Everyone wants fast and secure file transfers - and that's where FTP platforms come in handy. They usually provide faster file transfers than HTTP. But finding the best FTP platform for your needs is not always easy.
FTP clients often have a huge number of features and requirements, not to mention their pricing which can range from free to obscenely expensive.
To help you discover which FTP client is the best for your specific needs, I’ve tested lots of FTP providers and hand-picked the top 5 FTP clients available today:
- FileZilla (Great free FTP platform, PRO plan available for extra security)
- ShareFile (Ideal for businesses which prioritize security)
- WS-FTP Pro (Great FTP storage option for Windows users)
- Fetch (FTP provider recommended for Mac users)
- Cyberduck (Great all-around FTP, upgrade available on a donation basis)
Paid Pro plan starts at $19.99
Recommended for: users that want a free platform that’s compatible with most operating systems.
Those of you who have explored the world of FTP may recognize the name FileZilla. It was initially released in June of 2001, making it one of the oldest FTP clients out there. Plus, it boasts of multiple features that include FTPS support, transfer-resuming capabilities, and remote file configuration.
FileZilla is a multi-platform, free FTP software that’s available for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows.
It’s free, although you can upgrade to the PRO plan for a one-time $19.99 payment that gives you access to additional features, such as Amazon S3 and Google Drive support.
In addition to this, you can download the platform in 47 different languages, all of which feature a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop compatibility. This allows users to simply click and drag the files they want to transfer, which can also be bookmarked and queued up for easy management.
There’s a chance that people who haven’t had much experience with FTP clients may find FileZilla overwhelming because, although it’s basic, it’s also rather complex.
It supports IPv6 and can handle file sizes of up to 4GB, while its superb site manager and synchronized directory browsing make it a great fit for casual and hardcore users alike.
The double pane interface is similar to most FTP clients, and you can choose to run FileZilla with a simple transfer protocol or use its advanced settings to toggle between encryption options and set your preferred speed limits.
However, it’s worth noting that using FileZilla’s basic FTP transfer protocol poses a variety of safety risks, which include a lack of default encryption, username, and password visibility, and susceptibility to brute force attacks.
- Available in 47 languages
- Compatible with Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows
- Remote file editing
- Free with PRO plan available
- No default encryption
- The free version has basic security flaws
Plans starting at $16.00
Recommended for: businesses that want top-of-the-line security, huge file size limits, and mobile app availability.
Business consultants and enterprises often find themselves needing FTP clients that are both powerful and secure. Luckily, ShareFile by Citrix offers this and much more as the platform uses AES 256-bit encryption for storage and SSL/TLS encryption during file transfer.
Thanks to its powerful SSAE 16 Type II certified data centers, ShareFile provides a reliable infrastructure with a massive 100GB file size limit. At the same time, the FTP client supports 2-step authentication, which can help minimize phishing and other forms of cyber attacks.
Its customizable workflows and intricate permission settings allow you to control who accesses your data and how they do it, truly putting you in the driver’s seat.
On another note, Enterprises and entrepreneurs will be glad to hear that ShareFile offers a great alternative if you need to update and access the same file regularly. It automatically synchronizes folders and updates them in real time, so everyone working on the files is always on the same page.
Another reason ShareFile makes a great choice is that this client is available for both Mac and Windows. The Windows version features a handy Microsoft Outlook plugin that allows you to transfer files safely via email. As for mobile users, there are apps available for Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones as well as tablets, so you can also transfer files from your device of preference.
However, even though it’s designed for businesses, the download and upload links you can send out to your contacts expire after a few days. This means that if your clients don’t get a chance to upload or download the information then, you’ll probably have to send over a fresh link.
- Robust AES 256-bit encryption for storage
- SSL/TLS encryption protocol for transfers
- 100GB file size limit
- Available for Mac and Windows
- Request links expire after a few days
3. WS-FTP Pro
Plans starting at $49.95 per license
Recommended for: Windows users who want granular file management and organization options in a secure environment.
WS-FTP Pro made it to the list of the best FTP clients for Windows because it’s an enterprise-caliber platform that boasts of an automatic backup feature, which lets you schedule file transfers from and to your FTP servers.
This FTP client also allows you to download files to any type of storage device, including USB units, network directories, servers, and even DVD drives.
Moreover, WS-FTP Pro encrypts all files using OpenPGP for secure management before and after they are transferred; so you can opt to use AES and 3DES ciphers, as well as RSA and Diffie-Hellman key types because they are all supported.
As for the transfer itself, WS-FTP Pro supports 256-bit AES encryption over SSL, SCP2, and SSH, while it also offers built-in algorithms that verify the integrity of your files to ensure they have not been compromised during the transport.
Additionally, you can also set up email notifications that let you know when a file transfer has finished or when there’s an automatic backup that’s initiating. And, if you ever need assistance, WS-FTP Pro has a reliable support team that is available through the phone during business hours.
In a more negative light, however, you should know that interrupted transfers with WS-FTP Pro don’t restart automatically, so you’ll have to check the error and restart them manually.
There were also a further few minor issues that stood out, like the fact that the folder refresh can take a few minutes to show new files due to the server rules and the that you can’t generate unlimited download and upload links.
- Enterprise-caliber features
- Great file encryption options before and during transfer
- Email notifications
- Automatic backup to different devices
- Interrupted downloads don’t start automatically
- Folder refresh may take some time to work
$29.99 one-time purchase with $10 upgrade available
Recommended for: Mac users that need an FTP client for business or personal purposes.
Fetch makes the list as one of the best FTP clients for Mac because it boasts remote one-click editing as well as FTPS and AppleScript support. You should also know that the developers modeled the file list and other parts of the platform after the Mac OS X Finder, so regular Mac users will find it very easy to maneuver.
With Fetch, you can edit any kind of file directly on the remote server and the Quick Look tool allows you to preview files on the server before the transfer is complete.
Thanks to their automatic resuming capabilities, any failed file transfers will restart without any intervention. You can also automate repetitive tasks and you’ll have default support for Zip, Gzip, and other popular file formats.
When it comes to transferring your files securely, Fetch allows SFTP and FTPS transfer protocols, so your log in information is never visible. Furthermore, the client supports 11 different types of proxy servers and features Automatic Passive Mode to bypass firewalls and avoid connection errors whenever possible.
There aren’t many things to dislike about Fetch, but in some cases, completed transfers didn’t generate a download alert so you may have to manually verify that the downloads were successful.
- Remote one-click editing
- AppleScript support
- Automatic resume transfers
- FTPS and SFTP support
- Lack of download alert
Free version with a donation-based upgrade
Recommended for: users who want a casual FTP client with the ability to upgrade for a small fee.
Cyberduck offers a great combination of power and simplicity as it offers support for FTP as well as third-party cloud protocols like AS3, WebDAV, Google Drive, and Windows Azure.
It is available for Mac OS X and Windows, plus it features a user-friendly interface, bookmarking capabilities, and easy integration with third-party editors. It also allows users to drag and drop as well as cut and paste items to and from their remote servers.
Cyberduck can handle file sizes of up to 2GB, which makes it a good fit for casual users as well as small businesses. However, it doesn’t allow sharing directly from within the FTP client, which can be a huge inconvenience if you have to collaborate on the files you’re transferring.
One thing you should keep in mind is that Cyberduck’s dashboard is not very attractive. It’s very simple and straight to the point, with a donation pop up that constantly appears unless you make a contribution.
And, if you’re transferring multiple files at one, you’ll notice it fails a few times before connecting properly.
- Supports FTPS as well as AS3 WebDAV and other third-party protocols
- Free version available for Mac and Windows
- File sizes of up to 2GB
- Multiple transfers are unstable
- Overcrowded and complicated interface
Which Is the Best FTP Client for You?
To choose the best FTP client, you’ll have to keep your particular operating system in mind and consider the details that are the most important to you.
Here are my picks for particular FTP clients:
- FileZilla is best for users who want flexibility at an affordable price.
- ShareFile is best for large enterprises that handle a large volume of sensitive information.
- WS-FTP Pro suits companies looking for the best FTP client for Windows machines.
- Fetch is best for companies and individuals who need the best FTP client for Mac OS.
- Cyberduck is best for casual users who may need security from time to time.
Do you feel like I’ve forgotten a great FTP client? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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