5 of the Best FTP Clients for WordPress Users in 2019 (Windows and Mac)

There’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ll need to manage WordPress site files manually. Whether you’re a web developer fiddling with files every day, or you’re a regular blogger who needs to figure out site files after a crash, FTP ends up being a necessity. This is where the best FTP clients come into play!

In short, FTP clients are meant to give you a clear picture of the file structure and contents of your web hosting setup and allow you to transfer those files back and forth between the server and your computer.

Quite a few options exist in the market today, so we’re going to talk about only the very best FTP clients for WordPress users. This includes clients for Mac and Windows, along with some for other operating systems, too.

But before that, keep reading to learn more about what an FTP client does and how to use one.

Table of contents:
πŸ‘‰ What to look for in an FTP client
πŸ‘‰ Five of the best FTP clients for WordPress users
πŸ‘‰ Which is best?
πŸ‘‰ Bonus: How to use an FTP client

πŸ§™ Beginner's note: FTP clients 101

FTP clients have evolved over the years, but they still have a place in the world of website development and management. Sure, some of the clients might focus more on cloud syncing, but you should also keep those traditional FTP clients in your arsenal in case you need them.

At its most basic, file transfer protocol (FTP) connects your computer to your website, allowing for the transfer of files from that local (computer) environment to the site. Those files store all of your website data. In terms of WordPress, this would include files for themes, plugins, media elements, and site structure.

An FTP client is required in order to complete a file transfer. This is a computer application. The main window of an FTP client usually looks something like this:

On Mac:

filezilla mac

On Windows:

filezilla win

This whole thing may look a little complicated at first, but you’re logging in with your host credentials, which reveals your website files in one area (the right-hand side) and your computer files in another area (the left-hand side). Then, you can drag files from your computer into the proper location on your website.

Copying, deleting, editing, and uploading files is supported. An FTP client becomes rather user-friendly once you get to know the basic buttons and actions you can take.

πŸ’‘ Note: You don’t usually need an FTP client to run or manage WordPress.

It’s mainly used for installing or troubleshooting WordPress. In today’s world, most hosting companies (even the cheap ones) provide one-click WordPress installations, so FTP clients aren’t all that necessary for installation.

However, you still might want to learn how to do it. The main purpose of an FTP client in WordPress is if you need to locate errors or problems within your files when you can’t access the WordPress dashboard.

For instance, you might crash your site and have to work through an FTP client. That being said, FTP clients can also be useful for site installations and migrating your site to another host.

What to look for in the best FTP clients for Mac and Windows WordPress users

The best FTP clients all have similar features, but some of them have random, unique tools or better interfaces than others. In addition, you’ll want to ensure that your FTP client is suitable for your operating system.

As for the features you can find in the best FTP clients, here’s what to expect:

  • πŸ—„οΈ Support for different file transfer protocols such as FTPS, FTP, and FTP over SSL/TLS.
  • ☁️ Potential support for cloud syncing – like with Google Drive and Dropbox.
  • πŸ”’ A standard main window area with a host login, status report, and connections to the local and remote sites.
  • 🚚 Allows for the transfer of larger files.
  • πŸ”„ Provides a tabbed user interface for easily moving around.
  • 🧹 Filename filters for clearing out clutter and locating items quicker.
  • πŸ”Ό Drag and drop options for moving your files from the local site to the online site.
  • πŸ‰ Multi-language support.
  • 🚀 Settings to adjust your transfer speed limits.

It’s also nice to have cross-platform support for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. However, we’ve found that some Mac-only FTP clients look much cleaner than the cross-platform ones. The same can sometimes be said for Windows-only options. Basically, you may find that a Mac- or Windows-focused FTP client has an interface that you’re used to.

Five of the best FTP clients for WordPress users

 FileZillaCyberduckΒ WinSCP CuteFTP Transmit
PriceFreeFreeFree$59.99 and $89.99$45
Mac or Windows?Both (and others)BothWindowsWindowsMac
File Transfer ProtocolsSSH, FTP, SSL/TLSFTP, SFTP, SSL/TLSFTP, SFTP, FTPS, SCP, WebDAV, S3FTP, FTPS (SSL), HTTP, HTTPS (SSL), SFTP (SSH2)FTP, WebDAV, SFTP, S3
Cloud syncing?NoYesNoNoYes

1. FileZilla (filezilla-project.org)

filezilla

Not only is FileZilla one of the most recognizable FTP clients in the market, but it works on several operating systems, including Mac OS X and Windows.

The interface is simple to use and it allows for the transfers of files larger than 4GB. This is an open-source project that receives updates on a regular basis. Because of that, it’s also a free solution for those on a budget (or those who don’t see the point of paying for an FTP client).

 

FileZilla is also rather unique in that it provides superior support compared to some of the other FTP client options you can find. For example, FileZilla has a wonderful forum where you can chat with other users. The wiki is helpful, and you can even participate by submitting bugs or requesting features directly from the FileZilla website. FileZilla used to only be supported on Windows, so we feel it’s best on that OS, but there are clients for other platforms as well.

Windows or Mac? πŸ’»

Both (Also Linux and other operating systems)

Pricing πŸ’΅

Free

Features πŸ—οΈ

  • Bookmarks to start over where you left off.
  • An excellent site manager and area to watch as your transfers are completed.
  • Drag and drop tools to move files from one location to another.
  • Support for SSH, FTP, and SSL/TLS.
  • Many languages for people all over the world to use this FTP client.
  • A directory comparison that shows the different files side-by-side.
  • A remote option for file editing and file searching.
  • Filename filtering for when you need to clear out some of the other files or open a file to see its contents.
  • A transfer queue to see the status of all processes.

Who should consider this FTP client? πŸ˜ƒ

Not only is FileZilla free, but it has one of the more standardized interfaces you can find. I like FileZilla best for Windows users, but it’s worth a shot if you’re on a different operating system, too. It’s also a great choice for those who enjoy open-source projects with plenty of updates and quality online support.

2. Cyberduck (cyberduck.io)

cyberduck

Many cross-platform FTP clients don’t perform all that well on Mac computers. Cyberduck, on the other hand, is the exception to that.

It integrates nicely with both Windows and Mac computers, with pretty much all major features present in the Mac version. This includes everything from finding files on your computer to storing your login credentials.

 

Cyberduck boasts one of the most intuitive, modern interfaces in terms of FTP clients. It has the feel of a Mac product when looking at its design, so we can typically recommend it to anyone, beginner or experienced. One of the standout features is how Cyberduck connects to just about any type of server, including Amazon S3, FTP, and Google Drive. It’s also impressive that you can distribute content in the cloud, all with a simple connection to a content delivery network.

Windows or Mac? πŸ’»

Both

Pricing πŸ’΅

Free

Features πŸ—οΈ

  • Supports a unique range of servers such as FTP, SFTP, Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more.
  • Client-side encryption to secure all data being passed from local site to cloud site. Each of your files gets encrypted prior to the transfer.
  • No need to stick to one text editor when adjusting files. Cyberduck lets you edit files with your preferred editor. This works through a quick integration with the FTP client.
  • File sharing with the help of your web browser, a CDN, and HTTP URLs from Cyberduck.
  • Bookmarking to come back to things like your history, files, and imports. You can even import bookmark files.
  • Enabled caching for quicker browsing and “quick looks” through your files.
  • Integrations with common operating system technologies like Bonjour, Keychain, Finder, and Notification Center.
  • Support for dozens of languages.
  • Options to transfer, download, copy, and sync anything between servers.

Who should consider this FTP client? πŸ˜ƒ

This is a cross-platform FTP client that Mac users shouldn’t be afraid of. It’s worth testing out since it’s free, and you should be able to quickly get used to the user interface. As for the features, I like Cyberduck for those interested in connecting to more unique servers, like Azure or Google Cloud Storage. It’s also a great choice for distributing content on the cloud.

3. WinSCP (winscp.net)

winscp

WinSCP skips the whole idea of a cross-platform FTP client and sticks strictly to Windows.

Many users love this because all development resources go into one operating system, and the interface tends to look more suitable for what Windows users are accustomed to. WinSCP is one of the more popular FTP, SFTP, and FTPS clients, as it allows you to easily copy files between your local and remote sites.

 

As of right now, WinSCP supports six file protocols, including WebDAV, FTP, and FTPS. The graphical user interface may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Also, the integrated text editor eliminates the need to find an editor yourself. In general, advanced users should be happy with all of the features included with WinSCP. Beginners might be overwhelmed at first, but it’s not that bad.

Windows or Mac? πŸ’»

Windows only

Pricing πŸ’΅

Free

Features πŸ—οΈ

  • File transfer options through FTP, SFTP, FTPS, SCP, WebDAV, or S3.
  • Directory caching for making the program more efficient and allowing for faster file transfers and browsing.
  • Encryption of all files to secure everything you’re placing on your server.
  • Options to change around the user interface depending on which tools you utilize the most.
  • Excellent integrations with all Windows applications and functions. You can also integrate with other applications like PuTTY, Pageant, and FileZilla.
  • One master password to prevent any type of decryption from malicious software. This also helps if you have several passwords that need to be stored. The only problem is that you must never forget your master password.
  • Admin restrictions that prevent users (whether people in your organization or yourself) from modifying important files.
  • A completely graphic-based interface that makes the browsing process more visual.
  • Translations into dozens of languages for global access.
  • Automation for all scripting and tasks.

Who should consider this FTP client? πŸ˜ƒ

I like WinSCP for Windows purists, since you know that all development goes into the Windows interface and not towards any other platforms. WinSCP is also nice for those who want that master password feature. It’s an added layer of security, and you’re able to store all your individual passwords with just one lock.

4. CuteFTP (www.globalscape.com/cuteftp)

cuteftp

CuteFTP is one of the best premium FTP clients for a few reasons. First of all, it has many unique features that you can’t find in any of the free FTP clients. For example, CuteFTP provides something called a TappIn tool, which allows you to share files from your computer to other devices like iPads and phones.

The major file transfer protocols are supported, and you can expect some top-notch encryption for security.

 

As we mentioned before, CuteFTP has a price tag, but this is often a great opportunity when you think about the additional features and customer support you receive. Think about it: none of the free FTP clients have dedicated support teams. You simply have to scrounge around the forums and the internet to find solutions. CuteFTP is owned and sold by Globalscape, which has a support phone number, email, and chat box.

Windows or Mac? πŸ’»

Windows (Older Mac versions can be found online – and you can share files to a Mac)

Pricing πŸ’΅

$59.99 or $89.99 if you’d like one year of maintenance and support. A free trial is also provided.

Features πŸ—οΈ

  • A comprehensive set of protocols such as SFTP, HTTP/S, and FTP/S.
  • Encryption through OpenPGP. This includes offerings for authentication of passwords and a password management center.
  • Remote site access. You can work with several remote sites at one time.
  • Remote image thumbnails for easier browsing.
  • Dragging and dropping of files – up to 100 transfers at a time.
  • A built-in editor for managing and adjusting any remote documents.
  • Wizards and tutorials for linking to new sites. This is all provided within the FTP client.
  • Audio file management and an option to generate RSS feeds for podcasts.
  • Excellent local file management features.
  • Backups and syncing for all of your site files.
  • Automated file transfers, with scheduling included.

Who should consider this FTP client? πŸ˜ƒ

Although the pricing may steer you away from CuteFTP, keep in mind that it’s only a one-time fee and you receive a multitude of additional features. Not to mention, you have the option for direct customer support. Consider CuteFTP if you’re on Windows computer and would like unparalleled security or unique features like transfer scheduling, podcast RSS creation, and remote editing.

5. Transmit (panic.com/transmit)

transmit

We’ve talked about our favorite Windows-only FTP client, but what about one just for Mac users?

Transmit is the answer to that question, since it’s a beautifully designed file transfer tool with integrations for lots of servers and a powerful user interface. Transmit frequently comes out with new versions (currently on Transmit 5) so the speed, security, and functionality have improved quite a bit over the years.

 

Mac users enjoy how Transmit seamlessly merges with the Mac OS environment. Because of this, all levels of users are able to learn the ropes quickly. Having said that, Transmit is most popular with web developers. However, you don’t have to be that experienced to make the Transmit connections work for you. The modern code editor stands out as one of the cleanest on the market, and the file finder seeks the proper files in a rapid manner.

Windows or Mac? πŸ’»

Mac only

Pricing πŸ’΅

$45 – with a free 7-day trial

Features πŸ—οΈ

  • A dual-pane view that’s far faster to locate files than with a Finder tool.
  • Connections to 11 cloud servers, some of which include Amazon Rackspace, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
  • Classic file transfer in the form of FTP, WebDAV, SFTP, and S3.
  • A feature called Panic Sync, which is one of the fastest and most secure ways to sync your local and cloud sites. It essentially does the sync for you and allows for access to your files on multiple devices.
  • Syncing to and from a wide variety of devices. You can sync from local-to-local environments or remote-to-remote.
  • Incredible speeds with smart folders, improved multi-threading, and more.
  • A “Get Info Sidebar” which lets you identify information from files while browsing them.
  • A “Batch Rename” tool for selecting a large collection of files and renaming them all at once.
  • A “Places” or bookmarks bar that allows you to jump to your favorite files or folders with the click of a button.
  • The ability to create and manage secure keys without leaving the FTP client.
  • Support for Krypton and YubiKey.
  • A two-factor authentication login for added security.
  • Support for extremely large Amazon folders and files.
  • Drag and drop functionality along with copy and paste tools for all files.
  • Support for a handful of languages including Chinese, French, German, and English.

Who should consider this FTP client? πŸ˜ƒ

To start off, Transmit looks like one of the best FTP clients for Mac users. The price is low enough to justify the purchase, and you receive a wonderful Mac-based interface and some extra tools you would never find in a free FTP client. We also like it for those who are most interested in syncing with cloud servers like Google Drive and Box. The support for those types of transfers is stupendous.

Finally, Transmit is great for those who want top-notch security. With the Panic Sync, encryption, and two-factor authentication, you can’t go wrong.

Which of the best FTP clients should you choose?

Here’s another look at our side-by-side comparison of the best FTP clients for WordPress users and beyond.

 FileZillaCyberduckΒ WinSCP CuteFTP Transmit
PriceFreeFreeFree$59.99 and $89.99$45
Mac or Windows?Both (and others)BothWindowsWindowsMac
File Transfer ProtocolsSSH, FTP, SSL/TLSFTP, SFTP, SSL/TLSFTP, SFTP, FTPS, SCP, WebDAV, S3FTP, FTPS (SSL), HTTP, HTTPS (SSL), SFTP (SSH2)FTP, WebDAV, SFTP, S3
Cloud syncing?NoYesNoNoYes

As for our recommendations based on features, here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Go with FileZilla if you want the basics of an FTP client with no extra bells and whistles. It provides everything from drag and drop file swapping to a transfer queue, and remote file editing to filename filtering.
  • Go with Cyberduck if you’d like some options to sync with cloud services and traditional transfers. It also has great file sharing and encryption.
  • Go with WinSCP if you want a traditional file transfer options with a graphics-based interface and the ability to save all credentials under one master password.
  • Go with CuteFTP if you want to work with multiple remote sites at one time. It’s also a solid FTP client for unique tasks like generating RSS feeds for podcasts and backing up all files.
  • Go with Transmit if you’d like to sync with a wide variety of cloud servers. It’s also an excellent choice when trying to sync large files with multiple devices.
And that’s all we have for the best FTP clients for WordPress and beyond!

Bonus: How to use an FTP client

FTP clients can complete many tasks, but the main directive is to move files from a local site (computer) to your WordPress site.

To do so, you need to have an FTP username and a password for that WordPress site. Where do you find this? The credentials are sent to all site owners in an email when starting your WordPress blog and activating your hosting account. If you’re having trouble finding them, speak to your host.

After obtaining these credentials, you’re able to login to the FTP client and connect to your WordPress site files.

It depends on the FTP client you choose, but there is always an area to type in your host (typically your site address), username, and password. After that, click on the Login or Connect button – whatever is shown in your client.

Your best bet for the port is 22, and the file protocol should be on SFTP. This configuration encrypts your files for better security.

login

After your connection, most of the best FTP clients have side-by-side file panels, with the local files on one side and the WordPress files on the other. You’re able to do things like copying, deleting, and uploading.

comparison

Most of the time, you’ll simply drag one of the files from your local folders and place it in the right folder on your WordPress site. The transfer then gets placed in the queue and processed within a few seconds (usually).

Leave us a comment in the section below if you have any questions about or experiences with the clients I talked about.

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%:

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