You visualize what you want to achieve, identify the necessary pieces, and put them altogether from the ground up. The primary challenge, however, is ensuring that everything fits functionally and seamlessly together.
In this post, we will compare the top FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients you can use for your WordPress site.
What are FTP Clients?
The use of FTP clients is one of the lesser-known topics in modern web development, particularly in the WordPress community. This is mainly because content management systems have dramatically simplified the site-building process.
In the past, developers required an FTP client to upload files to their web server and make them accessible to users – from image assets to the code of every single page.
Today, all you need to do is log in to your WordPress dashboard, pick a theme, and create content using the intuitive visual interface. It’s also easier to add functionalities and maintain your site with the help of plugins, which can be directly installed from the official WordPress repository.
As long as you handle code with care and keep your resources updated, a CMS should be able to execute these tasks like clockwork. But if you’re the type of developer who likes out-of-the-box ideas and grows through trial and error, you may encounter certain errors that will lock you out of your CMS. This leaves you with no choice but to use an FTP client and deal with the issue manually.
Without further ado, below are the top FTP clients you should consider for your WordPress site:
CyberDuck is undoubtedly one of the most popular FTP clients to date, and it’s not hard to see why. In addition to its easy-to-use interface, its website also offers plenty of learning resources and informative blog posts that are invaluable for beginners.
With CyberDuck, everything you can ask for in an FTP client can be obtained for free. Unlike other FTP clients that require a paid version for additional features, CyberDuck makes 100% of its profits through donations and display ads on their site.
Drag-and-Drop Bookmarking – Bookmarking is a standard feature that enables developers to organize their FTP accounts. With CyberDuck, the bookmarking feature utilizes a drag and drop interface – taking ease-of-use to all new levels.
Cryptomator – Another reason to choose CyberDuck is that it supports SFTP (Secure SSH File Transfer Protocol). But even if you wish to stick with FTP, you can still secure your data with the Cryptomator app, which allows you to create encrypted vaults on any web server or cloud storage platform.
External Editor Integration – If you are accustomed to using a specific editor application, you can easily plug it into the CyberDuck infrastructure. This streamlines all your code and content editing tasks.
The FTP client available from CoffeeCup is split into two versions: “Direct” FTP and “Free” FTP. As the name suggests, the latter is completely free to use. However, it lacks several key features like the built-in code editor, snippet library, file permissions, and image viewer.
Still, Free FTP is still a solid choice if you’re looking for a straightforward way to access your server files. It also supports more secure versions of FTP, including but not limited to SFTP and FTPS (File Transfer Protocol – Secure).
Status Bar – Free FTP comes with a real-time status bar that displays any ongoing process as well as information on the currently selected file(s). This prevents you from modifying, deleting, or moving multiple files by accident.
Code Completion – It’s worth noting that the built-in editor for the paid version comes with an auto-complete feature. Not only will this save you time, but it will also prevent syntax errors that may cause needless head-scratching.
Make ZIP Archive – In case you need to back up your site, you can take advantage of Free FTP’s one-click archival to create ZIP backups into local drives. Doing so ensures you can quickly recover from misconfigurations and corrupted files with ease.
At first look, the user interface of FileZilla may appear intimidating, but it’s surprisingly straightforward to learn and use. It’s one of the few FTP clients that work in operating systems apart from Windows and Mac OS, which is why it’s preferred among web development veterans for the past 15 years.
Take note that there have been reports of malware coming with FileZilla, but those were caused by fake versions that are circulating from external download sites. That said, only download the client from the official website and run a virus scan before installation.
Comprehensive Site Manager – FileZilla works with a site manager that lets you save information on your FTP site. It has the option for encrypting FTP connections, using login credentials, and specifying SFTP connections.
Custom Transfer Speed Limits – If you’re worried about FTP transfers hogging all your internet bandwidth, you can set transfer speed limits from within FileZilla’s settings page. Simply go to ‘Edit’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Transfers’ and tick “Enable speed limits”.
If you need a seamless way of switching between your CMS and FTP client, then you should consider a browser-based extension like FireFTP. Built for Mozilla Firefox, it makes it possible for you to manage your FTP account, use WordPress, and browse the internet – all from a single location.
FireFTP is an obvious choice for web developers who also use Firebug, another Firefox extension that lets you debug and modify a website’s code in real time. And despite being a lightweight, browser extension, it doesn’t fall short regarding features and performance.
Browser-Based – As a browser extension, you can start using FireFTP within moments. Only install the add-on straight from the Firefox extensions library, and you’re good to go.
Automatic Reconnection and Transfer Resume – In case you lose connection with an ongoing transfer, FireFTP automatically resumes it as soon as an internet connectivity is re-established.
Fast Search and Filters – The FireFTP interface includes a unified search and filter bar that scans your both local and remote directories simultaneously. It supports advanced search parameters such as the minus sign (–) for file exclusions, the plus sign (+) for required items, and quotations (“”) for multiple-word searches.
Understandably, you may opt for something more visually appealing and organized as a Mac OS user. That’s why it only fits that you opt for a premium FTP client like Transmit 4. Design-wise, it’s a cut above the rest of the applications on this list. It’s also on par with CyberDuck regarding usability and user-friendliness.
The only drawback, of course, is the unavailability of a free or trial version. Windows users will also have to look elsewhere since Transmit 4 is only available for the Mac OS.
High-Speed Transfers – As a premium FTP client, Transmit 4 boasts incredibly high file transfer speeds, which clocks at roughly 4 minutes for 30,000 small files. The client also uses multi-connection transfers, which makes it easier to move a large number of files without compromising speed.
Folder Linking – If you use a similar structure for your local and remote directories, then using the linking feature is an excellent way to navigate both locations at once.
Custom Icons – This may come off as a trivial feature, but Transmit four lets you use custom icons for your “favorites.”
As a beginner in the world of FTP clients, then FireFTP and CyberDuck are arguably the best options. Not only are they easy to use, they still offer an array of advanced features to free users. Free FTP is also a good choice for beginners, but only if you’re not interested in anything else other than accessing your FTP server.
Experienced web developers, on the other hand, may find FileZilla helpful due to its multi-platform support. And lastly, for website owners that already have gigabytes of data online, then Transmit 4 gives you the best bang for your buck.
Article by Christopher Jan Benitez
Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer who provides small businesses with content that engages their audience and increases conversion. If you are looking for high-quality articles about anything related to digital marketing, then he's your guy! Feel free to say "hi" to him on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.