FTP on the Mac
06/01/09 14:17 Filed in: Macintosh
Nolobe Software’s Interarchy is a robust FTP application for the Macintosh.
The idea of using specialised software application to handle downloading files has faded into the background of modern Internet use. Every browser running on a modern operating system is capable of downloading almost anything that you can see on a web page and will choose the right set of protocols to make it happen.
Just click on download and it happens. What could be simpler?
These browser initiated download connections are usually managed using one of two protocols, either HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), the umbrella protocols that govern most of the visible web or FTP (File Transfer Protocol), an older protocol that governs the specific transfer of files from one point to another.
Even the MacOS now has FTP built in under the hood, and the Finder can download, though not upload files that require the protocols.
So why on earth would you need software to handle FTP?
As it turns out, I've been having some interesting experiences lately that have led me to work with a range of FTP tools to manage my website.
All this began when my website began to weigh in at over 100MB and the FTP function of Rapidweaver, the web creation tool that I use, broke. The site has just kept growing (it's now up to 900MB) and I've had to explore alternate methods of updating it on GoDaddy.
Fortunately, Rapidweaver allows you to export a full copy of the website to your local drive, which makes updating incremental files quite a bit easier than trying to hoist the whole cantankerous mess up onto the net every week.
Fortunately, through ancient history and some software bundle purchases, I've ended up owning more than one FTP software application, and I've been giving them a right hammering over the last few months.
Heavy lifting champion
Interarchy is one of the oldest FTP software applications in existence on the Mac, having begun life decades ago as Anarchie. I bought this beast more than six years ago to handle some complex downloading tasks and version 7 still runs properly on 10.5 on a G4.
This is the only FTP software that I've worked with that also handles HTTP downloads, which is enormously useful if you need to pull down a file that's hundreds of megabytes in size, and your web browser is being a bit wonky.
I recently added a stock photography section to my website that required uploading more than 500 megabytes worth of files and every other tool I use for uploading kept losing the connection. Interarchy just plodded through my lame upload speeds, churning away until the files were on the web server, finishing the job when other FTP clients kept timing out.
It isn't particularly sexy and there's a lot of barely concealed geeky power under its menus, but I may yet have to spend some money to get this beast updated to v9 and full compatibility with my MacBook.
Double check champion
Fetch has been around the block for a long, long time as well. What it does remarkably well is to mirror folders. Interarchy does this as well, and may well be doing it a whole lot better in current versions, but I really like the Fetch way.
Basically, you point a folder on your computer at a folder on the web server and let Fetch go at it. The software will successfully reconcile both folders in a direction you decide on until they are both identical. This takes a long, long time on my slow upload connection, but it's thorough.
Fetch also deletes remote folders with lightning speed and I find myself turning to it whenever I need to clean up the web server folders.
Forklift, which is a blunt clone of Panic's Transmit, has the same useful dual pane view that makes incremental updates really easy to do. Very often, all I need to do is push two small files to the web server to update a blog or correct a coding error and Forklift allows me to look at the local folder and the remote folder and copy just what I need to update the website. So fixes and updates can be accomplished in seconds rather than an hour or more.
Cyberduck is free. It works.
If you have minor FTP needs, say downloading the occasional huge file that requires the FTP protocol, you could do far worse than to assign Cyberduck priority as your system's FTP client of choice.
I could probably do everything that I split between Interarchy, Fetch and Forklift with Cyberduck, but it wouldn't be as effortless or as pleasant.
Since the original posting, there’s been a comment about the value of Transmit.
This is what I posted in response...
Okay, the comparison shouldn't be diluted to just a "this is a clone of that." That's just a fob off and a bit of laziness on my part.
I downloaded Transmit and tried it out, using it to post this update to the posting. If I were looking for a dualpaned ftp client, chances are that I would have gone with the mature product, which happens to be Transmit.
Since I ended up owning Forklift as part of a software bundle, I can note that it does add QuickLook to the mix, a feature that I've found myself using to quickly double check whether I have the right file for upload. As a result, I don't feel as if I'm missing out on anything.
That said, I've had two months of experience working with Forklift and fifteen minutes worth of bashing around in Transmit with which to make the comparison, so I may well be missing something valuable that Transmit offers. Transmit cost and link has been added.
Cyberduck US$0 (donations accepted)