Category: Utilities, file transfer software
Name of tool: CuteFTP v4.0
Company name: GlobalScape Inc./ American TeleSource International Inc.
Windows platforms supported: 95, 98, NT, 2000
Quick description: A versatile file transfer utility that keeps getting better.
**** = Very cool, very useful
Pros: simple menus, solid performance and features
Cons: new version has more features than ever, making it somewhat harder to use
All of us who maintain web sites need to use some form of ftp software at one time or another. These are workhorses of web shops, used to move files from your local hard disk up to your web server. There are dozens of types of ftp software on the market to choose from, but I keep coming back to CuteFTP. Despite its name, it delivers the files and does its job well.
I want several things from an ftp client: ease of use, certainly, since I don't spend a great deal of time with this software and want to be able to transfer my files without a lot of fumbling around the menus. Above all, I want the ability to view the files on my site in several different ways. Sometimes I am looking for a particular file by name, by date, or by file type. The ability to sort through my file listings quickly and easily is important. I am also looking for reliable and dependable behavior. Last but not least is transfer speed. CuteFTP accomplishes these tasks all with ease. In most cases, a right mouse click here or there will do the trick.
One of the nice things about the software is how you can set UP a default Web site to connect to upon launching the program: if you just maintain a single site, then this saves you a bunch of time and keystrokes.
The latest version 4.0 adds lots of bells and some useful things as well. For example, if you have to move an entire site from location A to location B, in the past you had to accomplish this in two steps: first, ftp the files from location A to your desktop, and then from your desktop to location B. V 4.0 makes direct site-to-site transfers possible in just one step, provided you are running two copies of the software and drag files from one session to the other. (This isn't well documented, however.)
Also new to this version is the ability to find and download MP3 files, using a half-dozen popular music search sites. You can also schedule transfers to occur at specific times, something that is very useful if you want periodic updates of your site. Finally, GlobalScape has augmented its support for ftp transfer through various corporate firewalls, which makes it more useful to connect to your sites over the Internet.
About the biggest negative I have encountered with v4.0 is that these enhancements now get in the way of a very easy-to-use product. Sure, the old streamlined product is still there. But it took me some getting used to after using the earlier versions for many years.
**** = Very cool, very useful
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool
** = A tad shaky to install and use but has some value.
* = Don't waste your time. Minimal real value.
David Strom is president of his own consulting firm in Port Washington, NY. He has tested hundreds of computer products over the past two decades working as a computer journalist, consultant and corporate IT manager. Since 1995, he has written a weekly series of essays on web technologies and marketing called Web Informant. You can send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.