Best FTP client for Web developers – ExpanDrive Review
This article is also about How to Connect to FTP Servers in Windows
When you get started with web development and wants to host your first website in some hosting company’s server, one of the first things you would need is an FTP client to transfer your website’s files from your computer to the hosting company’s server.
You search online for an FTP client and you end up with one of the popular FTP clients, and from that point, you would only use that particular client for perhaps the rest of your career as a web developer.
The thing is that most of these FTP clients are not well designed. They have very ugly UI, and each time you need to make some changes to the files, you need to open this FTP client, then choose the server, then wait for the FTP client to initialize and make a connection, and then you will be able to use the client.
But even then, it is a hassle. Sometimes the connection falls apart in between, and you need to reconnect before the FTP client is able to transfer your files. Then, it is not possible to intuitively copy paste content from the FTP client to your computer or vice-versa. Most FTP clients don’t even allow you to copy paste content within the server, that is you cannot copy a file in the server to another place in the same server. You can only copy between the server and the client. That’s all.
Using such an FTP client is fine for tasks which you do once in a while, but when you need to use that software every day, and you need to sometimes make changes to the files directly on the server, this becomes a headache to use.
I tried a lot of FTP client software from the most popular Filezilla to a lesser popular Mobaxtream. All of them suffer from a similar set of problems. Yes, they work as intended, but that’s all.
Yet, in all web development tutorials, these kinda softwares are the recommended solution to transfer files to the web host. In this article, I would like to suggest an alternative way of doing things, and it is significantly more user friendly than the FTP clients I mentioned above.
As you may have already noticed from the title, I am talking about ExpanDrive. It is not even advertised as an FTP client because that is not its main feature. It is more of a solution to attach cloud drives to your computer. It works with both Mac and Windows.
We can use something like git for bigger projects and thus you only need to push code to the server and not worry about the file system at all, but that is not easy to do in case of several small websites spread over several servers which are better managed from a file explorer than Git.
Now, the thing is that Windows Explorer already supports FTP without requiring additional software, but it is very rudimentary and it doesn’t have any option to use SSH or SFTP. The regular FTP is not secure, so it is recommended to always use SFTP.
What we intend to do is to is to have an ability to access, edit, delete, modify the files in your web hosting in the exact same way as if those files were in your PC. There should be no hassle of transferring files, or using third party software. You should be able to open your favourite editor and directly edit the files in your web host.
The best way to do that in my opinion is to install ExpanDrive, and then connect it to your webhost using the SFTP option. This will create a virtual drive in your computer, and whenever you need to edit something, just go to this drive and edit it. As simple as this.
If you have ever used Dropbox, this is similar to that, and such a workflow is excellent for managing dozens of small websites hosted on low-cost VPS servers.
Now, you may be thinking there is this other software which can also do this. You might be correct, but I have not experienced such a smooth no-frills software that does it better than ExpanDrive.
For example, some invisible features, like ability to searh files in you webhost from the search bar in the file manager, or the auto synch as soon as you go online, or super fast background upload are the things which set ExpanDrive apart from other such software.
Link to ExpanDrive website – https://www.expandrive.com/