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Best FTP Clients for Windows

written by: Profacgillies•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/3/2009

The growth of importance of the Internet and the World Wide Web has led to an increasing interest in tools to use the FTP (File Transfer Protocol). This article compares two free tools with the inbuilt functionality in Windows Vista with two applications and an add-in for Firefox.

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    FTP Handling Functions within Windows

    Within Windows, you can create a shortcut to a specific network location, including an FTP site. Within the Computer window, right-click and select "Add a Network Location." You can then use the "Add Network Location Wizard" to define a shortcut to a specific ftp site. The Wizard will prompt you for the location of the site (remember to use the full name including ftp://ftp.example.com) a user name and a password if required.

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    Usability

    Rating Average

    I had some problems gaining access, but when it works it's easy to use

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    Functionality

    Rating Average

    This approach is simple but limited in flexibility

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    Reliability

    Rating Average

    I had some problems making a reliable connection on my wireless network

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    FireFTP

    FireFTP is an add-on for the Firefox browser offering FTP access from within your browser. The integration is attractive and it offers a wide range of facilities including directory comparison and the synchronizing of directories while navigating, SFTP, SSL encryption, search/filtering, integrity checks, remote editing, and drag & drop file transfers.

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    Usability

    Rating Average

    It is a very appealing concept, but reliability problems compromise usability.

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    Functionality

    Rating Average

    A wide range of functions are provided within your Firefox browser.

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    Reliability

    Rating Average

    FireFTP has not proved to be totally reliable in my experience when used over my home wireless network

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    CoffeeCup Free FTP 4.2

    CoffeeCup Software offer at least three versions of their FTP client software as well as integrating it into other applications. They offer it as part of their free zip file manager, reviewed elsewhere. They offer a commercial version with enhanced facilities as well as their free client CoffeeCup Free FTP 4.2

    Their free client has a simple interface and is easy to use. However, in my environment it proved no more reliable than Fire FTP, so was less attractive than the Firefox add-in because of the integrated nature of that solution.

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    Usability

    Rating Average

    Very easy to use, but again compromised by reliability problems

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    Functionality

    Rating Average

    Fewer features than FireFTP

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    Reliability

    Rating Average

    Still subject to failed connections on my wireless network

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    Filezilla

    The only thing that a user really wants from an FTP client is a reliable and rapid connection that connects easily and stays connected. The best application that I have found in these terms is Filezilla. It has a nice simple interface, but what sets its apart from its peers is its ability to make and keep a connection. It seems equally comfortable with wired and wireless connections, and uploads and downloads files rapidly. And yes it's free.

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    Usability

    Rating Average

    Easy to use: the Quick Connect feature is a nice touch

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    Functionality

    Rating Average

    A wide range of functions are available

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    Reliability

    Rating Average

    It just works.

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    Conclusions

    If you do not experience the connection reliability problems that I experienced with FireFTP or even the Windows Network Location Shortcut, then they may well provide a good solution. For me, though, I keep returning to Filezilla. It's free and it just works. Sadly, this is not as common amongst computer applications as we might wish!