If you maintain a web site, genealogy-related or not, you may have to transfer files to and from the site by using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). If you do not maintain a web site or do not know what FTP is used for, you probably will find little of interest in this article. However, if you use Windows and some sort of FTP program to maintain your web site, please read on.
FTP is one of the oldest protocols on the Internet, having been around for ten years or more before the invention of the World Wide Web. It used to be a product for UNIX, DEC VAX, and mainframes of the 1980s. For a technical discussion of FTP written for beginners, look at http://www.ftpplanet.com/ftpresources/basics.htm.
FTP has since been ported to Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, where it is still used to transfer files to and from servers. Sadly, FTP has changed little since the eighties, however. Even with fancier, mouse-driven interfaces, FTP is still somewhat awkward to use. However, this week I discovered a Windows FTP program that really simplifies the process. Best of all is its price: FREE.
To be sure, there are a number of FTP programs for Windows that use a mouse-driven, or GUI, interface. (GUI stands for "Graphical User Interface" and is pronounced "gooey." Most programs that use a mouse are referred to as GUI programs.) I have used a number of such programs, including WS_FTP_Pro, WS_FTP Lite, Filezilla, SmartFTP, FTP Explorer, and Putty. All are very good programs, and I would have recommended any of them until this week.
My new discovery is DataFreeway, created by Lukasoft Software. It supports standard FTP as well as the secure FTPS protocol. Best of all, on web servers that also support SSH (Secure Shell terminal access), you can also use that protocol in a manner that makes it look like Windows File Manger. (Normal SSH looks like a Dec VAX operator's console from the late 1970s.) I use SSH a lot but others who maintain web sites might go for years without needing SSH.
For the rest of this article, I will focus only on the FTP capabilities built into DataFreeway.
DataFreeway allows you to access remote servers from your Windows desktop in a manner that makes the server appear to be a part of your Windows desktop. You can open the server in one window, open File Explorer or other programs in a separate window, then drag-and-drop files back and forth from one window to another with ease. It is difficult to explain but very easy to accomplish. Sending files back and forth to a web server is as easy as copying from one folder to another on your local hard drive. I find it easier to use and more intuitive than any of the other FTP programs mentioned earlier.
I downloaded DataFreeway, double-clicked on the file, and followed the on-screen instructions, and the program was fully installed and operational within 30 seconds. Easy.
Best of all is the price: free. DataFreeway does not ask for payment or "beg" for voluntary payments. It does require you to register it within 21 days of first use, but registration is free.
One caveat: the producing company makes several products; some are free, and others require payment. All are registered on a single page. When I first saw the page, I thought it was asking for money. However, as I read closer and looked further down the page, I eventually found the section for registration of the free programs.
DataFreeway is a very useful program: easier to use than any of its competitors I have seen, easy to install, and available free of charge.
To learn more about DataFreeway, look at http://www.enginsite.com/ssh-webdav-ftp-sftp-client.htm. While you're at it, you might want to look at the program's user support forum at http://forum.enginsite.com/YaBB.pl .
You can download the free DataFreeway FTP and SSH program for Windows from http://www.enginsite.com/download/DataFreeway.exe