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Review - ViaFTP for Mac

ViaFTP by Naarak Studio is a handy and powerful file manager for OS X with a tremendous user interface that makes it effortless to use.

FTP, the file transfer protocol, predated the web and its hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) by some 20 years, with FTP being defined in 1971. Like email, FTP has become a mainstay of the Internet. 40 years on, FTP still provides an essential function in moving files around.

FTP is the dominant mechanism for deploying web applications to hosted servers, it is used by media organisations for transferring massive files which would simply break email, and it is and can be used by home users or businesses alike simply to move files between computers, to push content to Internet servers, to download programs, media and other files.

What you need to make this happen is a good FTP client. Your web browser typically will support the FTP protocol to an extent, but it's not a good client, presenting a fairly rudimentary, even abysmal, experience. The command-line FTP client is available for those who know how to use it - and who know it exists at all - but doesn't allow you to bookmark servers, to save credentials, to easily compare visually the files between your local and remote folders.

Here's where ViaFTP by Naraak Studio comes in. This is an FTP client for OS X which mixes powerful features with a distinctive clean and functional user interface. In fact, it is quite a gorgeous and elegant application to look at and use.

ViaFTP does what you expect - it lets you connect to remote FTP and SFTP servers and upload and download files, dragging-and-dropping, bookmarking servers and the like.

ViaFTP also does what you wouldn't expect - it handles WebDav servers, Amazon S3 servers, LAN Bonjour servers, and even to upload videos directly to YouTube. It will create the HTTP URL of files you select allowing you to easily share them via URL. It stores and shows your history and trace log, stores the credentials of multiple FTP accounts and allows you to have multiple simultaneous transfers happening across different servers.

The developers state they put effort and thought into ViaFTP's user interface and this shows. The app also provides a wealth of functionality. It has in-built zip, rar, gz and tar support. It has fast file searching on both your local and remote machines. You can customise many elements of the interface via preferences. You can edit remote files to make quick changes. You can compare files and folders swiftly and only upload or download what has changed, saving bandwidth and time. The list of features goes on.

ViaFTP comes with a 14-day fully functional free trial, or can be purchased for $19 for use by one user on one computer. For only $7 more - $26 - you can buy a single user license with lifetime upgrade protection, giving you all future versions, and would represent good value and insurance.

For businesses or people with multiple computers a group license can be purchased which begins at $11.49.

Nicely, you don't even need to spend a cent depending on your needs. If you can live with just bookmarking one server (at least, one at a time) and only working with one remote server at a time, then ViaFTP Lite will serve your needs admirably at no charge. This freeware version of ViaFTP offers all the above functions except these two restrictions.

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.