FTP clients are essential tools for anyone who needs to transfer files between their PC and remote servers. If you want to upload website content, back up important documents to an off-site location, or share files with a select group of friends via a secure server, the right client will make your life much easier.
Security is one of the most important considerations when you're looking for a great FTP client – particularly support for proxies and encryption.
The FTP client's interface is also important. A two-pane design is most common, but customization options are always welcome. The ability to pause and resume downloads is a huge benefit as well, as is automatic pickup of dropped connections.
With that in mind, these are the best free FTP clients available today. Your exact choice will depend on the files you'll be transferring and where, as well as your own level of experience, but these are all excellent tools that will serve you well.
Fast, secure and highly customizable, FileZilla is the best free FTP client
One of the best known free FTP clients out there, FileZilla has earned itself a great reputation over the years – and for good reason. If you're using it to upload large files to your website (or to any server, for that matter), you'll appreciate not only the secure transfer option, but also the ability to pause and resume uploads and downloads.
For anyone who works with multiple sites or servers, FileZilla's bookmarking is a great timesaver. The multi-pane interface might seem a little excessive to start with, but it's something you soon get used to, and it makes navigating remote sites a piece of cake.
What's particularly pleasing about this free FTP client is the fact that the interface is incredibly customizable, so if there's something you don’t like, you can probably change it.
This well considered design puts you firmly in the driving seat, and makes FileZilla the best free FTP client available today.
Review and where to download: FileZilla
2. Core FTP LE
With advanced features in a no-frills interface, CoreFTP is a close runner-up
A cut-down version of Core FTP Pro, Core FTP LE still has a great deal to offer, and it should be more than capable of handling your file transfer needs.
Core FTP LE looks a bit dated, but that's unlikely to be a deciding factor when you're picking a free FTP client, and there are plenty of different views to work with according to your preferences. What is a slight problem, however, is the nag screen that reminds you every time you start the program that it cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Some of Core FTP's features are exclusive to the Pro version, such as thumbnails, enhanced FTP scheduling and encryption and decryption, but Core FTP LE isn't short of useful extras.
With browser integration, remote file editing, pause and resume of file transfers and support for proxies, firewalls, and htaccess and htpasswd editing, it's highly accomplished free FTP client that's well worth checking out.
Download here: Core FTP LE
A tiny browser extension that fills a gap in Firefox's arsenal of applications
FireFTP is a little different from the other FTP clients in this roundup because it isn't a standalone application. Instead it is a plugin for Firefox, bringing FTP functionality to Mozilla's web browser. This is a bog bonus if you are an existing Firefox user, but is it reason enough to switch browsers if your allegiances lie elsewhere?
Although you might feel that using a browser extension as an FTP client would mean making compromises, FireFTP is on a par with all of the other tools in this roundup. The beauty of this particular FTP client is that it is cross-platform -- if you can install Firefox, you can install FireFTP. You can use it to manage multiple sites, and drag and drop support is present even though this is an extension. Importantly, there is SSL/TLS encryption and remote editing, as well as folder comparison for checking what changes you are yet to upload.
Download here: FireFTP
4. CoffeeCup Free FTP
A dependable FTP client from the people behind CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor
Although CoffeeCup Free FTP isn't aimed at power users, it has everything you need for day-to-day file transfers, including SSH transfers, file editing, and permission editing.
The FTP client's interface is customizable, but it is also plagued by ads that encourage you to upgrade to a paid-for version of the program. If you can turn a blind eye to this, you'll get on well with the program even if not every feature is completely intuitive. As well as more hardcore features such as the terminal, CoffeeCup Free FTP includes a great one-click backup option to protect your files in case of an accident.
Download here: CoffeeCup Free FTP
A powerful FTP client available in both standard and portable editions
One of the great things about WinSCP is that it is available not only as a standard, installable program, but also as a portable app. This is great for anyone who regularly finds themselves working on different computers, as the software can be popped onto a USB drive and moved from machine to machine complete with all your files and settings.
WinSCP is still being actively developed and updated, so don't be put off by its retro looks; it's a superb modern FTP client.
The name derives from the fact that the program support not just FTP and SFTP, but also SCP. Switching to Commander view provides access to a wealth of advanced options, but this does make the interface a little cluttered and overwhelming; it's a delicate balancing act between power and usability.
Download here: WinSCP