When the trend of the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) was at its hype, businesses used it extensively to exchange files without pondering over minute details such as security. The scenario has changed now though since a wide abundance of FTP applications are available. WinSCP and FileZilla are two examples of popular FTP client that are used by businesses all around the globe. In this article, we take a detailed comparison between WinSCP vs FileZilla.
WinSCP (short for Windows Secure Copy) is a free, open-source FTP client for Windows that was developed by Martin Přikryl in 2000. WinSCP is licensed under GNU GPL and it makes use of SSH with support for SCP and SFTP protocols. FileZilla is a cross-platform and free FTP application that was developed by Tim Kosse in 2001. FileZilla is also licensed under GNU GPL and it has support for FTP, SFTP, and FTPS.
WinSCP vs FileZilla:
Now that you know about the background of the WinSCP vs FileZilla FTP clients, let us take a look at a thorough comparison between the applications.
WinSCP is bred for the Windows environment and this is why it readily integrates features such as drag-and-drop, shortcuts, and URLs. It covers all the basic file transfer and file management services such as transfer over FTP, SFTP, and SCP. What sets the WinSCP apart is its ability to retain timestamps even after files are uploaded – something that is not found in other FTP clients. Other features include directory synchronization through fully automatic and semi-automatic methods, storage for session information, and an integrated text editor.
FileZilla is not as readily configured for Windows as WinSCP, but it does have support for the drag and drop feature. The tabbed interface makes it easy to multitask since you can browse through multiple servers and even send files through multiple servers simultaneously. It also has support for pause and resume which comes in very handy with larger file sizes. Moreover, utilities such as Site Manager and Remote File Editing make it easier to manage servers and files. Other feature of FileZilla includes bookmarking, configurable file transfer speeds, synchronized browsing, and remote file searching.
While WinSCP offers some great features, FileZilla is the winner in this comparison because of its powerful set of features.
WinSCP has a graphical user interface (GUI) that is intuitive and easy to use. It also has a command line interface (CLI) available that can be used to perform all common file operations and batch file scripting. The CLI comes in very handy when you are looking to configure WinSCP and its associated settings.
Unlike WinSCP, FileZilla has a GUI that has a tabbed interface which makes it convenient to navigate through the application. The user interface itself is simple to understand and easy to get used to. However, FileZilla does not have support for CLI like WinSCP which means that you are limited to the GUI for configuring the FTP environment.
With support for both GUI and CLI, WinSCP stands out as our winner in this comparison of WinSCP vs FileZilla.
WinSCP is native to Microsoft Windows only – it does not support other platforms such as Linux and macOS which is a big setback. There are three portable versions of the tool available though that include a generic package, a Portableapps.com package, and a LiberKey package. You can make use of these to run the application on Linux but again, the supported functionality is limited.
FileZilla is cross-platform and can be easily integrated with Windows, Linux, and macOS which makes it a good choice for transferring files across different platforms.
The cross-platform support means that FileZilla wins in this comparison factor. If you are Linux and macOS user, then you will have to choose FileZilla over WinSCP.
One of the most important factors to consider about FTP clients is their security features. WinSCP makes use of Secure Copy (SCP) and SFTP over SSH-1, WebDAV protocol, and FTP. For individuals that are looking for reinforced security, WinSCP also offers SFTP over SSH-2. WinSCP also has support for public key authentication over SSH since it makes use of Pageant (a PuTTY authentication agent). Additionally, it also supports Kerberos authentication, SSH passwords, and encrypted password storage as well.
On the other hand, FileZilla has support for FTP and encrypted FTP such as SFTP and FTPS over SSH. It is also compatible with HTTP/1.1, FTP-proxy, and SOCKS5. As with WinSCP, FileZilla also supports public key authentication. However, there is no support for SSH passwords and passwords are stored in plain-text (which makes it prone to security breaches).
WinSCP takes the advantage in this WinSCP vs FileZilla comparison since it has the complete set of security features including encrypted password storage.
While both FileZilla and WinSCP are renowned as FTP clients, each of them has been criticized in the past for having issues. The older versions of WinSCP have a bundled Google Chrome in the installer and shows advertisements to the users which can be a nuisance – however, this was resolved in version 5.5.5 and the installer does not show ads anymore. WinSCP is also commonly criticized for being restricted to Windows only.
On the other hand, FileZilla has been openly criticized for storing usernames and passwords in plain-text format rather than encrypted format. What this means is that if any malware gets access to a user’s system, they can read and alter their data without limitations. Another concern that is commonly raised is with the FileZilla download/installer. Since it is available on SourceForge.net, it comes with a download wrapper that offers the users to install additional software. The problem is that most of these additional applications have been reported to be adware and spyware. Furthermore, FileZilla also displays ads during startup, as well.
WinSCP is the winner in this comparison of WinSCP vs FileZilla again since its only main concern is the lack of cross-platform support. FileZilla, however, compromises on security with plain-text passwords and adware which is a more serious flaw.
Here is a comparison chart for WinSCP vs FileZilla illustrating the difference between the FTP clients:
|User Interface||GUI||GUI, CLI|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, Linux, macOS||Windows|
|Multiple Server Management||Yes||No|
|Additional Features||Site manager, remote file searching, remote file editing, synchronized browsing||Integrated text editor, stored session information, consistent date/timestamp support|
|Security||FTP, SFTP, FTPS, SSH||FTP, SCP, SFTP, PuTTY, WebDAV, SSH, encrypted password storage|
|Known Issues||Adware, plain-text password storage, advertisements in-app||Lack of support for Linux and macOS|
FileZilla is a powerful FTP client that is well known for its feature-rich environment and efficient file management functions. It is the primary choice of FTP client for users that are working on Linux and macOS. However, it does not focus as much on security and user experience as some other FTP applications such as WinSCP. In our comparison, we took a look at five comparison factors and WinSCP stood out as the winner in three of these five factors. WinSCP provides an integrated experience for Windows users, puts the focus on security, and offers some powerful file transfer and management features which make it our recommended FTP application.