The Three Best Free FTP Clients for Windows
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FTP has fallen by the wayside as a file sharing method, but it’s still useful for PC-to-PC and PC-to-mobile transfers, and still the go-to method for uploading files to a web host.

A good FTP experience comes down to the FTP client app you use, so make sure you’re using an FTP client you like.

Before you dive into these third-party apps, you should know that you can add FTP servers directly to File Explorer How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client When you need to move files between computers, FTP is a great way to do it. And if you use Windows File Explorer, you no longer need a third-party FTP client. Here's how... Read More . This lets you browse FTP servers as if they were attached drives to your system.

But if you prefer a dedicated FTP client, keep reading. Here are the best ones you can grab for free — no need to shell out cash for a paid one instead.

1. WinSCP

There is no comparison: WinSCP is the best free FTP client for Windows. Despite its simple and easy to use nature, it packs a number of advanced features that can satisfy even the most demanding FTP needs.

In addition to FTP, WinSCP supports file transferring and remote file editing using SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV protocols. Regardless of which you use, it can synchronize local directories with remote directories.

The Three Best Free FTP Clients for Windows windows ftp client winscp

WinSCP integrates directly into Windows, allowing for seamless drag-and-drop, extra options in the right-click “Send To” menu, and desktop shortcuts to oft-used servers. It also has a built-in text editor that enables immediate editing of remote files (useful for tweaking HTML, CSS, JS, etc.).

For power users, WinSCP has a command line interface (full list of commands) and scripting support (batch files and .NET assemblies). There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s great for task automation.

And it’s open source! WinSCP is a prime example that open source software doesn’t have to suck 6 Myths About Open Source Software Debunked 6 Myths About Open Source Software Debunked Open source software is awesome, but despite the growing popularity of FOSS alternatives, many people misunderstand the nature of the open source industry. Do you still believe these outdated and disproved open source myths? Read More , and that it’s possible to get by only on open source software Can You Get By Using Purely Open Source Software? Can You Get By Using Purely Open Source Software? Open source software is far more common than you think, and a great philosophy to live by. Not convinced? The chances are pretty high that you can be productive with just open source software. Read More .

2. Cyberduck

Cyberduck is a simple but effective FTP client, best suited for the occasional need to transfer files. It isn’t bare-bones by any stretch, and it can certainly be useful for power users, but the interface is simplified. Heavy and frequent file transfers may be easier with a fuller interface.

This client is free and open source. It supports multiple protocols on top of FTP, including SFTP and WebDAV, plus easy connections to Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, Amazon S3, among others.

Cyberduck seamlessly integrates with any external text editor, which is convenient for remote editing of web files. It also has a Quick Look feature that lets you preview files without downloading them. Local directories can be synchronized with remote directories.

The Three Best Free FTP Clients for Windows windows ftp client cyberduck

But Cyberduck’s best feature is its commitment to security. It comes with a feature called Cryptomator, which encrypts file and directory names and smudges directory structures. In other words, even if someone intercepts your transfer, they can’t see what you’re transferring.

The only downside to Cyberduck is the donation prompt. You can hide it, but it reappears every time you upgrade to a new version (between once every few days or every few weeks). It goes away for good if you donate and register — a minor inconvenience for an otherwise great app.

On Windows, Cyberduck is available as a standalone desktop app and a UWP app from the Windows Store. We recommend the desktop version.

3. FileZilla

Our recommendation of FileZilla comes with a warning.

In 2014, it came to light that a fake version of FileZilla (versions 3.5.3 and 3.7.3) was making its way around the internet. The FileZilla “evil twin” was altered to steal FTP login credentials and store on a remote server.

FileZilla also pushes downloads through SourceForge, which fell under scrutiny after it was caught bundling adware with downloads. While there are worse places to download software The 7 Worst Places for Downloading Windows Software The 7 Worst Places for Downloading Windows Software Software can be packed with bloatware and worse, malware. You can catch malware, if you download your tools from the wrong source. These are the sites you should avoid... Read More , we recommend staying away from SourceForge. Once shady, always shady.

And lastly, FileZilla has long been criticized for storing saved FTP login credentials in plain text. FileZilla finally added an encrypted master password feature in 2017 (version 3.26.0), but it took over a decade of user complaints before they acted on it.

All that being said, FileZilla is a solid FTP client.

The Three Best Free FTP Clients for Windows windows ftp client filezilla

FileZilla is both free and open source Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More and supports file transfers in FTP, SFTP, and FTPS protocols. File transfers can be paused and resumed, connections support both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses IPv4 Addresses Have Run Out: Here's How It Affects You IPv4 Addresses Have Run Out: Here's How It Affects You We're out of IPv4 addresses yet we aren't adopting IPv6. What's the problem? How can we speed everything along? But most importantly, why does it even matter? Read More , and it can synchronize local directories with remote directories.

Notable features include directory comparison (see which files are new or missing), custom directory listing filters (create your own filter conditions), remote file search (with flexible filters and pattern matching), and bookmarks for easy access to frequently used directories.

An Important Note on FTP vs. SFTP

One of the biggest flaws of FTP is that it’s a plain text protocol, which means data is sent back and forth in human-readable text. This is a huge vulnerability because login credentials are also sent in plain text!

If someone intercepts a login attempt, it’s trivial to see the account’s username and password, let alone the contents of transferred files.

Which is why you should prefer SFTP over FTP whenever possible. SFTP, which stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, uses encryption to protect the data being transferred (both login credentials and file contents). Learn more about SSH, FTP, and SFTP What SSH Is & How It's Different From FTP [Technology Explained] What SSH Is & How It's Different From FTP [Technology Explained] Read More .

The good news? Most services that allow FTP connections also support SFTP connections. And when using an FTP client, the actual workflow is the exact same between FTP and SFTP. The only difference is that you choose SFTP instead of FTP when connecting.

Which FTP client will you be choosing? Are there any other good ones that we missed? Or do you prefer another file transfer protocol altogether? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: chrupka via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Ray
    August 6, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Depends really, I prefer to use WinSCP, but we have suppliers that send us images via FTP and for that we recommend them 'Windows Explorer'.

    It's built in, they don't have to do anything but create a shortcut on their desktop 'explorer.exe ftp://user:pass@address' which is good because most of them aren't allowed to install stuff.

    Plus they can just drag an image from where they store them onto the shortcut and it'll do everything.

  2. Sam Smith
    June 21, 2016 at 8:38 am

    A good list of FTP clients. However, I think FTP clients are definitely losing ground to other options such as web rtc. This is likely due to issues of security and speed. Businesses and confidential doc related transfers also tend to seek out other solutions.


    Sam Smith
    Technology Evangelist and Aspiring Chef.
    (www.innorix.com/en/DS)

  3. Bob
    December 19, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I just tried to download FileZilla, but Norton kept finding malware and wouldn't let me use it.

  4. ipnotistis
    November 25, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    FileZilla is a crapware now (since 2011). They utilized a wrapper in their .exe file and in some manner it is dangerous as it can copy your ftp passwords and transmit them in unknown location. Search a bit for this and bam! you will see what I say is true.
    You have been warned!

  5. D.M.
    April 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Shouldnt the title be two free ftp clients I only saw two not three.

  6. CrappyFileZilla
    January 12, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    WARNING! There is a lot of crapware in the FileZilla installation. I have used FileZilla for several years but will not use it any more. Now I have a lot of problems with my computer.

  7. Test
    September 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I use FileZilla, its really having good interface and lightweight.

  8. sb
    July 7, 2010 at 7:28 am

    ftp clients

  9. BalaC
    June 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I use AXEL (http://axel.alioth.debian.org/... wherein it supports accelerated downloading by establishing multiple connections.

  10. BalaC
    June 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I use AXEL (http://axel.alioth.debian.org/) wherein it supports accelerated downloading by establishing multiple connections.

  11. Ben
    June 29, 2010 at 11:50 am

    You can easily change the interface icons in Filezilla:

    Edit > Settings > Interface > Themes

    Then select the "LonE" theme and set the size to 48x48.

  12. Ben
    June 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

    You can easily change the interface icons in Filezilla:

    Edit > Settings > Interface > Themes

    Then select the "LonE" theme and set the size to 48x48.

    • M.S. Smith
      June 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      That helps a lot.

  13. Joeke
    June 29, 2010 at 8:22 am

    WinSCP for me too, also has the great functionality to duplicate folders on the server, so you don't need to download it and then upload it again to the different location. Huge time-saver!

  14. ops
    June 29, 2010 at 6:13 am

    I use Filezilla

  15. Prasad
    June 29, 2010 at 4:59 am

    I use WS-FTP which provide SFTP ( Secure FTP ) facility it's fast reliable and also generate log's automatically.

  16. Allemand
    June 29, 2010 at 1:51 am

    I prefer FileZilla because it is cross-platform so I can use the same program on different Os's and be comfortable.

  17. M.S. Smith
    June 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I'll have to check out this WinSCP, I didn't run into it when I was researching free FTPs.

  18. Helnes
    June 28, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Filezilla is the one I prefer

  19. Barnabas
    June 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    FileZilla and/or WinSCP!

  20. Pelowe
    June 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    yep, WinSCP for me too.

  21. RaduM
    June 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    WinSCP from my point of view is the most complete solution.

  22. Strodtbeck
    June 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Love FileZilla. . . especially the portable version--do your FTP via usb on any computer.

  23. José Scire
    June 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I use FileZilla:I love the ability to drag and drop files to my desktop. Other feature useful is that uses SSH to talk to an SFTP server. Another very good free FTP client for Windows is WinSCP.

    • Aibek
      July 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Another cool thing about FileZilla, it has a command line for FTP commands as well. Pretty handy.