If you need to transfer files, you have a lot of FTP choices on Windows. However, we'd have to choose the powerful, free FileZilla as the best on the platform.
- A highly configurable interface that supports drag-and-drop for easy file transfer
- Supports FTP, FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SFTP protocols
- Supports resume and transfer of large files over 4GB
- Tabs for opening multiple connections
- Simple bookmarking system for oft-used servers
- Configurable transfer speed limits
- Advanced search feature with filename filtering
- Directory comparison and sync
- A network configuration wizard
- Remote file editing
- Many more advanced features
FileZilla has just about any configuration option you can imagine. If you have to use FTP a lot, FileZilla will let you transfer your files in any way you see fit, as well as search through large servers to find just the file you're looking for. If you know what you're doing, you can even tweak a lot of the more advanced options to optimise the speed of your transfers. At the same time, it's remarkably simple to use, at least for how powerful it is. It can be a bit intimidating at first to new users, but with a few clicks of the mouse, one can pare down the interface to something more manageable. If you need more than just the occasional file upload or download, FileZilla is a winner.
Like we said, FileZilla can be a bit intimidating for beginners, especially if you have to root around the preferences. If you only need basic FTP functions, you'd probably be happier with something simpler like Cyberduck (which has a ton of awesome other features that, while less related to FTP, are convenient to have around). Also, FileZilla's interface, while configurable, isn't exactly the prettiest, and seems unnecessarily cluttered and ugly. It's not a huge issue, but again, if you don't need its advanced features, there's no reason to trudge through its interface when things like Cyberduck are around.
Cyberduck is the best alternative to FileZilla. Honestly, it's just about as good as FileZilla, but they both have their own perks. Cyberduck doesn't support many of the advanced features that FileZilla does, but it has a fantastically simple interface, is extremely easy to use (especially for beginners), and has great support for things like Google Docs, Amazon S3, Rackspace, and other cloud services. In fact, the only reason it isn't at the top of our list is because, in the end, its awesome features don't relate directly to FTP. That is, if you've come to the App Directory looking for an FTP client, you're probably looking for something closer to FileZilla. If you're looking for an easier way to manage some of your cloud storage with services like Google and Amazon, that's where Cyberduck shines. That's not to say it isn't a fantastic FTP client, it just isn't quite as feature-filled as FileZilla. Honestly, try them both, and you'll know which one fits your specific needs better.
WinSCP falls somewhere in between the simplicity of Cyberduck and the power of FileZilla. You can view it through a more traditional explorer-like view, or a dual-pane view that's great for transferring files between your computer and the server. It's got a simple session manager, and a built-in text editor which is pretty nice if you're coding. Personally, I'd look at FileZilla and Cyberduck before trying WinSCP, but if neither of them are your cup of tea, WinSCP might just be the balance you need.
FireFTP is actually not a separate program, but instead, a Firefox extension. It isn't quite as powerful as the others, but if you just want simple file uploading and downloading through the FTP protocol, it's a really convenient way to do it. Plus, it doesn't require installing another program onto your machine, which is pretty nice.
There are other FTP clients for Windows, but chances are you'll be more than happy with one of the above. If you've got a favourite on the list (or even one that's not on the list), let us know why you love it in the comments.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.