There are plenty of ways nowadays to safely and securely transfer big or sensitive data files from one person to another (but alas some that are not so safe). Carrier pigeons mostly went out of fashion after the war so probably aren't really a consideration anymore. Emailing password protected files is one way but hackers lurk everywhere, and zipped files are notoriously easy to break into and it can take ages for mail servers to download big files so emailing is often a bust. There is also a whole multitude of cloud services out there (probably too many to choose from) like dropbox.com, yousendit.com, transferbigfiles.com, wetransfer.com, sendthisfile.com...getting silly now...sendspace.com, objectiveconnect.co.uk, box.com...the list goes on - hell even software like Skype will do it for you. Sometimes though, especially in the corporate world, you just want to look a bit more professional and give a greater appearance, even if it is just superficial, of more security and FTP is one method. FTP is also incredibly useful for transferring files directly to and from a server in order to host images and such the like.
==FTP, I hear you ask?==
I'm sure most people have stumbled across FTP in their lives, but for those that may have not, FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and in technical terms this is a network protocol operating in a client-server architecture with the server controlling the data connections between itself and the client host, requiring a username and password authentication before allowing data transmission to commence over a TCP-based network, e.g. the Internet. In layman's terms - the server says go for it when you ask permission and lets you either add to or extract from itself. There are different security levels for FTP which can be configured to allow anonymous connections which is very low level security; normal FTP requiring a username and password, and high security with FTPS which uses an SSL/TLS encryption or SFTP which uses the SSH File Transfer protocol. So, you can connect directly to your server and type in some funky commands to run these transfers for you, but that can be overly complicated, and why go through the hassle when there's some perfectly functioning GUI software out there that will work with just a sweep of a mouse?
==FileZilla, no relation to Godzilla (unfortunately)==
FileZilla is an excellent FTP solution to make the process of transferring files fabulously painless with the added bonus of being totally free. Yay. The software can be downloaded from filezilla-project.org and you have the choice of FileZilla Client or FileZilla Server depending on your needs.
FileZilla Server is designed to create your own server (Windows only though) on a PC allowing you to connect to it from other locations to transfer files. It requires a little bit of hoo-ha to download and install the software, set it up to run as a Windows service with an admin interface and then add authorised Client Users with log in details that will allow them to access your server with either FTP or FTPS encryption only. Then you can easily access this server with some FTP client software...ooh say FileZilla Client. In the real world though, FileZilla Server is probably a bit limited as it can only be run on Windows and has no web hosting capabilities so depending on your requirements you can use some kind of online cloud service like Dropbox.com for file transfers or any number of web hosting companies or cloud servers for a small monthly fee which would be a whole lot more convenient than creating your own home version. However, if you have a server already in place that you need to connect to, the FileZilla Client comes in to its own as one of the most stable and intuitive pieces of software out there.
FileZilla Client is supremely easy to download, install and set up. To download the software simply hop on to filezilla-project.org and click on the giant Download FileZilla Client box which will allow you to choose your operating system for Windows, Linux or Mac. I'm still a Windows user even though they're trying to convert me over to Mac at work, so to install on Windows all you need to do is save the .exe file, run it, agree to the Ts & Cs that I'd bet £1,000 you didn't read, choose your installation option, e.g. all users or just yourself having access, choose your components to install, choose the path location and start up menu name and then in about 20 seconds it is all installed and ready to go. When you open the software you are confronted with a split screen of two windows - the left side giving you the directory tree for your local machine e.g. your C drive or an external hard drive which you can explore in a similar fashion to Window's explorer and on the right you can see the directory tree for whatever sever you connect to. Then to transfer files in either direction you can simply drag and drop from one window the other and the transfer will automatically begin with no muss and no fuss.
===The Main Facilities:===
1. You have the option to enter a quick host location e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, a username and a password and make a quick connection or you can store regular connections with the Site Manager function (choosing from FTP or SFTP protocols) which will allow you to just simply open the connection each time without having to re-enter the details. Once you try to make a connection there is, by default, a message log which will display green messages if you were successful or red if you were denied so it is pretty obvious when you have a successful connection which is handy.
2. You can open up multiple tabs meaning you can connect to more than one server or have multiple connections to the same server in one session.
3. You can set bookmarks for directories you regularly visit for both a local site e.g. C:\Users\YourName\My Documents or for your remote server which might resemble something like /var/sftp/DirectoryName/ to make it quicker to navigate around your system.
4. You can configure your working environment to adjust such things as: your FTP mode (passive or active); your transfer speeds and number of consecutive files allowed; the rules for overwriting files with the same name; the layout design which by default is Classic but could be Explorer, Widescreen or Blackboard, though for me Classic works perfectly well; the formatting for the date/time; the filesize display e.g. in bytes or with binary prefixes or in decimal prefixes; the language and which file editor to use; how often the software checks for updates plus a few more complicated and technological savvy settings that mean nothing to me.
5. You can search a directory of a remote server for files and paths containing or not containing, matching, beginning or ending with, or matching a regular expression of a user specified input or searching for files of a certain size or creation date range which will return a list allowing you to download which ever files you find saving you the bother of manually searching.
==My Experiences with FileZilla Client==
I only use this software at work for both uploading to and downloading from our work server, as well as for uploading to and downloading from another server we use to offer space to our clients for their data transfers and I find it incredibly easy to use and have no real complaints. Connecting to a server or a client user on that server is really simple as all you need are the hostname, username and password and it takes a few seconds to create a new connection with them which you can test before use and then reuse time and time again which makes the whole procedure incredibly quick. Being able to use bookmarks also saves time, although I tend to just paste my local paths in directly which works just as well, and I find that bookmarks for me are more useful on the remote side.
The entire concept of drag and drop I'm sure is so familiar for all Window's users that this is just an incredibly intuitive piece of software, although the inherent issues of drag and drop which include accidentally moving files to different folders still exists so you do need to take a little care that your motor functions are working and you drop where you intend to. Also double clicking on a file will start a transfer to whatever server you are connected to, so it is also incredibly easy to unintentionally transfer the wrong file whilst trying to navigate through the directory tree with some twitchy mouse use which would be bad if you are playing about with sensitive client data and sending it to the wrong client so some quality control is potentially required in certain situations.
The transfer speed is obviously dependent on the bandwidth allowed for each server, so is nothing to do with FileZilla Client itself, but for me our work server can be very slow on large files, especially if I'm transferring multiple ones at the same time so I often find myself fiddling with the settings to try to improve things which can be frustrating. In fact I find I often have to zip these large files up to make it workable and then the only way to unzip them in my case is to connect directly to the server via a command terminal using the SSH tunnelling protocol and use the unzip filename.zip command to unzip on the server side since FileZilla Client cannot offer a GUI command to do this, so that is one tiny little niggle that adds on a little time to a large transfer. One good thing though is that FileZilla often can recover if a connection is temporarily lost and resume the transfer from when it was lost so you won't find yourself constantly restarting transfers if suffering an unstable connection. Also, if you find an upload taking too long or was done in error you can easily stop and remove the transfer, though it will leave an incomplete version of the file where you were transferring to so you will have to remember to remove it if the file is no longer needed.
From a user point of view I have not personally noticed any bugs so I'd say this is a very stable piece of software but there is an excellent online documentation area which provides tutorials and user guides as well as online forums to seek help and advice if you do hit any snags, and when you do get new updates through it is so simple to download the latest .exe file and run it which will simply update all the files it needs to before opening up your FileZilla Client back in the same state it was in before leaving your settings unaffected which is handy. So all in all, for me FileZilla Server for the server side of things probably will only have a limited use and my lack of experience with it means I cannot recommend it either way though I suspect there are better solutions out there, but FileZilla Client for the client side of things, considering it is free, is probably as good as any software out there for your FTP needs due to the stable and intuitive nature of the software, the ease of setting up your connections and the comprehensive help available online. Since using FileZilla I have no desire to look for any other solution which I think speaks volumes.
There are many different freeware FTP programmes available on websites such as download.com and I've tried out quite a few of them over the years and I must admit there's not much difference in quality between them, but FileZilla has always been my favourite.
FTP programmes are used by website designers and developers to transfer pages, images and other website parts to and from the server, where the website is hosted.
The interface and design of the software makes using it straightforward. In the left hand pane you'll see the files stored on your computer and on the right you'll see the files on the website server that you are connected to.
At the top is a log which gives you information about your connection to the server and if you lose connection or there's any other problems. At the bottom is the the list of files in your queue, if you are uploading or downloading multiple files. If you don't want to include some files, these can be disabled one by one.
I've never had any problems with this software. One reason for my continued use of it is that it has never crashed on me. Other FTP programmes have crashed when handling a large number of files, where as this one copes well. If you close the programme or lose connection, it remembers the progress of your download/upload queue and lets you continue where you left, rather than starting all over again which is very handy on slow connections or if you are using a large number of files.
FileZilla is an FTP program that allows you to transfer files from your local machine onto a webserver (and vice-versa). It is used by website developers (like me) to upload their websites for the world to see.
FileZilla is free to use and can be downloaded from: http://filezilla-project.org/. The download is under 4mb so won't take long at all. Installation is quick and easy - simply follow the prompts!
When loaded, you will have to enter a few details about your web server in order to connect to it. These are just the usual (hostname, username and password) which your web host should have told you. Once you've added the details, click on Connect and FileZilla will connect to the server. You'll now see that the window is split up into 2 panes: on the left are the files stored on your computer, on the right are the files on the web server. To transfer files from one computer to another, simply select the files and drag them from pane to pane. FileZilla will warn you if you're about to overwrite any files, so make sure you take note of any messages you see!
Transfer times vary depending on your net connection and server speed, but overall I've found them to be pretty good. You can save as many website connections as you like, meaning you can connect to a server in a couple of clicks rather than typing the information in each time. Helpfully, you can also export your list of sites to use on another computer (File > Export).
That's about it really. FileZilla is a free FTP program that's invaluable to me, as I'd be lost without it! There are a couple of bugs I've noticed... it can sometimes take a long time to start-up and on one occasion it lost all my passwords, but that was quite a while ago now. For free, you can't really ask for much more!