using FTP Clients
Nothing’s perfect. Here’s what you should know when considering an FTP client:
- Lack of Security
Some FTP clients do not encrypt login credentials and user data. This is a problem if your site information is confidential. To upgrade your security, you need FTP clients that support SFTP or the FTPS protocol. SFTP uses the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, while FTPS uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL).
- Vulnerable to Hackers
Insecure FTP clients are vulnerable to attacks. Hackers can pose as another user in the network and transfer your online files to different remote server.
Best Free FTP Clients
There are many FTP clients. Like with most services, you can choose to get a premium or a free one. A premium FTP clients offer better performance and features, but it is OK to use a free one. Here are our favorite best free FTP clients that you can use on a tight budget.
Established in 2001, FileZilla is one of the oldest FTP clients. Because of that, FileZilla is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS users. Apart from the program’s availability, you get a two-pane interface that allows you to drag and drop files or folders from one directory to another. Users can manage more than one connection at a time, with the ability to pause and resume transfers. You can also bookmark files and folders making the important ones easy to find. However, FileZilla has some controversy attached to it. First, the software is known to store login credentials without encrypting them. Second, its installer can come with unnecessary software that may harm your computer.
Compared to the previous two, WinSCP may not be the prettiest. But beyond the cluttered user interface, it has some advanced features that you rarely find in other free FTP clients. It has a command line interface, allowing you to create automated actions. You can also make scheduled transfers that run in the background. Last but not least, WinSCP is portable. You can copy it to a USB stick, and work with it on another computer. With these features in mind, WinSCP is a good option for advanced users who need a free FTP client. Unfortunately, it is only available for Windows.
FreeFTP is a simple FTP client with features that you can find in other clients we mentioned. You can preview files, edit text remotely, and bookmark files or folders. One extra option that you get from FreeFTP is backup support. Users can get their directory backed up periodically to avoid data loss. However, FreeFTP is free because it is ad-supported. If you do not want to see advertisements you can upgrade to DirectFTP, the pro version, for $39.
Free FTP clients can be a good option for web developers with a tight budget. The programs listed in this article prove that free doesn’t have to be bad. With these tools, you will definitely improve your productivity. If you know any other great free FTP clients, please let us know by leaving a comment below!