Over the years, CuteFTP has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the easiest FTP clients. Version 4.2.5 follows suit, but its feature set has fallen behind that of products that offer more for the same price. Although still an excellent choice for novices, more advanced users may want to sample other options, such as our Editors' Choice, WS FTP Pro. Over the years, CuteFTP has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the easiest FTP clients. Version 4.2.5 follows suit, but its feature set has fallen behind that of products that offer more for the same price. Although still an excellent choice for novices, more advanced users may want to sample other options, such as our Editors' Choice, WS FTP Pro.
Still easy to use
Downloading and installing CuteFTP is easy. Launch the application, and the FTP site manager gives you the option to connect to a site you specify, or you can just browse through the software's categorized list of dozens of anonymous FTP sites. A helpful wizard simplifies the connection process even further. You select your ISP, such as AOL or EarthLink, from a list, type in your username and password, and connect to your FTP account without needing to type in the FTP server address.
Once connected, the software offers a familiar two-pane display. Folders of the current local directory sit to the left, and the remote directory shows up on the right. To transfer files, double-click, then drag and drop; you can also transfer files by right-clicking. The software also integrates with Windows: Just right-click a file or folder in Windows Explorer and select CuteFTP Upload. Without launching the CuteFTP interface, the CuteFTP Connection Wizard guides you through the upload process.
Has basic features
CuteFTP's long-held reputation for being easy to use continues with the product's macro engine, which lets you record common tasks while you perform them, letting you repeat them later with a single click. Novices and experienced users alike will appreciate CuteFTP's MP3/File Search feature, which searches multiple FTP search engines, then lists results in a window below the search query. The extensive settings menus control an impressive array of features, including advanced firewall support and one that keeps you connected to an FTP server even when your system is inactive. You'll also find some of the more mundane features, such as fonts, colors, and sounds.
Lacks advanced features
Unfortunately, CuteFTP doesn't have many advanced features. Perhaps most disappointing is its lack of a folder synchronization tool, which would compare two folders and synchronize them by transferring only the files that have changed. In addition, CuteFTP doesn't support SSL encryption and includes no sophisticated scripting tools for automating and scheduling regular tasks. To take advantage of these features, you'll need to purchase CuteFTP Pro 2.0, which costs $59.95, compared to $39.95 for CuteFTP.
The software performed well in our time trials but fell short of equaling WS FTP Pro's. Although all of the FTP clients we tested produced indistinguishable results downloading a single large file, downloading a directory with several dozen files took about two minutes with CuteFTP and only one minute with WS FTP. (We reproduced these results both uploading and downloading files using several FTP servers.)
CuteFTP's $39.95 registration price buys you only 60 days of e-mail tech support. Phone support costs $29.95 per incident or $35 per year. However, the company's Web site offers extensive online help and troubleshooting, as well as PDF and HTML versions of the detailed user manual. We found the Windows help file terse and incomplete.
Overall, CuteFTP remains an easy-to-use FTP manager. However, WS FTP Pro and FTP Voyager offer advanced features that are available with only the more expensive CuteFTP Pro.