6 Best Free FTP Client Software

For Windows, Mac, and Linux

FTP session in FileZilla.
Marco23 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

An FTP client is a program used to transfer files to and from an FTP server using the File Transfer Protocol. An FTP client usually has a graphical user interface with buttons and menus that help you with file transfers. However, some FTP clients are completely text-based and run from a command line.

All of the FTP clients below are freeware, meaning they don't charge you to connect to the FTP server. Some will work on a Windows operating system only, but others are usable on a Mac or Linux computer.

Note: Most web browsers and operating systems include a built-in FTP client by default without requiring a download. However, the programs below provide additional features not found in those clients.

01
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FileZilla

FileZilla is a popular free FTP client for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The program is easy to use and understand, and it uses tabbed browsing for multiple simultaneous server support.

Filezilla includes a live log of your connection to a server, and shows your local files in a section right next to the remote files on the server, making it really easy to transfer to and from the server and seeing the status of every action.

FileZilla Client supports bookmarking FTP servers for easy access later. You can resume and transfer big files 4 GB and larger, and it supports simple drag-and-drop functionality. It also allows you to search the FTP server.

Here are just some of the options and supported features in Filezilla:

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

Note: Filezilla might ask you to install other, non-related applications during setup, but you can uncheck those options or skip over them if you don't want them installed along with FileZilla client.

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FTP Voyager

This FTP client for Windows looks a lot like FileZilla with its side-by-side local and remote file listing and tabbed browsing, but it includes several other features that aren't available with that program. While the FTP Voyager program can limit the download speed, manage FTP servers with its Site Manager, and much more like FileZilla, it can also do the following:

  • Set a compression level
  • Get a sound alert, pop up alert, and/or email after a condition has been met (e.g., when you've logged in, failed to log in, successfully transferred a file, disconnected, etc.)
  • Ask for permission before performing specific actions like deleting files/folders, overwriting a file during download, closing the remote browser, deleting an event, removing an item from the queue, etc.
  • Define the file type identified by certain file extensions (e.g., MPGs and AVIs should be called "Video Files")
  • Advanced SSH2 settings
  • Synchronize two folders
  • Auto-rename downloaded and/or uploaded files by pattern rules
  • Send FTP commands

Note: You have to enter personal details such as your name and email before you can download Voyager.

03
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WinSCP

Engineers and system administrators like WinSCP for its command line capabilities and protocol support. SCP (Session Control Protocol) is an older standard for secure file transfers; WinSCP supports both SCP and the newer SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) standard, in addition to traditional FTP. 

Here are some features of WinSCP:

  • "Commander" and "Explorer" are two UI methods of using the program
  • Multiple sessions are loaded as tabs for easy simultaneous access
  • FTP folders can be bookmarked
  • You're able to ZIP and download files from the server
  • "Download and delete" lets you download a file/folder from the server and then have WinSCP delete the server version automatically
  • Batch renaming makes it easier to rename multiple files
  • It's easy to copy the path to a file on the server, including the credentials to get there, so that you can share the URL
  • The file search tool searches through the server using file masks so you can include and exclude certain file extensions and folders
  • Can save an FTP session as a site within WinSCP as well as to a desktop shortcut for easy access later
  • You can keep local directories up to date by having WinSCP auto-scan an FTP folder and then automatically download files when necessary to make sure the local folder includes all of the files from the FTP folder
  • WinSCP supports two-way syncing to keep both a local and remote folder up to date with each other's files
  • Synchronize Browsing is a command you can run to automatically open a local folder of the same name when you open one on the server, and vice versa

WinSCP is free, open source software for Microsoft Windows. It can be installed like a regular program or downloaded as a portable application that can run from any device, like a flash drive or disc.

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CoffeeCup

CoffeeCup's free FTP client has a modern look and feel to it and supports all the basic features important to web administrators, which is who this client is designed for. However, anyone can use this program if they want an FTP client that's simple to understand and provides an easy drag-and-drop interface between local and remote files.

Another component that makes this program easy to grasp is the large buttons that each have a distinct and clear purpose. 

Here are some more features you'll find in this free FTP client:

  • Keeps all your FTP servers saved for easy access
  • A Transfer Activity window lets you monitor and pause transfers. They're organized by server for better organization
  • You have full control over what double-clicking on a local and remote file will do (no effect, open the file, or transfer the file)
  • The last FTP session can be automatically restored when you reopen the program
  • Data can be downloaded in a ZIP archive
  • It's easy to move selected files and folders to a different FTP folder with a right-click menu
  • Remote folders can be bookmarked
  • Includes a Snippet Library that makes it easy to insert code into a document with a keyboard shortcut

CoffeeCup offers web administrators a built-in file editor, code completion tool, and image viewer, but those features are unfortunately not available in the free edition.

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Core FTP LE

Core FTP LE shares a lot of the same visual features as the other clients on the list, including the local and remote folders displayed side-by-side and the status bar showing what's going on at any given time. You can drag-and-drop files between the locations, and manage the transfer queue.

Here are notable features included in Core FTP LE, some of which are completely unique to this program:

  • Choose a default local and/or remote starting folder that's specific for each FTP server you connect to
  • Commands can be configured to run automatically before and after login as well as before and after transfers
  • Files can be automatically renamed upon download and upload
  • The queue lets you set up transfers without starting them right away
  • Files can be transferred from one server to another without having to put them on your local computer first
  • You can make custom file associations that apply only to Core FTP LE, so that when you open files they launch in a specific program on your computer
  • Support for bandwidth control means you can limit the speed at which the client transfers data
  • Files you open for editing can be automatically saved back to the FTP server when you're finished
  • Some connection details include enabling PASV mode, AUTH SSL, SSL Direct, SSH/SFTP, OpenSSL, SSL listing, and SSL transfers

There is a paid pro version of Core FTP that includes additional features like scheduled transfers, thumbnail image previews, a removed splash screen, GXC ICS support, file syncing, ZIP compression, encryption, email notifications, and lots more.

06
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CrossFTP

CrossFTP is a free FTP client for Mac, Linux, and Windows and works with FTP, Amazon S3, Google Storage, and Amazon Glacier. The primary features of this FTP client include tabbed server browsing, compressing and extracting archives, encryption, search, batch transfers, and file previews.

This free FTP client also lets you set up commands and sounds for specific events so that you can let the client run on auto-pilot while still getting a feel for what's going on without having to always keep an eye on the transfer log.

CrossFTP is free for the features mentioned above, but the paid CrossFTP Pro software includes other functions like folder syncing, transfer schedules, site-to-site transfers, file browser syncing, and more.