WS_FTP Pro 7.x

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Ipswitch, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98/98SE, ME, NT4, 2000 or XP
MSRP: US$45.00 (single user, no service agreement), US$39.95 (download only)

Ipswitch must have a special place in the hearts of the software gods. WS_FTP Pro is nothing special to look at, has a slightly confusing user interface and is pretty much average insofar as the purchase price is concerned. Yet WS_FTP Pro is the most versatile and popular choice for FTP file transfers and file transfer management among Web site managers, file storage and access gurus, IS managers and occasional users in need of effective transfers of large files..

I started hating command line file transfers via FTP a long time ago, in a computing world where the command line was quickly disappearing. Give me a set of stored FTP account information any day, inside a piece of software which automatically detects different server types, understands all the different file systems (Windows NTFS, Unix, etc.), automatically detects text and binary file types and sets the correct transfer method, performs file searches, synchronizes transfers, resumes interrupted transfers and queues & schedules automatic transfers.

WS_FTP Pro fits the bill. It beats using HTTP transfers because you can access entire folders and directories and upload multiple files. It also beats the heck out of transferring files via e-mail attachment because there are no file size limitations, security is much better, you know exactly where a file is coming from or going to, your mail server doesn't choke and your desktop doesn't slow to a crawl because of the file transfer activity.

We installed WS_FTP Pro v7.0 on three computers: a PII/350 running Windows 98, a PIII/500 running Windows 2000 Professional, and a PII/366 running Windows 95. Installation was flawless. The modem in the Windows 95 machine and the LAN connections in the other two machines were detected and used properly.

Testing consisted of a series of pre-scheduled transfers to a private FTP site, along with some large Web site maintenance chores (uploading and replacing HTML and image files). The conclusion we came to, after making some quick comparisons with CuteFTP, reliable old eFTP and a few other popular FTP clients is that WS_FTP Pro rules the roost. It sets up fast and is forgiving and informative about configuration errors.

WS_FTP Pro v7 features a new File Transfer Manager for monitoring FTP tasks, tracking current file transfers and logging all activity. Also new is the Firescript editor for creating custom scripts for different firewall configurations. The other really friendly feature is the excellent online help system. Stuck in the UI somewhere? In need of a clear explanation or tutorial? Hit F1.

Cons: WS_FTP Pro is still ugly. Okay, okay, it's just a utility. But if a company is going to design its own UI, why not improve on the Windows standard instead of taking a step back? None of the command and activity buttons are where you expect them to be. Ipswitch is still using some DOS and Unix command abbreviations in the UI (e.g.: ChgDir, MkDir and so on). It takes a few usage sessions to figure everything out.

Pros: WS_FTP Pro is still the best FTP software available. Does not suck up all system resources even when performing several simultaneous transfers. File transfer scheduling can be adjusted for time zone differences. The menu bar makes more sense than previous versions. Whether you're managing several Web sites, a remote file storage area, or require some secure and direct means of exchanging confidential data, WS_FTP Pro has all of the requisite features and functions in a relatively easy to use package. Now automatically detects FTP file transfers through your Web browser and takes over the process for you - very handy. Excellent online help system with clear explanations, complete configuration advice and tutorials. Highly recommended.

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