WS_FTP -- Advanced FTP Server for midrange to upper-range, small-office and business users
June 21, 2002
IPSwitch has always been known for its server-side software packages, as well as Internet software clients, such as WS_FTP LE, which is used by the majority of universities around the United States. Its two latest products in both fields keep up the tradition of high-quality, Internet-related software. WS_FTP Server v2.0 sells for $395, and WS_FTP Pro sells for $39.95 if downloaded, and $45 if purchased as a CD-ROM.
WS_FTP Server is one of the best known Windows FTP server available. It supports all FTP clients and Web browsers that comply with RFC 959 and 1123 standards, supports multiple hosts per machine (great feature for high-profile Web servers), SSL encryption for all of the sensitive data, unlimited number of user accounts, support of "re-gets," also known as resuming transfers, and FTP Permissions per folder. All of these features are "must haves" for most FTP Servers. The best feature of this FTP Server is its capability to use an existing user database for authorization, be it Windows NT, IPSwitch's IMail user database, or any other third-party ODBC external database. It also comes with a feature that allows an enterprise to create its own database.
The Server Manager for WS_FTP Server v2.0 is much like IPSwitch's other products. It has a Windows Explorer Panel on the left hand side of the screen, with the settings for the highlighted selection in the right hand side of the screen. If this server is installed on a huge system hundreds of miles away, or even just across the room, the administrator can copy a simple EXE from the install path and run it from any machine that has network access to the server to remotely manage the machine. This option is visible from the file menu.
Another valuable feature in WS_FTP Server is the scripting feature. Server administrators can script almost anything that needs to be done, saving them time, money, and bandwidth, not to mention nerves. Taking an example from the IPSwitch Web site: "An administrator who needs to update servers on a regular basis can write a command to "unzip" compressed files once they have been sent to a server, saving time and bandwidth during the transfer."
The WS_FTP user guide is 80 pages and filled with everything needed to get this software up and running with minimal hassle. The guide covers everything from software installation to server set up, and on to management and SSL configuration. It also has an appendix that highlights RFC 959 Commands and Replies.
WS_FTP Pro 6.6 FTP Client is a dream come true for both hardcore FTP'ers and beginners. On start-up, users are faced with the usual Explorer-style box, with stored FTP sites listed on the left, and configuration for the highlighted sight on the right (see the screen shot below). The actual FTP interface is very similar to WS_FTP LE, IPSwitch's free but less-feature-rich version of the same FTP client.
As for features, Pro v6.6 supports everything the above-mentioned server does including SSL for sensitive documents and files. Being a client piece of software, it must also have features that a server does not. WS_FTP Pro is one of the most advanced software packages on the market today in terms of features. It supports browser integration, meaning it will take over downloading all files from FTP. This is a very nice feature, as FTP transfers are typically faster than HTTP file transfers, and Pro v6.6 only makes them faster. The product also supports queuing, which saves time and nerves by automatically downloading files at set times. This is particular useful with downloads like antivirus updates. As the screen shot above shows, there is a firewall tab. PRO v6.6 has an advanced Firewall feature that makes FTP-ing through a firewall a breeze. Just enter the Firewalls Hostname/IP address, your user name and password, the firewall type, and port number, and you can forget about it for as long as you run the software.
The help file that comes along with WS_FTP Pro 6.6 is another asset among the many. It has the answers and tutorials that most users could ever ask for, plus so many more. The help file actually serves as the user manual for the software, so there is no need to waste paper to print off millions of user manuals. The best thing about WS_FTP Pro is its shear speed. While downloading a useless 30 MB file from my Web server at Pair Networks, back-to-back at the same time of the day, I got 5 percent faster transfer rates from WS_FTP Pro v6.6 than I did from the windows based FTP program, and WS_FTP LE.WS_FTP Server Pros: Easy to use, efficient to operate, small memory footprint
WS_FTP Server Cons: Expensive for average home and small business
WS_FTP Pro Pros: Fast, easy to use, affordable
Version Reviewed: 2.0/6.6