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Advice on FTP Clients

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  • CTM

    A ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it?

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 01:21 PM Edited by CTM, 01 April 2005 - 01:26 PM.

I use SmartFTP, mainly for the same reasons that everyone else has pointed out in this thread. It's free (the popup on start gets annoying after a while, but I can live with it); has a great featureset (comparable with some of the heavyweight clients such as CuteFTP); and has a brilliant interface (it takes a little bit of getting used to but if you're used to Windows user interfaces, it's easy to use after the first few minutes). Highly recommended if it's your first FTP client. smile.gif

QUOTE (Cerbera @ Mar 31 2005, 20:54)
Since my server already had an account set up on it, I decided to try out IE's FTP support.  Drag-dropping files straight from an Explorer window into Internet Explorer and them being uploaded straight to the server just blew me away.  This is going to save me so much time, I cannot beleive I have only just started to use it! suicidal.gif

The only problem with IE's FTP support is that sometimes it's too simplistic... For example, there's no way to set permissions on the files you've uploaded and you can't specify whether to upload files in binary or ASCII mode, which can sometimes get annoying. In fact, if your server is *NIX, you might run into some problems with IE FTP.

  • Alcoholica

    Self-improvement is masturbation.

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (Svip @ Mar 28 2005, 14:34)
IglooFTP-PRO helps me do the crap. Quite annoying, but it works.

Oh wait. You wouldn't need that.

Go for SmartFTP.

IglooFTP-PRO is only for Linux. tounge.gif

No, it's not. bored.gif

  • timmy2004


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Posted 02 April 2005 - 11:36 AM

QUOTE (Gangsta Killa @ Mar 25 2005, 23:56)
I use Filezilla. Its free, its very simple to use, and I've had no problem with it. It has a drag and drop feature to upload files, just drop onto the screen and away it uploads, but it doesn't do drag and drop for downloading. Overall I've found it the best I've used.


Ditto, you use it esactly how I use it, it's awsome.

-Sweden pwns you.

  • BenMillard

    aka Cerbera

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 05:09 PM Edited by Cerbera, 17 April 2005 - 04:51 PM.

I have just finished the review for IE6's FTP support. It doesn't make for good reading now that I have had time to discover all the annoying and timewasting interface quirks it has. Suggestions for the next client I should review would be welcome as I'm not sure which I should rip to shreds give a concise and balanced report on. Bearing in mind that my website has 160+ pages spread across about 12 folders, I really want to test a client which pretends to be excellent at medium-scale websites.

Internet Explorer 6.0
Overall, IE makes an awful FTP client. Endless messageboxes in confused orders being created at unpredictable moments really ruin what is otherwise a simple and easy to use program. I will test IE7 when I get it and will add a note about it here but IE6 gets a very poor verdict from me.

My host already had a default password-protected FTP account set up for me so all I has to do in IE was enter the URL address to the FTP part of the server, then right-click and select "Login As..." and finally enter the account username and password. As one would expect from Microsoft, it is very easy to use, it matches the normal Windows Explorer programs, it generally does what you think it is going to and it asks you what to do if it predicts an error might occur. However, one criticism I have of Microsoft products is the incessant message boxes they throw at you get infuriating for people who know what they are doing. When using IE for file management they really do get absurd.

My website is spread out over twelve folders including the root which contains the homepage, error pages and the CSS file. IE offers no way of simply scanning the "website" folder on my home PC and uploading all the files of a certain type, so I have to go into each folder, highlight the website pages and drag them. IE then shows a dialogue saying it is calculating the time required to upload these files (which takes several seconds sometimes) and then shows a message box asking if I want to replace the files on the server with the ones I have dragged onto it. Calculating the time required before asking about the replacing makes no sense, since if you decide not to overwrite one or any of the files the calculation will be completely wrong! It also means you have to wait around for it to run this very slow calculation just so you can tell it to upload the files you told it to upload.

There are lots more of these annoying little quirks in the FTP support of IE, such as whenever it completes anything or displays a dialogue or shows a message box, it grabs the focus immediately. This means you can be merrily typing away in a program whilst it uploads and then suddenly a message box appears without warning. Since it is so sudden, you end up finishing the word you are on before you realise that the message box has taken your typing to be your answer to the box! If you are in a game when it does this, it will often cause a fatal error and if you are playing multiplayer it can be impossible to resume the game again. Aside from just being really inconvieniant and obnoxious.

Here you can see what a mess I have to make when trying to queue up the various folders of page files that have to go into the folders on the web server:
user posted image
1600x1200 image

  • segosa

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Posted 17 April 2005 - 04:11 PM

Interesting view, not much we didn't already know though tounge.gif

Why not do FileZilla next?

  • BenMillard

    aka Cerbera

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 05:40 PM Edited by Cerbera, 22 April 2005 - 06:56 PM.

Overall, a well-meaning and feature-rich program which really needs some serious refinements. Endless little bugs and oddities prevent this ambitious project from being the really useful tool it is trying to be.

When I first got FileZilla and started poking around I was very happy with what I saw. Extensive settings options arranged quite sensibly, a very flexible interface and the ability to use multiple settings files are all very impressive features. However, some of them do not work and there are some obvious options which are missing. An example of a setting which doesn't work is the height of the file queue at the bottom of the window. I set this to just a few lines (first image) but every time I load the program, it has grown to dominate the window (second image). An example of a missing setting would be the option of removing the clumsy "Local Site" pane since Windows Explorer is a far more convieniant way of browsing the HDD of your computer.

There are lots of other bugs and ommissions, such as the "Remote Site" listing does not show an icon for most filetypes, even ones like "*.html" and "*.png" which are essential to a website. The various dialogue windows which it has for setting up FTP accounts, changing file attributes and customising the settings cannot be resized. So, if you have a small screen they take loads of space and if you have a large screen they cannot be opened out at all. Most of the dialogue window interfaces are badly squashed up in some places and waste space in others.

There is no facility to scan a local folder and its subfolders for files of a certain type and upload all of them to the server, retaining the subfolder structure. You cannot drag-drop files onto the folder you want; you have to double-click the folder, wait for it to open and then drop them. When you double-click a folder, the cursor does not change so there is no obvious indication that the program is doing anything. With FireFox, when you click a link it shows a small hourglass next to the cursor and this is very helpful since you do not need to look over to another part of the interface to see if your click was acknowledged by the program. The toolbar buttons look very shabby and on my 1600◊1200 screen they are so tiny it is difficult to click on them. The toolbar has a drag handle on the left...but you cannot drag it anywhere. In fact, you cannot customise it at all.

At least it doesn't cover the screen in message boxes and progress windows, though.

FileZilla with the queue height I want, missing icons and showing the useless toolbar handle::
user posted image
large image

FileZilla forgetting the queue height:
user posted image
large image

Next! tounge.gif

(EDIT) Delfi has suggested SmartFTP to me, so that is what I am trying out now. First impressions are that it is a bewilderingly flexible but this is because it is aimed at advanced users. After several minutes reading through the excellent online help I figured out how to create and save a queue of files which could be read from the location saved in the queue file and uploaded to the destination saved in that file. Took a little while to set up all 168 files for my site but being able to highlight files in the queue setup list and apply properties to them in batches sped things up a lot.

It seems like a really serious piece of kit. So far the only niggle is that you cannot drag-drop from any files Windows Explorer directly onto a remote folder. It doesn't suffer from some of the bugs and ommissions in FileZilla as it is pretty good at getting the right icon for files in the remote view. Oh, the different ways to sort the remote files list don't seem to work. When I choose to sort them by "Type" it sorts them by type but within each type they are sorted by "Name" in reverse order. Lol.

The lack of tooltips on toolbar buttons is infuriating, as is the lack of large versions of the toolbar images. Grr. We'll see how it goes.

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