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2BC Software Spotlight – FileZilla

Logo for FileZilla

In today’s 2BC Software Spotlight, we are covering FileZilla. Filezilla is an FTP program, which means it helps move files between a computer and a server. In our case, it’s primarily used to copy files to a web server. It can also be used to host an FTP server, but we will only be covering the client-side application today.

FileZilla has been around since 2006, providing a clean, easy and stable FTP client for a long time. Since it is an open source project, it is free to use and modify, and has a huge following. WordPress.org even recommoneds using FileZilla, which is understandable considering that WordPress is also open source.

Connecting To An FTP Server Using FileZilla

Once FileZilla is opened, it has to be configured to connect to a server. It can do this via normal FTP, or via SSH FTP (SFTP) which makes it work with many services out there. Any major web-hosting company will allow FileZilla to connect to the associated FTP server and upload web files.

The Site Manager is a very easy way to keep track of many different FTP log ins:
Screenshot of FileZilla site manager
Screenshot of FileZilla site manager creating new site

The New Site screen allows you to enter the specific details of the FTP connection:
Screenshot of FileZilla Site Manager setting up new site

Most web hosting companies offer an FTP connection to a website by making use of the ftp sub-domain. For instance, if you were running the website example.com on a web host, it is very likely that you would have an FTP server available at ftp.example.com.

  • The default port for normal FTP is: 21
  • The default port for SSH FTP is : 22
  • The FTP server can specify a custom port for increased security

The port should be an indicator to which Encryption method you should choose. Typically you will be using plain FTP. However some services, such as Amazon EC2, require an SSH FTP connection. This can be done by entering the FileZilla settings screen, clicking SFTP, and entering the SSH key that should be used for authentication. Once the key has been specified, FileZilla saves this association for future connections.

The Logon Type should most likely be Normal, with the FTP username and password entered in the appropriate fields. If you do not want FileZilla to save the password, you can choose Ask for passsword. If you are connecting via SFTP and have loaded the SSH key into the FileZilla settings, you can leave the password blank.

Managing Files

Once the connection has been made, the screen should look somewhat like the following:
fz3_win_main

The layout is designed so that your local files on your computer are shown in the left column, while files on the server are in the right column. Once you have both of the columns browsing the correct locations, you can double-click, right-click, or drag-and-drop the files back and forth. While there is an option to edit the files live on the server, I would not recommend using this option, as I have had some issues with line endings being stripped in some situations.

Conclusion

There are many alternatives out there, but FileZilla has consistently worked well for millions of different people. It has many options beyond what we have covered here, check the project home page for a full list of features.