5 Free FTP Client Software to Use

on May 30, 2020

The evolution of cybersecurity threats, cloud-based storage systems, and safety standards have fundamentally altered how server administrators balance client capabilities, user interfaces, and security concerns using FTP. Nowadays, administrators look for an advanced File Transfer Protocol (FTP) capable of helping businesses adapt to the current needs of file sharing. FTP is a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) using a computer and an active hosting server to establish a data transfer connection. FTP servers help businesses in peer-to-peer data transfer, and organizations use it to do the following:

  • To allow IT teams to transfer data back to disaster recovery sites
  • To allow employees to share files across locations
  • To allow webmaster teams to transfer web application files, webpages, and images to their web server
  • To allow employees to securely share files with coworkers and external business partners

Because cloud-based services are more prevalent now, most internet users don’t require an FTP server to share files. However, due to its simplicity and ease of use, FTP is still a part of the daily lives of many IT users and web developers.

Top 5 FTP Server Tools

Server administrators can choose a free or commercial FTP server tool based on their business requirements. A free FTP server tool is perfect for businesses requiring fewer administrative functionalities and security measures. This type of tool serves the occasional or moderate need for file transfers. Commercial FTP server tools, on the other hand, are beneficial for corporations requiring a better directory, rigorous encryption, file visibility, and intensive management capabilities. This type of FTP server tool is a smart investment, as it saves a huge amount of money in the long run and prevents data breaches and security issues. Outlined below are the top free FTP server tools frequently used by enterprises.

  1. Serv-U FTP Server
  2. FileZilla
  3. Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server
  4. Cyberduck
  5. WinSCP

1. Serv-U FTP Server

screenshot of solarwinds serv-u ftp server's file management window

SolarWinds® Serv-U® FTP Server is one of the best file transfer tools used by businesses to share large files from the web and mobile devices using FTP and FTPS. The Serv-U FTP Server client supports file transfer over IPv4 and IPv6 networks, ensuring the data is transferred through a secured gateway and making the FTP a more reliable and versatile platform. Serv-U FTP Server also offers an intuitive interface, allowing users to easily view, upload, and download files from any medium.

Besides file transfer, the tool offers a host of other benefits, such as management and compliance. Administrators get full control over settings, including bandwidth usage, consumption, and throttling; storage access; and permissions management. The Serv-U Gateway add-ons offer defense-in-depth security, ensuring the data isn’t saved in DMZ to comply with regulatory frameworks like PCI DSS. It doesn’t solely rely on encryption when it comes to securing sensitive business information. Serv-U FTP Server defines concurrent session limits, can block IP addresses whose sessions are timed out, and can request reverse DNS. Other management settings of Serv-U include automated file movement, deletion after the transfer of files, quota settings, enhanced performance, and an organized directory. The tool offers a 14-day free trial period, and you can purchase premium options later.

2. FileZilla

screenshot of filezilla ftp uploading folders into a web host

FileZilla is a popular open-source file transfer tool for Windows, Linux, and macOS. It’s a user-friendly, intuitive, and powerful tool using tabbed browsing for simultaneous server connections. This tool makes file transfer easier by providing live logs of the files (including remote files) and displaying the status of every action taken for each file. It also possesses some unique features, such as bookmarking for easier file access, the ability to resume and transfer big files, drag and drop functionality, and more. It also offers the following:

  • FTP proxy
  • Passive and active mode
  • Bandwidth control and concurrent transfer limits
  • Import/export FTP server details
  • Public key authentication
  • Custom log file location and size limit
  • Custom editor for editing particular file types
  • Ability to allocate space before file transfers
  • Quick deletion of private connection data
  • Ability to compare directories

3. Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server

screenshot of solarwinds serv-u mft downloading an image file from a folder

SolarWinds Serv-U Managed File Transfer (MFT) Server is an extended version of FTP for the mobile era. It provides secure access to an organization’s critical information from anywhere and at any time. It includes all the features of Serv-U FTP and offers automation, centralized file transfer and management, and oversight capabilities. It transfers files using FTP, FTPS, HTTP/S, or SFTP on networks like IPv4 and IPv6. Additionally, it fulfills regulatory compliance needs for SOX, HIPAA, FISMA, and PCI DSS. You can easily integrate the tool with LDAP servers and Active Directory, helping admins customize limits and grant permissions. It can also help troubleshoot errors and maintain records for external audits with its monitoring capabilities, which allow it to track file servers and domain activity logs in the management console. Serv-U MFT Server offers a 14-day free trial version with complete functionality.

4. Cyberduck

screenshot of cyberduck showing filenames by last modified date

Cyberduck is an open-source FTP client software capable of serving Windows and Mac. With its manual editing capabilities, administrators can easily change the text, binary file, or security specs on a server. When it comes to securing an organization’s data, it provides end-to-end encryption of files, directories, and individual file content. It can be used by smaller businesses needing limited features and a free tool.

5. WinSCP

screenshot of winscp uploading files into a web host

WinSCP is a File Transfer Protocol preferred by system administrators due to its command-line capabilities and seamless protocol support. It’s an open-source tool designed for Microsoft Windows. Along with secure File Control Protocol, it supports Session Control Protocol (SCP). Here are a few additional features WinSCP possesses:

  • FTP folders can be bookmarked
  • Multiple sessions load as tabs for easier access
  • Multiple files can be renamed using batch renaming
  • Files can be downloaded and zipped directly from the server
  • Commander or explorer can be used for navigation purposes


Organizations have many options when it comes to choosing an FTP solution for easy file transfers, but having a reliable, flexible, and efficient tool is important. Each tool highlighted above varies depending on different factors such as file transfer, security, network dependency, and cost. When choosing the right one for you, don’t compromise on features like file editing, convenient file transfers, security, compliance, and user interface. SolarWinds Serv-U FTP Server and MFT Server are premium products for secure file transfers. They offer some unique features, including superior UI graphics, access rights management, and operability across protocols and operating systems. Moreover, these file transfer solutions offer free trial downloads you can utilize to make an informed decision about your file transfer needs.

Related Posts