A Presentation of WinSCP – Free SFTP, FTP and SCP Client For Windows

WinSCP is a Free open-source FTP, SFTP and SCP client for Microsoft Windows. It supports the standard FTP protocol to copy files between a local and a remote computer (FTP is potentially insecure as it has no encryption tools so all transmissions are in clear text) but also SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol or SSH File Transfer Protocol), which provides secure file transfer capability. It supports several encryption algorithms (AES, Blowfish, etc) and also has private keys available when you need to transfer sensitive data securely. It is very lightweight (10 MB of free disk space at most) and stable.

WinSCP runs on any Win32 system, which includes Windows 95, up to and including Windows 7. Although there are a few alternatives running natively on GNU/Linux, WinSCP can also be installed on this operating system through Crossover (it got a ‘Gold Medal award’, which means the application installs and runs as you would expect it to in Microsoft Windows) or Wine.

WinSCP main features are:

  • Choice of two graphical user interfaces (Windows Explorer-like or Norton Commander-like interfaces, the latter being more practical in our opinion);
  • Good Integration with Windows (drag&drop shell, URL, shortcut icons);
  • All common operation with Files are supported, such as navigating and searching, managing connections, changing file properties (permissions, ownership, etc) uploading and downloading, deleting, creating, duplicating and moving files and directories and direct editing through the integrated text editor;
  • Integrated text-editor: to edit a file from the server, just click on it to download the file to your computer, which is then automatically opened for editing and then saved and uploaded to your remote location.
  • Integrates with Pageant (PuTTY authentication agent) for full support of public key authentication with SSH.
  • Support for FTP, SFTP and SCP protocols; Support for SSH password, keyboard-interactive, public key and Kerberos (GSS) authentication;
  • Directory synchronization in several semi or fully automatic ways;
  • U3 package available (U3 allows the launching applications from specially formatted USB flash drives): note that some functions are not available when using this option.
  • Good documentation and forum.
  • Translated in over 30 languages (however, for some of them, the translations are not complete yet: these ones need to be downloaded separately).

One important feature in our opinion is if you want to save your session configuration (optional), including password, you have the possibility of setting up a master password in the preferences menu: your passwords are then protected by a strong AES Cipher (Advanced Encryption Standard ) and cannot be recovered easily. This means that you will need to enter your master password each time the program will need to access protected passwords, which can be a little annoying but is still worth it for the added security it offers.

One small warning however is that the WinSCP installer makes use of the OpenCandy advertising application, which pop-up advertisements during the software installation (not in the program itself). As some users may not feel comfortable with this, the documentation includes a dedicated web page about this, which first explains that this partnership provides revenue to the development team but that the “advertisement is only shown as a one step of software installation”, that “no unwanted software is installed” and that “no private information is collected” apart from “geolocation, operating system and language”. The documentation finally provides a link to the OpenCandy Privacy policy web page and on how to install the software without it (a simple parameter when starting the installation program or even more simple getting the executable version).

Quick specs:

  • Licence: GNU GPL (Free Software)
  • Operating system: Windows (also works on GNU/Linux using Crossover)
  • Version tested: 4.2.7
  • Price: free
  • Size: less than 10MB
  • Languages: over 30 languages (some only partially supported)
  • WinSCP website

Source by Christophe Marceau