Filezilla client

FileZilla is a popular cross-platform FTP and SSH client. Being cross-platform, I use it both at home on Linux and on the road using the Portable App version on a USB stick.

The FileZilla project produces both client and server software. These notes discuss the client; the server is documented separately.

INSTALLATION
On Linux, use your distribution’s package manager to locate, download, and install FileZilla client.

On Windows, download FileZilla client from the project site and install in the usual way.

A Portable Apps version is available for Windows; download and install it as you would any Portable App.

CONFIGURATION
FileZilla’s settings are found at Edit – Settings. Non-default settings I usually set are:

  • Transfers – File exists action – Uploads: Overwrite file if source file newer
  • Interface: Enable “Show the Site Manager on startup”
  • Interface – Date/time format – Date formatting and Time formatting: ISO 8601 (on my Linux box, selecting system default does not work)
  • Interface – File Size Format: Binary prefixes using SI symbols; use thousands separator
  • File Editing: Use filetype associations if available; Watch locally edited files and prompt to upload modifications
  • Update Check: On Linux, disabled. On Windows, enabled.

In the Portable Apps version I also set:

  • File Editing – Default Editor: Use custom editor, and set path to my Portable Apps code editor. TODO: Document how to set the path without hardcoding a drive letter and causing failure when the drive letter mapping changes. Perhaps use %drive% instead of X:? Perhaps ignore the problem here and use the next setting?
  • File Editing – Filetype associations: Disable “Inherit system’s filetype associations”. Set paths to my Portable Apps code editor and image viewer.
  • Update Check: Disabled.

Now add your sites. Open the Site Manager (File – Site Manager). Press “New Site” and add data as appropriate. Test your settings. Repeat for each of your sites.

MIGRATING SETTINGS TO ANOTHER INSTALLATION
Configuration only has to be done once. File – Export allows you to export your settings to an XML file which can then be imported into another instance of FileZilla (File – Import). For example, I set up FileZilla on my home box as I desired, then imported its settings into my Portable Apps installation.

SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS
FileZilla saves per-user configuration and data in the following locations:

  • Linux: ~/.filezilla/
  • Windows (Portable App): %drive%\PortableApps\FileZillaPortable\Data\settings\

All files are plain text, which has security implications. Files with sensitive data include:

  • filezilla.xml and recentservers.xml: Host, user name, and password of recently accessed sites
  • sitemanager.xml: Host, user name, and password of every site saved in the Site Manager

If this behavior is unacceptable, encrypt the partition where FileZilla saves those files, or do not have FileZilla remember passwords. This is particularly important with FileZilla Portable, given that a USB device is easily lost.

BACKING UP
Add the following files to your backup set:

  • bookmarks.xml (bookmarks)
  • filezilla.xml (configuration settings)
  • sitemanager.xml (Site Manager data)

Some of these files potentially contain sensitive data, so secure your backup set from prying eyes.

These notes refer to Filezilla client 3.5.3 and were last updated 19 January 2012.

ALTERNATIVES TO FILEZILLA
gftp is another good FTP and SSH client (Linux only).

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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