Best FTP Clients

The Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users and Everyone Else

Are you struggling to find the best FTP client to upload files to your servers? It can certainly be confusing. If you’re digging through your options, you may have noticed that the world of FTP clients is filled to the brim with “helpful” acronyms.

FTP. SFTP. FTPS. Those three alone are probably enough to make your head spin!

So, if you want some help making your decision, keep reading to learn more about some of the top free and premium FTP clients out there.

What is FTP and How Does it Relate to WordPress?

Ok, let’s get acronym definition out of the way. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s basically a standardized method of transferring data from your computer to your web server (and vice versa).

The very fact that it’s possible to use WordPress and not know about FTP is a testament to how far WordPress has come since its early days.

In the past, the only way to install WordPress on your server was to download the software to your computer, upload it to your server via FTP, and then configure WordPress there. Similarly, to add plugins and themes, you had to upload them via FTP.

While that’s no longer necessary thanks to one-click installers and in-dashboard plugin/theme management, FTP can still be beneficial to WordPress users because:

  • It gives you more control over the files on your server.
  • It’s easier to use for some bulk operations.

For example, what if you want to download a copy of every image file on your WordPress site? Maybe you can find a plugin to do it – but with FTP, the process is trivial (though the actual download might take some time).

What is an FTP Client and What Features Should You Look For?

To use FTP, you’ll need something called an FTP client. While there are other ways to get into FTP, unless you’re willing to stare at those screens from The Matrix, you should probably stick to an easy-to-use FTP Client.

It gives you a simple interface to interact with all of the files on your web server. If you can manage folders and files on your own computer, you’ll be able to manage them on your server.

When you pick an FTP client, you should give special consideration to these features:

  • Clean user interface – you’ll be interacting with lots of files and folders, so you want to choose an interface you’re comfortable with.
  • SFTP or FTPS – while these are fairly standard, I want to highlight them because SFTP and FTPS are more secure than regular FTP. Whenever possible, you should use these secure connections.
  • Automation options – if you need to automate certain tasks, make sure your FTP client can handle them.
  • Safe account storage – if you want to save your FTP account details, make sure your client has some safeguard to prevent hackers from easily getting access.
  • Cloud storage integrations – some FTP clients can also work with cloud storage like Dropbox and Google Drive. If you need those functions, make sure your client offers them.

What Are the Best Free FTP Clients?

For most users, a free FTP client will have plenty of functionality. Typically, it’s only when you get into advanced features and productivity for power users that you need to consider one of the premium options I’ll list later on.


Best FTP clients - WinSCP

WinSCP is my personal client of choice when it comes to FTP. I’ve bounced around a few different clients and finally settled on WinSCP because I like its simplicity.

If you’re used to Windows, the interface is pleasant and familiar. It also integrates with Windows folders, so you can easily drag files/folders directly from Windows to your web server, which is handy.

If you’re not a native English speaker, you’ll love that WinSCP offers a variety of language translations

And if you’re planning to store your FTP login information, you can protect it with a master password.

Some other features include:

  • Directory synchronization – good for syncing local folders with server folders
  • Integrated text editor
  • Portable installation – e.g. install it on a USB drive
  • FTP, SFTP, and FTPS support

Supported Operating System(s): Windows


FileZilla is a popular open source FTP client. I’ve personally used it and enjoyed it, though I found WinSCP to be more suited for me in the end.

One thing that makes FileZilla stand out is its support for resume and transfer for files greater than 4GB. Uploading large files can be a real pain without this feature. So if you find yourself uploading lots of 4GB+ files, that’s a reason to choose FileZilla.

Other features include:

  • FTP, SFTP, and FTPS support
  • Tabbed interface – good for multiple connections
  • Configurable transfer speeds – throttle your transfer speeds if needed
  • Synchronized directories
  • Directory comparisons – good for finding small differences
  • Cross-platform support

Supported Operating System(s): Windows, Mac, Linux


Cyberduck offers some advanced features that distinguish it from the other free clients on this list.

Whereas the other clients are strictly FTP, Cyberduck lets you connect to Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Rackspace Cloud Files, Backblaze B2, Google Drive and Dropbox. Basically, no matter where you need to access files, Cyberduck can help you.

It also offers easy browsing, bookmarking of visited servers, synchronization, notifications, and lots more.

Cyberduck might be overkill for a casual user. But if you need the advanced options, it’s a great free solution.

Supported Operating System(s): Windows, Mac


FireFTP is unique in that it’s actually an extension for the Firefox browser, rather than a stand-alone client.

If you’re already using Firefox, it’s a great way to add FTP/SFTP directly to your browser.

It supports directory comparison and synchronization, automatic transfer reconnect/resume, timestamp synchronization, remote editing, compression, and lots more.

Supported Operating System(s): Windows, Mac, Linux. But only with the Firefox browser.

What Are the Best Premium FTP Clients? Are They Worth It?

With premium clients, you’ll typically get more polished interfaces as well as more advanced niche features. If you’re interacting with your FTP client every day or need these advanced features, it might be worth paying.

If you’re just planning to occasionally use FTP to upload some files to your server, you should stick with one of the free options above.


CuteFTP offers all the basic features you get with any of the free FTP clients. But then it goes further with some added features that may make you want to pay the premium price tag.

First off, TappIn lets you share files to any mobile device. It’s cool, but not necessary for basic FTP use.

CuteFTP also lets you schedule your transfers, edit documents with a built-in editor, view thumbnails of remote images, and work with multiple servers at a time.

Finally, if you’re a podcaster, CuteFTP has a unique feature just for you – it can automatically create podcast feeds and manage the audio files that you upload.

CuteFTP offers a free trial. After that, it starts at $59.99 for Windows or $39.99 for Mac.

Supported Operating System(s): Windows, Mac


Transmit is a Mac-specific client with a slick interface and cloud integrations.

To get started, Transmit focuses on speed – whether that’s bringing up large file lists or deleting/uploading thousands of files.

It supports bandwidth throttling if needed but also allows multi-connection transfers for faster batch operations.

If you’re using Amazon S3, you’ll like that Transmit fully integrates.

And of course, it’s got all the basic features you’d expect like FTP/SFTP/FTPS and more.

Transmit offers a 7-day free trial. After that, it costs $34.

Supported Operating System(s): Mac


Formerly a free client, SmartFTP has now moved up to the ranks of premium FTP clients.

In addition to the basics like FTP/SFTP/FTPS, it also allows you to connect to WebDAV, Amazon S3, Google Drive, OneDrive.

It also has features like:

  • Integrated editor
  • Thumbnail previews
  • Visual compare
  • Auto reconnect/resume transfer
  • Multi-connection transfers
  • Bulk file rename
  • Scheduling (Enterprise edition only)
  • Custom commands
  • Store passwords with LastPass, 1Password or KeePass Password Safe

And lots more. SmartFTP starts at $69.95. But to unlock all of the features that I’ve listed, you’ll need the $149.95 Enterprise Edition.

Supported Operating System(s): Windows

Wrapping Things Up

For my money ($0 in this case), I would choose WinSCP if you’re on Windows or Cyberduck if you need something that plays well with Mac. FireFTP is always a good option if you use Firefox, but not great if you don’t.

And of course, if any of the premium clients tickled your fancy, they all offer great feature lists. Those feature lists are just likely overkill for most casual users.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means Nimbus Themes may receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links.

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About the Author

Colin Newcomer is a freelance blogger for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics.

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