FTP fell 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 of uploading files to a web host. A good FTP experience depends on the FTP client app you are using. So make sure you use an FTP client that you like.
Before diving into these third-party FTP clients for Windows, you should know that you can add FTP servers directly to File Explorer. This allows you to browse FTP servers as if they were attached drives on your system.
However, if you prefer a dedicated FTP client, here are the best free FTP clients for Windows. Instead, you don't have to pay cash for a paid one!
There's no comparison: WinSCP is the best free FTP client for Windows. Despite its simple and easy-to-use nature, it offers several advanced features that can meet even the most demanding FTP needs.
In addition to FTP, WinSCP supports file transfer and remote file editing using the SFTP, SCP and WebDAV protocols. Regardless of which one you use, local directories can be synchronized with remote directories.
WinSCP can be integrated directly into Windows and enables seamless dragging and dropping, additional options in the "Send to" context menu and desktop shortcuts to frequently used servers. It also has a built-in text editor that allows instant 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 automating tasks.
And it's open source! WinSCP is a prime example that open source software doesn't have to suck and that it is possible to get by with just open source software.
Cyberduck is a simple but effective FTP client that is best for occasional files. It's by no means naked and can certainly be useful to power users, but the user interface is simplified. Heavy and frequent file transfers can be easier with a more complete user interface.
Cyberduck is free and open source. It supports multiple protocols in addition to FTP, including SFTP and WebDAV, as well as easy connections to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Backblaze B2 and Microsoft Azure.
Cyberduck integrates seamlessly with any external text editor, which is useful 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 best thing about Cyberduck, however, is its commitment to security. It comes with a feature called Cryptomator that encrypts file and directory names and blurs directory structures. In other words, even if someone intercepts your broadcast, they cannot see what you are broadcasting.
You will find that Cyberduck will prompt you to donate every time you update to a new version. Since Cyberduck is completely free and open source, adding a fundraiser is completely understandable. If you want to permanently remove the donation request from the free FTP client, you can donate and register, for which you will receive a registration key. If you are using Cyberduck as your daily FTP driver, support the developer!
Under Windows 10, Cyberduck is available as a standalone desktop app and as a UWP app in the Windows Store. We recommend the desktop version.
FileZilla remains one of the most popular free FTP clients for Windows 10. You can also find FileZilla on MacOS and Linux.
The main reasons for its popularity are the ease of use and the extensive tool set. It supports bandwidth controls, passive and active modes, authentication of credentials and data, and the FTP, SFTP and FTPS protocols. There are other useful tools like remote file search (with flexible filters and pattern matching) and bookmarking files and locations that are frequently accessed.
FileZilla has been controversial in the past. In 2014 it turned out that a fake version of FileZilla (versions 3.5.3 and 3.7.3) caught on on the Internet. The FileZilla "bad twin" has been changed to steal FTP credentials and store them on a remote server.
FileZilla has long broadcast its downloads through SourceForge, which was known for bundling adware with installers. While SourceForge no longer engages in such practices, FileZilla still does. As, Be careful when installing and make sure decline any additional software.
Despite the adware installation package, FileZilla is a solid free FTP client for Windows 10.
CoreFTP LE is the free version of Core FTP Pro, a premium FTP client for Windows 10. Although the premium version has some additional features (unattended scheduled FTP transfers, advanced file encryption and decryption, etc.), the free version is very well worth your time.
It includes full browser integration, bandwidth transfer control, remote file search, and automatic download queue with support for FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and more. You can easily transfer from server to server without involving your local computer, which saves you time compared to other free FTP clients. Automatic command execution is also useful.
CoreFTP LE isn't noticeable, but it does the job well. Remember that you can use CoreFTP LE or one of the other FTP clients on this list to transfer data to your Raspberry Pi 4.
The list of free Windows 10 FTP clients ends with FTP Voyager, a decent option with a throwback GUI. Those familiar with previous versions of Windows will remember (fondly or not!) The blue color and rounded, chunky keys. The user interfaces may have been updated, but the slightly aging look and feel are not holding FTP Voyager back.
With FPT Voyager you can connect to multiple FTP servers at the same time and upload them to the desired server. Tabs allow you to keep an eye on the FTP servers and easily switch between your connections. There are also options for dragging and dropping files, automatically syncing files between servers, scheduled transfer, and transferring files to specific folders using file extensions (such as sending JPEGs to the photo folder).
The inclusion of an FTP connection wizard is a plus for beginners, and you can save and load multiple configurations as needed.
FTP Voyager may look a bit dated, but it works where it matters.
FTP vs. SFTP? An important clue
One of the biggest shortcomings of FTP is that it is a plain text protocol, meaning that data is sent back and forth in readable text. This is a vulnerability because credentials are also sent in clear text!
When someone intercepts a login attempt, seeing the username and password of the account is trivial, let alone the content of the files being transferred.
For this reason, you should choose SFTP over FTP whenever possible. SFTP, which stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, uses encryption to protect the data transferred (both credentials and file contents). Alternatively, you can use another file transfer method.
The good news? Most services that allow FTP connections also support SFTP connections. When using an FTP client, the actual workflow between FTP and SFTP is identical. The only difference is that when you connect, you choose SFTP instead of FTP.
The best free FTP client for Windows 10
As you can see from the list above, Windows 10 users have an extensive range of free FTP client options. Finding the best FTP client depends on your personal preferences. WinSCP has an excellent set of features, is easy to use, and open source, so for me it wins.
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About the author
(591 articles published)
Gavin is the junior editor for Windows and Technology Explained, contributing regularly to the Really Useful Podcast, and was the editor for MakeUseOf's crypto-focused sister site Blocks Decoded. He has a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Writing Using Digital Art Practices Looted from the Devon Hills, as well as over a decade of writing experience. He enjoys plenty of tea, board games, and soccer.
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