15 Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users (Mac and Windows)

Updated Sep 1, 2022.
15 Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users (Mac and Windows)

As with everything else, the tools you use for managing your website are just as important as the website itself. Going for cheap or mediocre software may save you some time and money today but in the long run, you might run into problems when you need to replace them. 

This applies just as much to choosing an FTP client as it does to any other software. So, what options are available to you and how do you go about selecting the right one for you? 

In this post, we’ll discover what FTP (File Transfer Protocol) means, what an FTP client is, and why you need one at all. Then we’ll explore some of the best FTP clients available to you today, both free and premium.

What is an FTP Client?

First, let’s discuss what FTP is. The File Transfer Protocol is a standard communication protocol for transferring files over the internet. It can be very useful for website managers and owners as it allows you to upload files from your personal computer or other devices to your hosting server. 

If, for example, you have a version of your website stored locally on your computer, FTP can help you send the website files straight to your web server so that you can publish them. For WordPress users, FTP can be used to upload theme and plugin files that you download from third-party sources. 

To send files from a computer to a server via FTP, you need what’s known as an FTP client. This is an application on your device that connects you to remote servers through FTP and other protocols. 

An FTP client provides an environment in which you can view and manage files on your server, upload files to a server, and download files to your computer from a server. 

Some FTP clients allow you to do some other things, too. For example, some clients let you connect to cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox; edit files stored on a server without having to download them; log your file upload/download history; and so on. 

They are often capable of transferring files through other protocols besides FTP, most notably FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure) and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol). FTPS encrypts FTP transfers with SSL/TLS, while SFTP uses secure shell encryption to secure your transfers. 

When looking for FTP clients, you should look out for these protocols as they protect your file transfers from theft and unauthorized changes. You should always opt for a more secure protocol over the relatively insecure FTP whenever you can. 

There are abundant options for FTP clients available, some free and others paid. The right one for you ultimately comes down to your needs and operating system. In this post, we’ll be reviewing the 15 best FTP clients for both Windows and macOS. 

Meanwhile, a quick word of warning: you must always download your FTP client — or any software for that matter — from the official product website or a file download service approved by the vendors. You might end up putting malware on your device if you download FTP software from unverified sources.

Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users

1. FileZilla

Best Overall FTP Client.

FileZilla is the Best Overall FTP Client

FileZilla is a big name in the FTP client space that’s endorsed by developers all over the world for its support for several protocols — it supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP — and its flexibility. It’s endorsed by WordPress for being a free, high-quality client.

FileZilla is built around a two-pane display, showing local files on the left and server files on the right side. Transferring files is as simple as dragging and dropping from source location to destination

With the search and bookmark tools, files are easy to track down. FileZilla is capable of handling files as big as 4 GB without any disruption to your workflow. While the interface may not be the sleekest, it is easy to learn, and new features are regularly added with its frequent updates. 

FileZilla provides great support and even has a forum on which you can chat with other users and find answers to questions you may have. You can participate in the helpful wiki by submitting bugs or feature requests. It is supported on both Windows and macOS. 

Pricing

FileZilla is free, but there’s FileZilla Pro which retails for $19.99. 

Pros

  • Operation is convenient
  • Supports FTPS and SFTP
  • Can handle up to 10 transfers simultaneously
  • Updates are regular
  • Free

Cons

  • Cloud storage is only available in the Pro version
  • Does not support imports from other FTP clients

2. Cyberduck

Best FTP Client for macOS.

Cyberduck is the Best FTP Client for macOS

Most FTP clients don’t perform as well on macOS as on other operating systems. But Cyberduck is the exception to the rule. 

Cyberduck is a free and open-source cloud storage browser that integrates nicely with both the Windows and macOS operating systems. It stands out from the competition in its wide range of supported cloud storage options, from Amazon S3 to Backblaze B2, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. 

One thing that makes Cyberduck particularly attractive for Windows users is that there’s little choice when it comes to FTP clients that let them browse their cloud storage accounts. What’s more, the developers have gone as far as to integrate the Cryptomator encryption software directly into Cyberduck to offer added security for file transfers. 

Cyberduck boasts one of the most well-designed and intuitive interfaces in the FTP space today. It is impressive in that you can distribute content in the cloud with a simple connection to a CDN (Content Delivery Network). 

As it’s a free and open-source program, Cyberduck naturally relies on a community-based approach to user support. For special help or assistance, you can raise a support ticket on the public support forum through Cyberduck’s website. The website features a very helpful support wiki that plays host to a detailed knowledge base. 

Pricing

Cyberduck is 100% free for both personal and business use. As an option, you can donate any amount above $10 to support the developers’ work on the platform. Doing this will remove the donation reminder message found in the application, although they are not too invasive. 

Pros

  • Well designed interface
  • Supports many cloud storage services
  • Supports imports from FileZilla

Cons

  • Does not support parallel connections
  • No portable version available

3. Forklift 3

A Powerful First Runner-Up FTP Program for macOS.

Forklift 3 is a Powerful First Runner Up FTP Program for macOS

Forklift 3 is a full-featured system file manager for macOS. It is exceptional for several reasons but one thing that makes it particularly great is its use of dual panes for the viewing and management of files. 

This dual pane approach is the most efficient way to manage files from a user experience perspective because you only need to drag files between panes to move them. As a result, copying and moving files are a lot faster and more efficient

Forklift 3 was designed for iOS and you can see this in every aspect of the FTP software, right down to the minor details of the UI. It supports column view, dark mode, icon view, and list view. It even provides a preview for text documents, PDFs, and images.

Forklift has a folder synchronization feature that can automatically compare the files in two different folders. This can be useful in several scenarios. For example, if you have to compare and sort two folders so that Folder A contains only source files while Folder B contains new and modified files, Forklift can automate this process for you. 

Moreover, Forklift supports tabbed browsing, allowing you to open several folders and perform several actions or operations at once. 

Another one of Forklift’s wonderful features is multiple file renaming. While macOS has this feature, Forklift does it better. 

You can select a large number of files, adjust a few settings with the filters and parameters that Forklift provides, click on the rename button, and Forklift will rename them all in an instant. You can save those settings so that you can apply them to future renaming operations, too. 

Forkliftcomes with an App Remover baked into it. This is great, especially for those macOS users who have a bone to pick with Apple’s drag-and-drop method of installing and uninstalling applications. 

Pricing

Forklift 3 Pricing Plan

Forklift 3 is available in a free trial version and four user license types. First, there’s the Personal License, which costs $29.95. Then there’s the Family License, which costs $49.95. There’s the Small Business License, which costs $99.95. And finally, there’s the Teachers & Students License, which costs $19.95. You can get Forklift 3 plus access to 200+ other applications if you subscribe to Setapp for $9.99/month. 

Pros

  • Comes with an advanced multi-file renaming tool
  • Comes with a handy folder synchronization feature
  • Uses the intuitive dual-pane file management system
  • Application remover baked into the software

Cons

  • Not completely keyboard controllable
  • Needs more terminal integration

4. Transmit

An Excellent macOS-based FTP Client for Everyone.

Transmit is an Excellent macOS based FTP Client for Everyone

Transmit is one of the few high-quality choices available when it comes to FTP clients for macOS. Transmit allows fast file transfers over FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, S3, and FTPS. It supports transfers with Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Rackspace, and Dropbox, among several other leading cloud storage providers. 

Transmit offers a modern, crisp, and uncluttered user interface that only presents the essentials while hiding away all the other features that most people may never use. Beginner users of FTP software will be grateful for the user-friendliness and the attention to detail that the developers put into making the front end of the program intuitive. 

Another thing for which Transmit stands out is its speed. The tool has been optimized over several updates —the tool is currently on the fifth version— for faster search and file transfers. This should be music to your ears if you do a lot of heavy file transfers; the time saved with this tool will more than makeup for its monetary cost.

Transmit uses the dual-pane view that makes it faster and more efficient to locate files than it would be with the Finder tool. The Panic Sync feature is one of the fastest ways to securely sync your local and cloud files so that you can access them on multiple devices. You can sync from local-to-local or remote-to-remote environments. 

There’s a Batch Rename tool, a Get Info Sidebar (through which you can get more details about files while browsing), and a Places or Bookmark bar that allows you to jump to files or folders that you visit often. 

On the security side of things, you get two-factor authentication login for added security, as well as support for Krypton and YubiKey. You can create and manage secure keys without leaving the FTP program. 

Pricing

It’s easy to recommend Transmit to every single user of macOS as the price is low enough to justify the purchase and the benefits and convenience far outweigh the financial cost. Transmit costs $45 after a free 7-day trial

Pros

  • Inbuilt code editor
  • Dashboard widget
  • Drag-and-drop uploading
  • Support for multiple languages
  • Two-factor login supported

Cons

  • Not available for Windows or Linux
  • Installs adware by default

5. SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server

An FTP Client that Gives You Total Control Over Your File Transfers.

SolarWinds is an FTP Client that Gives Total Control Over File Transfers

SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer (MFT) Server gives you complete control over your file transfers over both web and mobile devices —even for transfers of over 3 GB+. 

It simplifies the transfer process by employing a drag-and-drop interface. Its intuitive dashboard provides central control and customizable automation abilities, as well as the ability to look through the activity logs whenever necessary. 

You also get the crucial security features —like Active Directory integration and authentication features— needed for business functions. The client supports transfers via FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and HTTP/S over IPv6 and IPv4 networks. 

The tool ensures that you stay compliant with PCI, DSS, and HIPAA regulations, as well as any other standards that require secure data transfers. 

Pricing

SolarWinds Pricing Plan

SolarWinds starts at $3,192 per server with support for multiple concurrent sessions. But you’ll need to contact the vendor for a more accurate quote. 

Pros

  • Support provided through a 150,000-member online community
  • The New to Serv-U section provides helpful guides, videos, and articles for new users
  • Help is available through a customer portal through which you can submit a ticket

Cons

  • Expensive

6. WinSCP

Best Free Windows-Only FTP Client. 

WinSCP is the Best Free Windows Only FTP Client

WinSCP is a Windows-only FTP client that’s free and open-source. It is a great choice for any Windows user that needs a client that supports FTP, WebDAV, SFTP, S3, SCP, and FTPS. Boasting over 150 million downloads to date, its popularity is no wonder as it is completely free without any adware or donation prompts. 

Just like with other FTP clients, WinSCP adopts a simple interface, dividing the main window into two panes with an area for local files and another for remote files. Even as a beginner to FTP software, you can start transferring files immediately as it’s easy to figure out the controls. 

The interface is highly customizable and there’s even an integrated text editor so that you can edit files without ever leaving the program. For advanced users, WinSCP offers a scripting feature with which you can automate various tasks. 

With support for tabbed browsing, you can boost your productivity and complete more work in a shorter time. You can integrate any text editor of your choice into the platform. And there’s support for several languages. 

Additionally, you can set administrative restrictions if you don’t want certain people gaining access to certain files or functions. 

On the support side, you get resources like in-depth documentation, a user forum, and options for getting customer support that is better than similar offerings by some of their competitors. 

Pricing

WinSCP is completely free.

Pros

  • Integrated text editor 
  • Enhanced security with a master password 
  • Scripting function available for task automation
  • No adware or donation prompts

Cons

  • Does not allow for editing of keyboard shortcuts

7. FireFTP

A Powerful Free FTP Software for Firefox Power Users.

FireFTP is a Powerful Free FTP Software for Firefox Power Users

What makes FireFTP unique is the fact that it is not a standalone software but a browser add-on for Mozilla Firefox. This makes it a convenient, exclusive choice for users of the Firefox browser and no one else. 

FireFTP is a free open-source FTP and SFTP client that lets you simultaneously browse the internet while transferring files between multiple servers. It allows up to 16 simultaneous transfers.

Installation is as simple as installing any other Firefox add-on; in literally just four clicks of your mouse, you can have it installed and ready to go. 

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you have the latest version of the Firefox browser installed before attempting to install FireFTP. You’ll have to click “allow” when your browser prompts you that Firefox is attempting to block the installation. 

FireFTP uses the traditional dual-pane display common to most FTP clients. On the left pane, you have the files and folders on your local drive. And on the right pane, you have the files and folders on the server to which you’re connected. 

Most of FireFTP’s functionality is drag-and-drop, and you can store several server login credentials in the Account Manager to speed up the process of logging in to servers that you access frequently. You can store other server information in the account manager such as default security/encryption settings. 

Other features of the software include on-the-fly compression with MODE-Z compression technology; support for 20 languages; SSL, SFT, and TLS encryption support; directory comparison feature; support for proxies, IPv6 connectivity, and FXP (file exchange protocol); support for UTF-8 and almost every other character encoding set; automatic reconnection and transfer resumption in the event of an unexpected disconnection; and detailed tutorials and documentation, among other features. 

Pricing

FireFTP is completely free to use.

Pros

  • Compatible with all operating systems that support the Mozilla Firefox browser
  • Integrates perfectly with the Firefox browser
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Allows for remote file editing
  • Open-source

Cons

  • On-the-fly compression may result in occasional errors
  • Does not support file transfers larger than 4GB

8. SmartFTP

A Great FTP Client with Support for Several File Transfer Protocols.

SmartFTP is a Great FTP Client with Support for Several File Transfer Protocols

SmartFTP is an FTP client that supports FTPS, SFTP, OneDrive, WebDAV, SSH, Amazon S3, Google Drive, and Terminal. It offers efficient, secure, and reliable transfers between your local computer and a web server. 

SmartFTP is intuitively designed so that it is easy for beginners to FTP platforms to use. But it also comes equipped with a lot of advanced functionality, too. You get advanced features like auto-renaming, speed limits, encryption, queue sizes, filters, and performance & priority tweaking. 

You have the option to choose between single-pane viewing or double-pane viewing. You can have several local and remote connections up and running at the same time, and you can have several uploads in progress at the same time. 

To allow quick connection to connections you use frequently, there is a handy dropdown list of recent connections in the top menu bar. You can set up your work area anyhow you like as SmartFTP allows you to turn content panels into floating elements that are not docked from the main program window. 

Additionally, you get superb control over your transfers as SmartFTP allows you to increases the number of worker threads for a connection in the Transfer Queue. And there is an integrated editor (in the Professional and Ultimate editions) for editing code in both live and local sites. 

SmartFTPboasts several other handy features such as server-to-server transfers, HIPAA 5010 and FIPS 140-2, 186-4 compliance, file/folder synchronization, task scheduling, site search function, connection and transfer logs, support for UTF-8, remote file editing, bulk rename, proxy/firewall support, and many others. 

Pricing

SmartFTP Pricing Plan

SmartFTP is available in three plans which they call Editions: Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. There’s a 30-day free trial of the Enterprise Edition after which you can opt for any of the plans. 

The Professional Edition will run you $79.95 for a one-time license payment or $39.99 per year. The Ultimate Edition costs a one-time fee of $139.95 or $69.99 per year. And the Enterprise Edition costs a one-time fee of $299.95 or $144.99 annually. 

Pros

  • Simple UI
  • Supports several protocols
  • Allows visual file comparison
  • Offers several license models

Cons

  • Does not support imports from other FTP tools

9. WS_FTP Professional

Best Windows FTP Client for Security.

WS_FTP Professional is the Best Windows FTP Client for Security

WS_FTP Professional is an FTP client with 40 million users across the world. Arguably, its popularity could be attributed to the fact that it provides easy customization as well as advanced encryption and admin tools. 

On the security side, WS_FTP protects files at every point during the transfer process, including before and after the transfer process. It applies several forms of encryption to ensure that all your files are protected. 

Besides encryption, WS_FTP has some other file protection tricks up its sleeve. First off, you can set a schedule for WS_FTP to automatically back up your files and send them to remote servers so that you never have to worry about losing them. Or you can compress the backups and store them on USB drives or any other device of your choice. 

If it isn’t obvious already, security is the main benefit and selling point of WS_FTP. In addition to file encryption and automatic backups, it offers signature keys, FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography, and many other security features. 

Using WS_FTP, all your file transfers are guaranteed to get to the right folders and you can sync them with a wide range of devices and servers. Additionally, you can compress your files directly from WS_FTP. 

You can set up email notifications to alert you or anyone else when a transfer occurs. And you can get premium customer support, not just by sending an email to the developers or via a community forum. This is a feature that is not very common with FTP clients. 

Pricing

WS_FTP Professional Pricing Plan

WS_FTP is a premium FTP client for Windows. In other words, you’ll have to shell out a few bucks to use it. A single-user license costs $49.95 but if you opt for the Professional plan at $89.95, you get community and email support.

Pros

  • Security is top-notch
  • Offers automatic file backups to remote servers to guarantee the safety of your files

Cons

  • Paid
  • Only available for Windows

10. Commander One Pro

Best FTP Client with Native Compression Support.

Commander One Pro is the Best FTP Client with Native Compression Support

Commander One Pro is a reliable and reasonably fast FTP client that supports transfers with FTP, FTTPS, and SFTP. It supports multiple connections and tabbed browsing for a more efficient workflow. 

The platform supports multiple languages such as Polish and French. You have the option to customize the display by choosing from a wide range of color schemes. And the client offers native file compression with support for formats like ZIP, RAR, and TGZ files.

Besides, you can directly mount an Android or iOS device to the platform to manage files on your smartphone or other mobile devices. 

Commander One PRO allows you to see what media items are contained in your files which can help analyze metadata. Plus, you can speed up the process of finding files and improve your workflow by assigning hotkeys. 

Commander One has a free version for people with lightweight requirements. But the premium version is affordable and very much worth the upgrade, offering a ton of unique features. 

There’s a new release from the developers called Commander One PRO 2. It adds many cloud syncing options such as Amazon S3, Box Cloud, and Backblaze B2. These servers are all linked by a beautiful connection manager, giving you access to all your connections in a single location — even if you have 10 connections running simultaneously.

Pricing

Commander One Pro Pricing Plan

As already mentioned, Commander One has a free version that works well for light work. But the premium Commander One PRO offers a far superior feature set for only $29.99 for a personal license, $99.99 for a 5-person team, or $149.99 for a 50-person team. 

Pros

  • Offers native file compression
  • Allows file management on mobile devices

Cons

  • Not free, although reasonably-priced
  • Not a great fit for Windows or Linux users

11. FlashFXP

A Leading Windows-based FTP and FXP Client.

FlashFXP is a Leading Windows based FTP and FXP Client

Developed and distributed by OpenSIght Software, FlashFXP is a leading, high-quality FTP and FXP client with a bunch of amazing features. It offers high-speed FTP transfers and even allows you to regulate the speed of your transfers. 

The software provides client-to-client and server-to-server transfers which is pretty rare among FTP software. In addition to FTP and FXP, it supports file transfers on the SFTP protocol. And to secure file transfers, it uses the SSH and SSL/TLS protocols. 

You have the option to password-protect the client, and the software boasts on-the-fly compression. 

FlashFXP offers a clean, intuitive and customizable user interface. If you run into any issues, there are plenty of text and video tutorials on the Help page. Moreover, you can see previews of the contents of folders and also bookmark folders for easy searching. You can access server files remotely with several right-click options.

Pricing

FlashFXP lifetime license Fee

FlashFXP is available at $29.95 for a lifetime license with free updates and upgrades for life.

Pros

  • Includes SSL/TLS security

Cons

  • Only available for Windows

12. Core FTP LE

Best FileZilla Alternative for Windows. 

Core FTP LE is the Best FileZilla Alternative for Windows

With its basic interface and dual-pane layout, Core FTP LE bears a striking resemblance to FileZilla. The main difference is that Core FTP LE is dedicated exclusively to Windows and there are a few features you can’t find on FileZilla. 

It provides modules for drag-and-drop transfers and a status section for viewing the status of your file transfers. You can execute most of your tasks from a single window, which means that you can search for files and bookmark items that are most important to you. 

You can find many support resources on the website or speak with other community members if you run into any issues. You can email the developer with your questions. The website includes an FAQ section, feature list, and documentation. 

Even with the free version, you get support for FTPS, TLS, and SFTP. You get better transfer rates and improved workflows due to the inbuilt Mode Z compression. And in the event of a failure, Core FTP LE automatically retries transfers. 

Finally, you can create desktop shortcuts, transfer multiple files simultaneously, and manage file permissions at the admin level. 

Pricing

The main features of Core FTP LE are free but you can upgrade to the Pro version for $24.95

Pros 

  • The most important features are free
  • Drag-and-drop interface

Cons

  • Only available on Windows

13. CloudMounter

Mount Your Cloud Accounts on Your Desktop.

CloudMounter allows to Mount Cloud Accounts on Desktop

Eltima Software’s CloudMounter is a Mac-only FTP client that allows you to mount cloud storage on your desktop. If you only want to access a single cloud Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive account, the software is free to download as a menu bar utility. 

To access multiple cloud storage options or other services — such as FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDAV, or Box — you’ll need to pay for the premium offerings. 

When you install CloudMounter and log in to one of your cloud accounts, your remote storage is displayed as a volume on your desktop with a colorful icon. You can drag and drop files just like a local hard drive. 

The speed of the transfers depends completely on the speed of your internet connection. Smaller files are generally more stable than large ones. 

CloudMounter displays status icons in the Finder so that users can see which files are on the queue, transferring, or had errors while transferring (errors are pretty rare, though). Also, mounted cloud volumes are automatically displayed in the Finder sidebar like regular drives. 

One thing that makes CloudMounter a great option is the fact that you can select a custom location for storing cache files. 

Pricing

CloudMounter Pricing Plan

CloudMounter is available for free if you only need to access a single cloud account. For more complex needs, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. You can pay $29.99 annually or $9.99 every quarter for unlimited connections.

Alternatively, if you’d rather pay once and own forever, you might want to skip the Mac App Store and head right over to the Eltima website to get a perpetual license for $44.99. If you prefer to try before you buy, Eltima does offer a 15-day free trial

Pros

  •  Allows you to mount FTP servers and cloud storage as local volumes 
  • Intuitive and easy to use

Cons

  • Free version limited to one Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive account. 
  • Support for Amazon Cloud Drive and SMB servers unavailable
  • Reliability and connectivity can be iffy at times

14. CuteFTP

A Premium FTP Client for Windows.

CuteFTP is a Premium FTP Client for Windows

CuteFTP is a Windows-only FTP client created by Globalscape. It features an easy-to-use interface with industry-leading security and plenty of automation. The security features include a password manager, password authentication, and powerful encryption. 

One thing that makes CuteFTP stand out is that you get a lot of human customer support in addition to the standard online resources. There’s an online help file, a full knowledge base, and a user guide, and this is provided to you at a reasonable price. 

The customer support team can be contacted via chatbox or phone. So, when an FTP transfer causes problems for you or your organization, you know that you can reach live human support if you need to. This is one of the perks of paying for FTP software. 

You can backup and sync your site files. You can make transfers with FTP/S, SFTP, and HTTP/S. You can even set your transfers to run automatically. And the system monitors all your transfers and alerts you when something goes wrong. 

Besides, you can manage audio files via CuteFTP and create podcast RSS feeds. You can create scripts to automate certain actions and save time in the future. 

There’s a step-by-step wizard in the software to guide you through connecting all your sites, and the drag-and-drop interface lets you move files back and forth between servers and folders with ease. 

Bottom line, CuteFTP is a premium offering that offers advanced functionality and premium customer support. 

Pricing

CuteFTP Pricing Plan

CuteFTP costs $59.99 per year. In the years when the developer releases a new version, you can upgrade for $29.99. You can add in a full year of support and maintenance for an additional $30.

Pros

  • Offers superior support
  • Supports file compression and OpenPGP encryption
  • Offers OTP authentication
  • Includes an inbuilt wizard to help novices

Cons

  • No connection support for IaaS providers
  • No file comparison

15. Free FTP

A Worthy Contender Among Windows-only FTP Clients

Free FTP is a Worthy Contender Among Windows only FTP Clients

FreeFTP is a free and paid FTP client solution for Windows. Although the premium version is called Direct FTP, it’s made by the same developers and simply improves on the offerings of the free version. 

The premium version, Direct FTP, gives you access to the standard file editing and transfer tools. But it takes things further by offering a complete web design toolset for file organization and quick editing. 

You can edit everything right there on your server, and you get the highest performance with fast and reliable uploads. In all, you get small luxuries such as secure file transfers, file permissions for folders, and customizable syntax highlighting if you opt for the paid version. 

On the free option, you get super simple and fast uploads to your servers with a drag-and-drop interface and several other tools that both novices and advanced users will find useful. There’s a beautiful list displaying the status of all your transfers so that you can see exactly what has been transferred and what is still in the pipeline. 

There are simple and intuitive bookmarks and file management is done within the program for tasks like adding, opening, and moving files. There are great backup tools that allow you to create a ZIP folder of your website files at the click of a button. 

The platform supports secure file transfers via SFTP, SSH, FTPS, HTTP, and TLS. You can set file permissions so that only people that you want to see your work can see it. On the paid version, you get code completion with autosuggestion and completion for things like HTML tags and attributes. 

Also, with the history module logging all browsing and transfer actions, you can go back in time to locate a file if you forgot where you put it. There’s a status bar at the bottom of the screen showing whether transfers are going smoothly or if an error has occurred. 

Pricing

As already stated, FreeFTP is free to use. But if you’d love to get more functionality, you can upgrade to Direct FTP, the premium version, for $39. FreeFTP is supported on Windows 110, 8, 7, and Vista.

Pros

  • Full-featured free version
  • Reasonably-priced premium version

Cons

  • Only available on Windows

Features to Look For in the Best FTP Clients

Not all FTP clients have the same functionalities built into them. Some have scheduling functionalities while others don’t. Some can transfer files of up to 4 GB while others barely support 2 GB transfers. 

When trying to select the right FTP client for your needs, you must consider your data transfer requirements and decide if you need scheduled automatic backups of large files. 

Here are essential criteria to consider and features to look for when looking for an FTP client.

1. Supported File Transfer Protocols

No matter what your requirements are, you’re likely to need more than FTP. Vanilla FTP is not secure, so you’ll need to consider all the file transfer protocols provided by each client you’re considering. 

Some clients offer only the standard FTP/SFTP while others include more robust offerings with support for protocols like WebDAV, HTTP, SCP, Amazon S3, and so on.

2. User Interface and Ease of Use

A GUI is a must-have for FTP clients as they offer a better user experience than the traditional FTP utilities like cURL, LFTP, and tnftp. 

Drag-and-drop functionality is an important feature that can only be found in GUIs and that helps streamline the file transfer process. 

The tabbed interface is another essential element of the GUI that allows users to switch seamlessly between multiple connected servers at the same time.

3. Support for Cloud Storage

It is a great advantage to be able to perform all your data transfers within LAN, WAN, and even to remote cloud servers with a single client. Cloud servers typically use SSL endpoints and HTTPS for data uploads and downloads. Cloud service providers such as Amazon S3 also support data transfers over the SFTP protocol.

4. License Type

Fortunately, there are many FTP and SFTP clients available for free — such as WinSCP and FileZilla, which have open-source licenses. Others like Solar-PuTTY and FTP Voyager have proprietary licenses but are 100% free. But more often than not, you get the best service when you opt for a premium client like CuteFTP or WTS_FTP Professional.

5. Build Stability

You need to choose software with stable release dates, not something that will unexpectedly be or has been discontinued — like lftp was discontinued in 1996. Generally, the more frequently software is updated, the more secure, innovative, and faster it is likely to be.

6. Pause and Resumption of Large File Transfers

The 2GB data transfer limit is a bug found in several FTP clients. You need to ensure that the client you choose can transfer files larger than 2 GB and that it allows you to pause and resume transfers as necessary. 

In conclusion, your requirements are what determine what client you choose. And any which way, you want a client that:

  • at least supports FTP, SFTP, and SCP. 
  • comes with a GUI, especially a drag-and-drop interface
  • has a history of stable releases and regular updates
  • allows large file transfers, pause/resumption of transfers, and scheduling and automation of tasks

How to Use an FTP client

Here, we’ll guide you through the process of installing and using FileZilla to manage your WordPress website. Though the majority of the screenshots here were taken from FileZilla on Windows XP, most other FTP clients with a GUI have a similar structure.

Setting Up the Options

First, you will need these details about the FTP account on your server. 

  1. The FTP address of your website 
  2. The FTP username
  3. The FTP password

If you don’t have an FTP account set up on your server yet, set one up from your cPanel or whichever website admin tool you use. If you get lost or confused along the way, you can reach out to your host for help. 

You’ll need to register the FTP server in the Site Manager before connecting to it. Once you register it, connecting to the server is just a click away. Here’s how to register the FTP server. 

  1. From the FileZilla main window, click File > Site Manager.
  2. Click New Site. Then name the connection whatever you like (eg. My blog server)
  3. Input the FTP address for your website in the Host box. This is usually something like ftp://ftp.example.com or ftp://example.com if your domain name is http://www.example.com. DO NOT put a ‘/’ at the end unless you were specifically told to do so by your host or cPanel.
  4. Don’t put anything in the Port box. Use the default value of 21. You should only change it if your FTP account specifically requires you to.
  5. From the Logon Type box, select Normal.
  6. Enter the full username in the User box. It may be just an ordinary username or it may look like an email address (although it isn’t one). 
  7. Enter your password; remember, it might be case sensitive
  8. Click OK.

Connecting

Navigate to the toolbar of FileZilla’s main window. Select the down arrow of the leftmost icon “Open the Site Manager”. From the dropdown list, select your FTP server. 

Alternatively, you can start the Site Manager from File > Site Manager, select your FTP server, and click ‘Connect’. 

If everything is in the right place, you should see a series of messages in the top window of FileZilla, and in the large window, you will see a listing of all your files appear.

Troubleshooting

If you run into any problems, you’ll need to troubleshoot. Here’s how.

At the top area of the FileZilla main window, check the messages. 

  1. If there was no attempt to connect at all, then the FTP address you entered is wrong. A single wrong character can cause it to fail like this. Break the connection by clicking on the red ‘X’. Then navigate to the Site Manager to check what you entered and correct it as necessary. 
  2. If it says Incorrect Login or that the user does not exist or anything along those lines, you need to ensure that the account details you provided (username and password) are exactly what you got from your host. The password is case-sensitive, so you may want to check that as well. You can ask your web host for assistance if you need it.
  3. If it says ‘Could not retrieve directory listing’, you have to change the Transfer Setting. Navigate to your FTP server from the Site Manager and click on the Transfer Settings tab. Select Passive from Transfer Mode and click OK.

FTP Clients FAQ

What Does FTP Client Mean?

An FTP client is a piece of software that establishes a connection between a remote server — typically an FTP server — and a host computer. It allows the transfer of data and files between two computers over an internet connection or TCP network. An FTP client adopts a client/server architecture, where the remote FTP server is the server and the host computer is the client. 

The host computer connects to the server by specifying the domain username, password, and IP address of the server. After successful user authentication, the connection is established between both systems. The host computer can now upload and download data or files from the server. 

FTP clients can usually support multiple file transfers occurring simultaneously. Most clients can connect to multiple servers simultaneously.

Why Do I Need an FTP Client?

An FTP server allows you to organize the files on your server or cloud storage as you would on a desktop computer. You can provide access to other users, allowing them to download files remotely. 

You can set permission as to what other users can and cannot do with your files. If you send files to other people regularly, you might benefit tremendously from using an FTP server.

What’s the Best FTP Client for Mac Users?

Cyberduck is simply the best FTP client for Mac Users in our estimation. It offers a seamless experience on Mac, something that most other FTP clients don’t do. And it supports a wide range of cloud storage options, from Amazon S3 to Backblaze B2, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

What’s the Best FTP Client for Windows Users?

On Windows, it’s hard to beat FileZilla when it comes to FTP clients. FileZilla’s popularity in the FTP client space is not a coincidence; as already stated in our review above, it's’ been endorsed by developers all over the world and by WordPress itself.

What’s the Best FTP Client for Linux Users?

Again, FileZilla takes the crown as the best FTP client for Linux Users.

What’s the Difference Between FTP Client and FTP Server?

The FTP server is a device that contains your files and data while an FTP client is a software application installed on your computer or device to allow it to communicate with the FTP server and retrieve or upload files to the server.

Quick FTP Client Comparison and Wrap Up

The FTP client you should choose ultimately comes down to your needs. What features are most important to you? Would a free option be good enough for you or would you need a premium option? 

Whatever your needs are, you must compare the features of each option that’s available to you and choose the one that most closely matches your needs. 

These are our recommendations:

  • Our overall top recommendation is FileZilla because it is free and recommended by most developers and even WordPress itself for its quality. 
  • For Mac users, Cyberduck is your best bet if FileZilla is not an option for you.
  • For Windows users, WS_FTP Professional is your best bet if security is a major concern.
  • If you’d like native compression support, you can opt for Commander One Pro.

Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.