The 8 Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users in 2016

Posted on April 5, 2016 by in Resources | 67 comments

The 8 Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users in 2016

WordPress started life as a simple blogging platform. 12 years later, its polished interface is barely recognizable from its earliest days, and every update introduces useful new features and functionalities.

Despite this progress, the WordPress dashboard still doesn’t handle everything. Take file management, for example – WordPress offers some file management features, but it doesn’t let you access your files directly from your server. This direct access requires an FTP connection, made possible by installing an FTP client.

But which FTP client should you choose? Today, I hope to shed light on this issue, as I introduce 8 of the best FTP clients for WordPress users.

What is FTP? When is it Needed?

FTP – File Transfer Protocol – connects your computer to your web server, allowing you to upload and download files.

However, when discussing FTP, most conversations are geared towards FTP clients. These FTP clients are small pieces of software used to establish an FTP connection, which facilitates the transferring of files over the internet.

Here’s another way of looking at it: on the computer you’re using, you’re free to move, edit, add, and delete files, right? The FTP client lets you perform these very same actions, but on the files stored on your server – think of it like remote access to your server.

It all sounds so simple, yet lots of non-technical folks find the thought of using FTP intimidating. This is probably because FTP clients aren’t equipped with the polished interface you’ll find with software like WordPress. See the screenshot below to see what a simple FTP client looks like – it’s not the easiest to navigate, is it?

FTP Screenshot

There is good news, though: many WordPress users – especially casual ones – go through their entire WordPress life without ever using FTP.

This wasn’t always the case, though – in the early days of web design, developers would have to upload files one by one using FTP. Long before modern CMSs, every page of a website had to be uploaded manually this way. Today, thankfully, WordPress handles this at the click of a button.

Of course, developers will always need FTP as it allows them to modify their website’s coding. However, for the casual user, FTP is used primarily for troubleshooting.

Perhaps the most famous FTP fix is the infamous white screen of death, commonly caused by plugin incompatibility. When the white screen strikes, you’ll find yourself unable to login to the dashboard to disable the problem plugin. Instead, you’ll need to use FTP to disable plugins one by one, so that you can isolate the incompatible one. So when things go wrong, don’t be surprised if FTP saves the day!

The 8 Best FTP Clients

Now that we’ve briefly discussed what FTP is, it’s time to move on to the meat of the post: introducing 8 of the best FTP clients available to WordPress users in 2016. Today’s list features options for both Windows and Mac users, plus it includes free and premium options to cater to all budgets.

1. Cyberduck (for Windows and Mac, FREE)

Cyberduck

Cyberduck is an excellent cross-platform FTP client, with Windows and Mac versions available. Cyberduck is free to download and, like WordPress, is open-source.

It ships with one of the most user-friendly interfaces, making it super-easy to browse and transfer files. Other features include:

  • Bookmarking functionality, making the file upload process more streamlined.
  • Integration with your favorite text editor.
  • Super-fast FTP core.
  • Advanced SSH, bolstering authentication and security.

Cyberduck also integrates seamlessly with several big players in the cloud storage space – Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and OpenStack Swift.

2. FileZilla (for Windows and Mac, FREE)

Filezilla

The name FileZilla probably needs no introduction. Compatible with all the major platforms – Windows, Mac, and Linux – this completely open-source software is one of the most popular FTP client of all. Launched in 2001, it’s held this position for the best part of 15 years now – quite the achievement. Oh, and you can download it without spending a dime!

FileZilla comes equipped with an impressive feature set, including:

  • Support for FTP, FTP, FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).
  • Drag-and-drop.
  • Site Manager with transfer queue.
  • Filename filters, synchronized directory browsing, and remote file search/editing.
  • Customizable transfer speed limits.

It comes with extensive client- and server-side documentation, too, helping new users to find their feet quickly.

*Note: Recently, some Windows users have complained that FileZilla installed malware on their machine. However, if you work through the installation wizard carefully, you’ll be able to deselect the malware option. Just be cautious, and, if you’re still concerned about malware, opt elsewhere.

3. CuteFTP (for Windows and Mac, from $39.99)

CuteFTP

CuteFTP sits alongside FileZilla as the best-known names in FTP. However, unlike Mozilla, CuteFTP operates in the premium space, with prices starting at $39.99 for the Mac version and $59.99 for the Windows version – free 30-day trials are also available. The price differential reflects the additional features found in the Windows version.

The latest version consolidates the Lite, Home, and Pro versions of CuteFTP into one package. This means that all CuteFTP features are collected under one roof, also making it one of the most reliable FTP clients around – and one of the most secure, too. Headline features include:

  • Support for a wide range of protocols, including FTP/S, HTTP/S, and SFTP.
  • TappIn, letting you share files between computers and mobile/tablet devices (Windows-only feature)
  • Drag-and-drop, supporting up to 100 simultaneous transfers.
  • Built-in text editor for seamless file editing.
  • Advanced password manager and authentication protocol.

4. FireFTP (for Windows and Mac, FREE)

FireFTP

FireFTP is another cross-platform FTP client, this time available as an extension for the popular Mozilla Firefox browser. Simply download the free extension by following this link, restart Firefox, and then enjoy FTP access directly from your internet browser. Features include:

  • FTP, SSL, TLS, and SFTP support.
  • Directory synchronization and comparison.
  • If disconnected, file transfers are automatically resumed once the connection is re-established.
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop, file search, and filtering.
  • Works seamlessly in your Firefox browser.

5. Free FTP (for Windows, FREE)

Free FTP

Free FTP does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a free FTP client. Built by CoffeeCup Software, it’s exclusive to Windows. It comes with a solid set of features, plus the interface is super-easy to use – the interface includes a dedicated pane for tracking FTP activity. Let’s quickly run through Free FTP’s other main features:

  • Works with various protocols, including FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and HTTP.
  • Elegant bookmarking functionality, including combo bookmarks.
  • File tracking means you’ll never misplace an important file.
  • Drag-and-drop.
  • One click website backup.

6. Direct FTP (for Windows, $39)

Direct FTP

Direct FTP is Free FTP’s big brother – it’s the premium, upgraded version of the software. Again, the software is Windows only, and this time, it comes attached to a $39 price tag. So what additional features do you get for your money?

  • Built-in preview function, letting you view the impact of file edits before hitting save.
  • Snippet library, for storing your favorite code snippets.
  • Image editing functionality.
  • Built-in HTML text editor, with auto-complete coding.

Of course, it also supports all of the FTP functionality found in the free version, too (see directly above).

7. Transmit (for Mac, $34)

Transmit

Transmit is the number one FTP client for Mac users, available for just $34. How does Transmit justify this price tag, especially with so many free FTP clients available?

One word: speed. The latest version, Transmit 4, blows Transmit 3 away, promising up to 25x the speed – and Transmit 3 was already pretty darn quick! It’s eye-watering stuff, and this could well make Transmit the fastest FTP client of all.

Beyond pure speed, Transmit can also be trusted to transfer files reliably, and also ships with loads of other cool features:

  • A stylish, intuitive UI.
  • Multi-connection transfers make it super-easy to transfer in bulk.
  • Supports FTP, SFTP, and Amazon S3 Cloud transfers.
  • Advanced server preferences.
  • Folder linking, improving navigation significantly.

8. WinSCP (for Windows, FREE)

WinSCP

If you’re looking for a straightforward FTP client, look no further than WinSCP. This open-source, Windows-only piece of kit avoids many of the bells and whistles found in competitor software. Instead, it focuses on the essentials: it’s lightweight, reliable, and super-easy to use. Other features include:

  • Support for FTP, SFTP, SCP, and WebDAV protocols.
  • Two clean interfaces.
  • Built-in text editor.
  • Semi- and fully-automatic directory synchronization.

Final Thoughts

And that completes our rundown of 8 of the top FTP clients for WordPress – of course, none of these clients are WordPress-exclusive, so, in reality, they can be used with any website creation tool.

When it comes to making your final decision, it ultimately boils down to the features that you need the most.

Casual WordPress users – who are just looking to test the FTP waters and do some basic troubleshooting – are probably best served by opting for one of the free software. As long as the FTP client is compatible with your operating system, you’re free to test them all out, to see which you like the best. (For what it’s worth, I enjoy FireFTP’s streamlined feature set, and the ability to use it on the go from my internet browser.)

For advanced users – particularly developers – the features that are important to you are likely to be far more refined. In this instance, I recommend considering one of the premium options – CuteFTP, Direct FTP, or Transmit. However, before pulling out your wallet, do some digging around on each software’s features page to ensure it fully meets your needs.

Have we missed your favorite FTP client from the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Article thumbnail image by Bakhtiar Zein / shutterstock.com

67 Comments

  1. FireFTP one of my favorite and easy to use..
    Direct FTP and Free FTP is new for me.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • I have been a User of ALL of Coffee Cup software from just about their very beginning. I am NOT an employee, nor related to their business,, BUT I will tell you, If you need EXCELLENT Software to help build or design or move files, you need to check them out! Great customer support, and Excellent Software to boot.

  2. FTP is from the seventies and still uses cleartext authentication. Don’t use FTP for your website. If you hosting provider doesn’t use SFTP or FTPS, you’d better hurry up and find a better one before it’s to late.

    • Why not ‘force’ the use of SFTP;

      If I recall correctly Dreamhost doesn’t allow FTP, at least via an FTP client.

  3. As Han said, SFTP is the way to go, not FTP. You might as well just leave the keys in the ignition…

    CoreFTP is another good one. They also have a free version, CoreFTP Lite.

    • I use and like CoreFTP as well

    • Yes – CoreFTP Lite is my choice on Windows, with FileZilla being my choice on Linux.

  4. My all time favorite FTP client is Ipswitch WS_FTP Professional. I’ve tried many of those you list here and have also run my own FTP server using SERV-U. Time and again when something else won’t connect or is dropping out for me WS_FTP connects and stays connected.

    Good list!

    • +1 there
      WS_FTP sustained my early web career and I’d be lost without it.

      For the forgot list, Lets don’t forget Smart FTP for windows (my current FTP client)

      • Wish there were a WS_FTP product for MACs. I’ve recently made the switch and miss WS_FTP. Not sure which MAC product to try.

  5. Transmit, many, many years.

  6. I use Total Commander’s build in FTP feature. It’s good for basic needs. I use Total Commander as my file manager on Windows and the interface doesn’t change when using as FTP client, that way I don’t need to become familiar to another program just to transfer files.

  7. One of the great features found in WinSCP that few if any of the others have is the ability to set a ‘master’ password. This allows you to safely store each site with the username and password already set so you don’t have to enter it each time; you only need to enter the one master password, which is encrypted for solid security. So convenient!

    • This is so IMPORTANT!!! Very few programs keep your usernames and passwords stored securely. CuteFTP is another program that stores everything with a master PW. Did you know that FileZilla stores your passwords in a regular txt file?? Crazy!!! Always check any program that stores your usernames and passwords to make sure they are stored securely!!!

      • How do you find out how they are stored?

        • On Windows they are stored under your Users/[NAME]/AppData/Roaming/FileZilla folder.

          I’m pretty sure a FileZilla update changed this so that it no longer stores passwords by default. Takes little time to open KeePass to locate the needed password.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      “master password” sounds like an awesome feature!

  8. Don’t forget Yummy FTP , real good FTP app.

    • +1 for Yummy!

  9. FTPing up sites, from the good old days of web development.

  10. I use FileZilla, myself, have have used it for years. I think CuteFTP used to be free (?) so I might have used it before it went premium. I’ll admit that at first the UI is intimidating (what UX? hehe) but you get used to it pretty quickly.

  11. Since forever been using FlashFXP and its FTP, FTPS, SFTP, FXP

  12. FlashFXP has worked flawlessly for me for many years and I consider it to be my best software investment ever.

  13. I use “Total Commander” and “FlashFXP”(it is easy, fast and safe)

  14. WinSCP is my top pick. Works for SFTP on Hostgator accounts.

  15. Where is FTP Voyager? The scheduling feature of FTP Voyager rocks and it works really well for stuff other than just WordPress development. When used with Serv-U there are some advanced features that you can’t find in any other FTP client/server combo. Voyager was doing SFTP before clients like FileZilla were even in diapers.

    A Serv-U / FTP Voyager combo is perhaps the most robust file transfer combo out there. Period.

  16. I’m using FlashFXP (not free but also portable) since several years, sometimes FileZilla + FTPRush (free + also portable)
    Thanks for all interesting informations on the verge of this posting.

  17. Currently using FTP Voyager. It used to be paid software but is now free! Has SFTP, multiple connections with coloured tabs, scheduled transfers, flexible UI, keeps connections alive. Dumped FileZilla for it because FileZilla always disconnected and gave errors when trying to refresh the connection etc.

  18. I have always been a filezilla fan. When I work in Dreamweaver, I just set up that FTP client, and pull the files in locally, too.

  19. I’ve used Fetch on the Mac for as long as I can remember. I never felt I was missing anything … quick and easy … but perhaps there are features I’ve overlooked.

    • Me too… and Transmit before that. But is has pretty bland at the time.

  20. One that should be mentioned here is YummyFTP on mac. It is really fast and I found it sync tools work better than transmit. I started using it years ago and I continue to have a loyalty to it for is SSH and SFTP abilities as well as Sync tools and editing.

    Just makes my life easy.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      A lot of people seem to be mentioning YummyFTP, I’ll have to check it out!

  21. Thumbs up on Transmit (Mac) as well as using the default FTP capabilities in Coda and Dreamweaver back in the day. I’m currently looking for new ways to update my website files using GIT or something simillar. My have times changed. Also, plus one on SFTP. I had one of my personal sites hacked once, and it left me feeling pretty bad…

  22. The title of the article is rather odd, since you don’t need an FTP app to connect to WordPress. You need it to upload/download files from the server that WordPress is running on. Whether you use WP or not is irrelevant.
    That said, any html editor worth anything should include a built-in FTP client: Coda, Espresso, Dreamweaver, etc., and should be able to automatically tell what files have been changed and only upload those.

    • I started with Panic’s Transmit but later bought Coda to integrate FTP and light coding in one package.

      Rarely use Transmit now ( even if it’s a little bit faster).

  23. The title of the article is rather odd, since you don’t need an FTP app to connect to WordPress. You need it to upload/download files from the server that WordPress is running on. Whether you use WP or not is irrelevant.
    That said, any html editor worth anything should include a built-in FTP client: Coda, Espresso, Dreamweaver, etc., and should be able to automatically tell what files have been changed and only upload those.

  24. I wouldnt call those the best sorry…. but yes as some other have said FlashFXP is probabaly the best one 😉

  25. I use Fetch 🙂

  26. Did you know you can also use Windows Explorer as FTP client?

    I use FileZilla, but if I am on a computer where no FTP client is installed you can just as easy use Windows Explorer. Just enter the FTp address in the address bar and you are prompted for the username and password. Not as much options as a real client, but familiar UI.

    • Mac OS X also has built-in FTP support

  27. Thanks for the list, I can say I am using Coffe Cup and its great, try that as well. so yeah, thank you for the list!

  28. Hi Shaun,
    just reading your post: FileZilla is also available for Linux. Don’t know about the others 🙂

    • Ah sorry, its in the text itself… Found it 😀

  29. No sign of CoreFTP. I have been using this for years

  30. You forgot WebDrive as well. Been using it for years and shocked it didn’t make this list. To the people speaking ill of FTP, WebDrive also supports SFTP and many other secure protocols.

  31. Is there any reason why SmartFTP missing?

    • Because it’s not that good.

  32. I do not know that I have the perfect answer, but I have used FileZilla since early in the 2000s. I had our core business in non-alcohol beverages, but I was also a senior executive or owner in Internet companies. FileZilla is easy to work with. They upgrade you with every revision they make. If you have comments to make, they enjoy them, but will tell you, if they disagree. Having FileZilla on one of my computers, has been a pleasure, and easy to use. I used some other programs in the 1990s, but I sure like FileZilla, and glad to have it.

  33. I’m surprised no one has mentioned ForkLift. I have no evidence of this but it sure *feels* faster than Cyberduck and is closer in terms of functionality to Transmit.

    • Yes i have done some test and for me at least Forklift is faster than Cyberduck or Transmit which was my FTP of choice before I made the switch to Forklift.

  34. Just wanted to add another thumbs up for FlashFXP. I bought it years ago and still get updates. It’s well-designed, well-programmed and, of course, does FXP in addition to FTP, which is occasionally useful. I’ve tried some of the other competitors above over the years but always come back to it.

    I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be in the top 8 (or top 5, or even top 3) list…

  35. I enjoy Krusader which is a native KDE client for FTP connections.

    It’s rather slower than Filezilla, but Filezilla somehow annoys me just by looking at it.

    Will give yummyFTP for OS X

  36. My favorit FTP – Ipswitch WS_FTP

  37. A bit off topic, but not so much :
    I like notepad ++ and its ftp plugin who give me the ability to tune some files “online” (CSS or anything else)
    I use the ” ” because the file indeed is DLed and UpLed but it’s pretty transparent.

  38. I’ll never say it enough, Filezilla puts your websites at risk, because, if you allow it to save your password, it stores your login:password@host:port information IN PLAIN TEXT in a fixed location on your hard drive.

    Picture yourself any malware in the world, any script kiddy playing with USB keys, basically anything managing to even briefly get access to your computer, anyone or anything can steal your Filezilla credentials.

    The developers are aware of this issue since, what, 2011, and officially don’t care: not their problem.

    So: if you use Filezilla, use Keepass or another password safe program. Or… well, don’t use Filezilla at all.

  39. WinSCP, for these and other reasons missed in the summary:

    – master password protection
    – synchronized browsing
    – folder watching and syncing, great when making theme edits to LESS files and have the compiled CSS upload immediately
    – the ability to ‘edit’ a remote file in your text editor of choice, and have it re-uploaded each time you save
    – saves state so that reopening a site bookmark opens both the last used local and remote folders

    So long as there is shared hosting, there is a need for http://FTP...

  40. As a long time user (and a Mac user) I use Transmit… I started with version 1 or 2 and have never looked back. FTP (which I don’t use), SFTP, S3, WebDAV (do folks use that anymore?) are all built in.

    Mac users: give it a try.

  41. I’ve used Fetch for years. Not the best when it comes to functionality and passing commands, but for ease of use, its an extremely clean UI with no distractions.

  42. Thanks. Please Tell me Which one is Number 1 and User Friendly. Because I use this with my Employees

  43. what about commander one for mac?

  44. With software moving more and more to the cloud, it makes sense to be able to access FTP from any device, anywhere. Monsta FTP lets you do exactly this.

  45. Definitely Webdrive. I use it with WordPress very successfully, and its a good productivity tool, since it lets you map your wordpress site like a drive. You can just edit the files on your WordPress site instead of uploading and downloading everything. It also connects to other sites like S3 and Sharepoint.

437,821 Customers Are Already Building Amazing Websites With Divi. Join The Most Empowered WordPress Community On The Web

We offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so joining is Risk-Free!

Sign Up Today

Pin It on Pinterest