I download files via FTP almost every day, and I admit that I often do it by opening a command-prompt window and using Window NT's command-line-based FTP client. Using the FTP client is a quick-and-dirty way to get things done, but when you are trying to retrieve a file buried within a half dozen or more directories, the FTP client is a little difficult to use. And retrieving hard-to-reach files is often the case when you download files from Microsoft's FTP site.

When trying to download files buried within directories, I crack open Ipswitch's WS_FTP Pro. WS_FTP is probably the best known of Windows FTP clients, and the commercial version from Ipswitch adds a bunch of usability features for $37.50. These features make the product easier to use than Ipswitch's freeware WS_FTP, and they improve performance.

I never have any problems using what Ipswitch calls the classic interface. This dual-pane window lets users traverse directory structures on both the client and the host in a standard directory tree.

The newest version, WS_FTP Pro 6.0, adds the WS_FTP Pro Explorer, which gives you a Windows Explorer-like view of the target system. This feature makes accessing an FTP site as easy as getting the file from the LAN. A simple double-click on the target FTP site opens it up in the Explorer window with the files and directories on the remote server looking like local files and directories. You can transfer the files to the local machine, drag them from the server window to your desktop, or treat the files as if they were already on the local machine (depending, of course, on the rights and permissions granted to users of the FTP server).

A dedicated FTP client makes life easier than if you try to use the built-in NT FTP client or make your Web browser serve double duty as your FTP client. Every user's toolkit should include WS_FTP Pro.

WS_FTP Pro
Contact: Ipswitch * 781-676-5700
or 800-793-4825
Web: http://www.ipswitch.com