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Top 5 FTP Transfer Applications

If you've ever read the install instructions of any theme or plugin you've purchased, you'll have seen one way to install said plugin or theme is via FTP, but just what is FTP? And how can you use it?

 

What Is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. As the name suggests, FTP is a method of transferring files between users, devices, and networks. Using FTP, you can access the server on which your site is hosted and get access to all files, as well as being able to download copies and upload new files.

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Before you even can start to think about using FTP, make sure that you have an FTP user setup with the correct permissions or it'll be a no go before you start. If you aren't sure how to create an FTP user or have forgotten the password, you can usually reset and create new users in cPanel. If your web hosting company doesn't use cPanel, you may need to ask your host about setting up an FTP user.

 

If you use a managed host such as WPEngine or similar you may see that they only offer SFTP.  SFTP is the same as FTP expect SSL secures it.

 

Many managed hosts and now even some shared hosts do this to improve security. It may cause some confusion as most FTP applications advertise as just that "FTP Applications" meaning if you're new to the world of FTP and the like you may be wondering if said applications will even work. The good news is they will!

 

In no particular order here are 5 top FTP Applications you can use to transfer files between your computer and website/server.

 

Transmit - Price: $34

Transmit is a specialist FTP application from the same development team behind other popular Mac Apps like Coda. With built in compatibility for FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 and WebDAV there's a protocol for everyone. With an easy to use file browser, connecting, uploading and downloading has never been easier.

There's only one downside to Transmit, and that's if you're a Windows user you won't be able to use Transmit, as it's a Mac compatible application only.

 

Cyberduck - Price: Free (donate)

Cyberduck is one of the most well known free FTP applications. And it's completely free! If you download the free version there is a prompt to donate, if you donate, you'll receive a software key to disable the donate prompt. Alternatively, Cyberduck is also available on the Mac app store. However, that version is priced at £22.99 as donate ware isn't supported by Apple on the App Store.

Compatibility with Windows and Mac, along with a huge range of functionality and protocol support. Add in out the box compatibility with Dropbox, and you have an excellent all round package that is free for anyone to use. If you can donate though you really should, Cyberduck is certainly worth it!

 

Filezilla - Price: Free

Chances are, if you've been building your website for more than 5 minutes, you've most likely seen Filezilla mentioned in forums, user groups and even official documentation from your hosting company. For many Filezilla was always the go to for any FTP needs, while it certainly still is a solid piece of software the interface looks outdated, and it's overall more difficult to use than the likes of Transmit and Cyberduck.

This isn't to take anything away though from Filezilla, it is cross platform compatible including, Mac, Windows, and Linux, comes available in multiple languages and has a great range of features.

 

WinSCP - Price: Free (Donate)

WinSCP is one of the most popular FTP applications for Windows, with support for both SFTP and FTP along with an easy to use interface. Perfect for both beginners and more advanced users with support for SSH and Putty.

 

Coda - Price: $99

Coda is much more than "just" another FTP application. Coda is a full featured text editor, perfect for developers, aspiring developers and tinkerers.

Coda has built in Syntax highlighting for every programming language you think of. Combine that with all the great features from Transmit including FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 support and more. Sprinkle a side of live preview, project properties and you have one of the most powerful applications for editing, managing and creating your website.

 

What is your favorite application to manage the files on your server? Ever had issues using any of the applications mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.

Jack Kitterhing is a WordPress developer from England. His love of WordPress began at age 11 when he set up his first blog. After a stint as WPMU DEV's Project and Quality Assurance Manager, he's now a Software Developer at Themeco.
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