Even though FTP is fading away for most people, it is still an important protocol for many web designers and developers. Over the years, I have used many FTP programs and I always come back to FileZilla because of its usability.
FileZilla is an open-source, cross-platform, free FTP client that is packed with a ton of great features, and is still easy to use. Is it the one for you? Let’s find out!
Installing FileZilla is pretty easy. Download the installer from filezilla-project.org and run the wizard. Once installed, you can begin sending and receiving files in seconds.
To add a website, click on the Site Manager button and a window pops up allowing you to input your FTP information.
The Site Manager lets you save FTP login information for multiple sites for easy connection later. It is one of the most simple and well designed website managers I have seen in an FTP client.
A Tabbed Interface
One of my favorite things about this FTP client is how easy it is to use. If you are at all familiar with FTP, you should be able to use it right away because it is intuitive and simply designed. Even for novices, FileZilla is straightforward. All of the icons at the top have tooltips that pop up quickly when you hover, telling you what each button does.
FileZilla has a tabbed user interface so you can connect to multiple sites at the same time. You can view and work with files on different servers without having to disconnect. FileZilla will add all your tasks to the queue and go through them very quickly.
There are also tabs at the bottom of each site window for queued files, failed transfers and successful transfers, letting your see where FileZilla is exactly in processing your files.
Finally, there is a quick connect bar that lets you easily connect to a server without saving the login details. This works wonders if you only need to visit the site once, say for a client or friend. You simply input the FTP details and hit connect, but it doesn’t save the site for later access.
FileZilla also supports themes so you can customize your user interface. It comes with six themes to choose from and you can increase the icon size in the toolbar from 16×16, to 32×32, all the way to 48×48 pixels. You can also download and install themes made by other FileZilla users.
FileZilla supports multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian and many more. You can easily switch to one of the 50 languages available in the settings.
Besides the tabbed interface, bookmarks is one of my favorite features. You can add bookmarks that point to local folders and/or remote folders for easy access.
A bookmark can either be site-specific or global, working for all websites. I tend to have my site files stored in various places, and the bookmarks help me get to different folders quickly. This is especially useful if you have a CMS installed on your site, giving you can quick access to your theme folder without manually clicking through all the folders.
The bookmarks feature is one that really stands out against other FTP clients. While some free clients offer a tabbed interface, most of them do not offer the bookmarks feature.
Another great feature is the ability to edit files remotely. You can temporary download a file and edit it with your favorite text editor. When you save the changes, FileZilla will ask you if you want to upload the file. This makes editing remote files much easier because it’s only one step instead of downloading, opening, saving and uploading.
You can also get a portable version of FileZilla to take with you on a flash drive, or use on a regular PC without spreading out the app data files. The portable version works just as well as the regular version and is also free.
FileZilla also supports transfer of large files (over 4 GB) and allows you to pause and resume uploads and downloads. You can also drag and drop files instead of right-clicking.
More advanced features include a network configuration wizard, allowing you to easily make changes to your network settings for FileZilla. This is something I have never had to use, but is a nice feature available for those who want to tweak settings, but are not sure where to start. You can also configure transfer speed limits very easily so you don’t overwhelm your computer or the server.
FileZilla also has directory comparison, making it very easy for you to compare files.
FileZilla is quick to install, quick to load and quick to run. It is one Windows app that has never used too much of my CPU or monopolized my resources.
In addition to the tabbed interface, FileZilla lets you open multiple instances of the program without getting mad at you. I’ve had as many as four FileZilla windows going at once so I can simultaneously connect to multiple servers without waiting on the others’ queues.
While FileZilla isn’t the only free FTP client for Windows, it is certainly the best in my opinion. Overall, FileZilla offers more features than other clients, such as the tabbed interface, bookmarks and large file transfers. The program is also dead simple to setup and get started. If you’re looking for a feature laden, easy to use FTP client, FileZilla definitely warrants a look.