Free FTP Client Review: Comparing the Best FTP Tools for Windows

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.

Usability (3 out of 5)

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

Functionality (3 out of 5)

This approach is simple but limited in flexibility

Reliability (2 out of 5)

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

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.

Usability (3 out of 5)

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

Functionality (4 out of 5)

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

Reliability (2 out of 5)

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

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.

Usability (3 out of 5)

Very easy to use, but again compromised by reliability problems

Functionality (3 out of 5)

Fewer features than FireFTP

Reliability (2 out of 5)

Still subject to failed connections on my wireless network

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.

Usability (4 out of 5)

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

Functionality (5 out of 5)

A wide range of functions are available

Reliability (5 out of 5)

It just works.

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!