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The installation process for WS FTP Pro places two icons on your desktop: WS FTP Pro and WS FTP Explorer.
Click the WS FTP Pro icon, and the program launches a traditional-looking FTP interface with two parallel windows. The left window displays files and directories on your local machine, and the right shows those on a remote FTP server. To transfer files either direction, just click a file or directory in either pane, then click the arrow in the middle pointing to the other frame.
The WS FTP Explorer icon, on the other hand, launches a more Windows-like interface. This view mimics that of Microsoft's Windows Explorer, with the directory structure of both the local drives and the FTP server on the left. Select a drive or server, and the files and folders within show up on the right. Though the Explorer version offers easier folder navigation, we find the traditional interface more useful because it lets you see the contents of both directories simultaneously; this way you can make sure you're not replacing files.
Help for first-time users; tools for advanced users
With version 7.5, WS FTP Pro introduces an array of features for novices. The Assistance Center, accessed via a button on the remote-host dialog box, offers step-by-step, illustrated help and includes a wizard that guides you through the process of entering an FTP site. The program itself comes preloaded with dozens of interesting anonymous FTP sites.
WS FTP 7.5 also supports 128-bit SSL encryption for secure connections and the ability to resume disconnected file transfers--handy if, say, your ISP disconnects you in middownload. The directory-synchronization feature, the WS FTP Synchronize Utility that's accessed through the Tools menu, lets you automatically sync your PC directory with the FTP server or vice versa. You can even use the program's scheduling tool to automate this synchronization process or perform automatic backups on a remote PC. Unfortunately, the software's scripting feature, which lets you create macros to perform complex functions, is extremely difficult to use. It requires you to hand-code commands using a scripting language.
Performance is good
WS FTP stood out as the fastest FTP client we tested. Although all of the clients took the same amount of time to download a single large file, about two minutes per file, WS FTP could download or upload multiple files in a minute, roughly half the time of its competitors, CuteFTP and FTP Voyager. WS FTP is the only app we reviewed that opens multiple port connections, maximizing your bandwidth to perform multiple tasks at once, something the other apps do not do.
With its $39.95 registration fee, WS FTP delivers 60 days of phone or e-mail support. A one-year service agreement costs an exorbitant $65 more, though the company says it is considering a lower-priced service option for individual users. In addition to the Assistance Center tutorials, we found both the user manual and the Windows help to be well written and complete. The company's Web site provides additional tutorials and troubleshooting.
WS FTP Pro 7.5's features, performance, and ease-of-use leave a lasting impression, and its 30-day free trial makes it a must-have download for anyone looking for a new FTP client.