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WS_FTP Professional from Ipswitch, like many other good File Transfer Protocol (FTP) programs, makes it easy and safe to share digital images and video, transfer music files and publish personal Web sites compared to email, peer-to-peer applications and instant messaging services. This type of software is a lot more reliable and convenient than email too, especially if you use a dial-up modem, because you can schedule transfers and continue downloads/uploads if an error occurs. In addition, you don't have to worry about viruses and mailbox size limits.
FTP software is essential if you regularly transfer files to and from a Web server, or share large files between remote facilities. Similar to HTTP for transferring Web pages from a server to your browser, and SMTP for transferring email across the Internet, FTP uses TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. However, FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server over the Internet, or to upload a file to a server -- for example, a Web page to a Web server.
WS_FTP Professional is a well-established product. Key enhancements to version 9.0 include a completely redesigned tabbed interface that's easier to use, improved security via the addition of public key-based PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), as well as new customisation options that provide you with better control over the flow of files between computers and servers.
The biggest appeal of WS_FTP Professional is that, unlike most shareware FTP programs, the software is packed full of key features and is fully supported by a reputable company. Built-in security also helps to make the software a great choice for business users. If you’re running an older version you’ll immediately notice a new interface design. Although this has a Windows XP look and feel and is littered with buttons, it’s actually very easy to use.
The familiar two-pane format is still present for performing file transfer operations, although this has been expanded and now allows you to arrange the panes as you wish. The interface is cleaner, and the menu bar, tool bar, connection bar, connection pane and information window have all been updated for more intuitive functionality. Ipswitch has also introduced a tabbed interface that allows you to flip between the Transfer Manager, Transfer History and Connection Log manager windows.
Transfers take place within the software’s two main windows, where you can drag-and-files to and from your computer or a remote location. Similar to most other Windows applications, WS_FTP Professional allows you to view your collection of files, folders and servers in a number of views -- such as by date, type or thumbnails. You can also monitor the progress of your file transfers, as well as schedule the transfer of multiple files within different directories and on different FTP sites. Transfer feedback includes the path and name of the file or folder that is being transferred, a progress bar showing percentage of completion, the size of the transfer in bytes, transfer rate, actual file size, as well as the estimated time left until the transfer is complete.
The key addition really is WS_FTP Professional 9.0's new security features. Based on OpenPGP standards, you can encrypt individual files and take greater control over how files are shared and viewed. For example, PGP is used to encrypt files so that only their intended recipient can receive and open them. The technology is based on a key pair (Public Key and a Private Key) to encrypt and decrypt files, so only those with the matching keys can encrypt and decrypt files. If your company doesn’t already have a personal PGP key pair, WS_FTP Professional can help you generate one using a built-in PGP key generation wizard.
Additional security includes SFTP over SSH 2.0 for securing your data when accessing and remotely managing files on legacy systems, such as UNIX, and the ability to configure an IP address and port range when using the PORT command over SSL. WS_FTP Pro 9 also includes SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 proxy support, making it one of the most complete and effective FTP applications available.