technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
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New CuteFTP released, but check out LeechFTP and WebDrive, too


Bit Player for July 4, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

CuteFTP is a longtime favorite of Windows users. It's probably the most popular ftp program for Windows PCs. A new version is available from Globalscape at http://www.globalscape.com/.

The "FTP" in the name means "file transfer protocol," one of the oldest methods of downloading files on the Internet. (It works great for uploading, too, but most users never do an upload.) The neat thing about ftp -- it's usually written that way, without capital letters -- is that Web browsers do it automatically. This means you hardly ever have to think about ftp.

And that means that programs such as CuteFTP are superfluous for most Internet users. Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer handle ftp just fine, thank you. If all you do are occasional downloads, you can safely do without an ftp program.

But if you do a lot of downloading, you need a real ftp program. And if you maintain a Web site, you also need one. (I realize that many Web-page editors have built-in uploading to send your changed pages to your Web site, but that's never a satisfactory way of doing this. Get a real ftp program if you are a Web designer.)

CuteFTP costs $40 and comes with a free Web-page editor called CuteHTML. You can download a free trial version of CuteFTP that will run for a month and you can download the Web-page editor without CuteFTP from the Globalscape site.

I've used CuteFTP for years -- first under Windows 3.1, then under Windows 95 and now under Windows 98. It's very good, setting the standard for solid performance on PCs. If CuteFTP can't handle a download or upload, you probably can't get it.

The Web-page editor is serviceable and handy. I use HomeSite and would not part with it for even an hour, but the free editor from Globalscape is adequate for small sites.

However, I don't use CuteFTP for most of my uploads and downloads. For standard ftp connections, I use LeechFTP, which makes all other ftp programs seem old fashioned. LeechFTP takes full advantage of the multi-threading in Windows and is simply outstanding. (It's also a little buggy.) LeechFTP is free. You can get it from http://leechftp.hypermart.net/.

I use LeechFTP when I am going to do serious downloads. Most of the time, however, I use an ftp program that turns all ftp sites into drives on my PC. It's called WebDrive, from http://www.riverfrontsoftware.com/. WebDrive is spectacular, working in the background to turn any folder on any computer that you can reach by ftp into a drive on your Windows PC. It's $40, but you can try it out for free.


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