FileZilla is all you need if you’re after a reliable File Transfer Protocol (FTP) tool for uploading or downloading files to and from your server.
This software is open source and distributed free of charge. Both the client and server interface are available as well as the option to open multiple sessions.
The only thing that got on my nerves is the constant timing out when it is left idle. You can adjust the timeout settings to prevent the timeouts, and you should also whitelist your I.P. with your webhost (more on that in a minute.)
First, adjust the server connection timeout settings…
To change these session length settings and prevent quick timeouts, go to Edit > Settings and increase how many seconds you want a session to last before it times out.
At the moment I have set it to 300 seconds. You must be careful with reconnecting too soon immediately after a timeout because it can cause a lockout.
You might want to add your computer I.P. address to a safe list on your webhost. This is called a whitelist and means you won’t get locked out of your server by accident.
Let me explain.
Whitelist Your I.P. With Your Host
Once, I was rushing to update a website for a client. I kept getting disconnected because in between copying files I was working on some graphic designs. The connection timed out and I kept refreshing the connection to reestablish access to the server directory I was copying files to. This happened five, six, maybe seven times.
Finally I was unable to login at all. I was locked out!
So I contacted my host, DreamHost, and told them what I’d been doing. I suspected a fail safe had been triggered as a result of my bungling errors. I was right.
Their brute force protection service had kicked IN and kicked me OUT! Their software automatically detected what they thought was someone – or something – trying to hack the server.
You could compare it to putting the wrong key in a lock too many times.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad to see their system does what it is supposed to do. The helpful service representative I was dealing with on the instant chat support within DreamHost offered to whitelist my I.P. to stop this happening again.
Moral of the tangent: it’s probably a good idea to whitelist your I.P. from day one with your host before using FTP software.
Have FileZilla Ask for Passwords Every Time
Something else you can do for security is changing the password settings on the FTP login for the sites you manage.
You want it set up so that when you connect to a remote server, you will be asked to manually enter the password.
When I was running my own websites in the early days I had FileZilla set up so I could log into any one of my sites without having to enter a password every time.
It was easy at the time. It saved me having to type the password every time, especially considering I use a mixture of letters and numbers which are hard to remember. But now, in the interests of data protection and security, server passwords are kept completely separate from FileZilla.
To change password settings go to File > Site Manager. You will see the settings below in the screenshot. These can be changed to “Ask for password” so that every time you connect to a site profile, you’ll be prompted to manually enter the password. If it is harder even for you to access your web server, it will be harder for thieves/hackers to access it.
Keep passwords written down but locked away securely.
FileZilla will ask you tu update the software once in a while. Before I update the software I like to take a backup of all the website profiles stored in the Site Manager. This is in case something goes wrong with a software update and everything gets wiped out.
Creating a backup means you can always transfer the site profile settings to another PC.
To create the backup you should choose File > Export.
The current configuration of the software including profiles will be saved to an .XML file. This can easily be imported.
Get FileZilla Free
You can download FileZilla here on the official website. There is documentation, screenshots and even a community forum.
I’ve used a few different FTP clients over the years and this one is easily the best. (Actually, I hear good stuff about FireFTP for Mozilla FireFox but I’m getting sick of FireFox instability so haven’t bothered.)
By default most web hosts come with a browser based FTP area in their user dashboard. They’re okay but not as good as dedicated software.
If you have any comments or useful thoughts on FileZilla, please let it be known below!