WinSCP – file manager for secure transfers

winscp_icon After my host’s adventures in having their customers badly hacked in spirit of upping security they enabled secure SFTP access to files. I looked up plugin for my file manager and decided it was all better. Except that plugin performance was far from perfect – slow connections, CPU load spikes, mediocre transfer speeds.

So I gave up on it and decided to try WinSCP – open source file manager for transfers over secure protocols.

What it does

WinSCP connects to remote computers via one of supported protocols (SFTP, SCP, FTP) and allows to manipulate and transfer files in file manager fashion.


Curiously app offers two different interface styles:

  • classic dual-pane file manager with one pane dedicated to remote PC and one to local PC:
  • Explorer-like interface with single window for remote PC.

Strong features

App goes beyond file managing and packs a lot of related and simply convenient features:

  • synchronization features, including automatic sync of local folder to remote machine;
  • extensive command line options, I liked that I can instantly connect with specific saved profile, using its name as parameter;
  • external editor support with automatic file download an re-upload, see excellent tutorial on integrating Notepad++ with WinSCP; I think this supersedes my usual way of Notepad++ FTP plugin;
  • scripting support, my FTP backups with Cobian Backup had been slow because of large file quantity and this just might replace it after some tinkering;
  • execution of remote commands (with sufficient rights and configuration), predefined command examples include packing and unpacking files server-side;
  • multiply portable options – native, U3, PortableApps; manual lists some additional tweaks if you want to keep temporary files contained in app folder.


I have no real gripes so far.

If I had to choose something it would be messy configuration process with settings split between menus in initial screen and in core interface. It took me some time to look through everything and set it up the way I wanted.


Smooth experience and set of sophisticated functions. App is pleasure to use and works without resources and transfer hiccups.

Home http://winscp.net/

Download http://winscp.net/eng/download.php

PortableApps http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/winscp_portable

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  • Angelo R. #

    WinSCP definitely runs the full gamut as far as functionality, but it can be a bit daunting to a new user.
  • JeeMan #

    Been using WinSCP Portable for over a year, and I ditched filezilla and fireftp for this one. One other thing: when you log in with winscp, you can have it automatically start a putty window as well on that same server you just connected to. I know, it is a small thing, but I find that useful.
  • Rush #

    For my friends, I usually recommend filezilla. For myself, however, I also ditched it about a year or so ago for WinSCP. I like it.
  • Rarst #

    @Angelo Sure is, took me considerable chukn of evening to get through options for connection, shortcuts, default folders, etc. :) Will be even more fun when I get to scripting. @JeeMan @Rush I never got to trying FileZilla and now I probably won't. WinSCP is kind of app that just clicks with me. :) btw I think WinSCP is partly based on PuTTY code so integration is natural.
  • Francis #

    Yes, I downloaded WinSCP, it works nicely Just a short intro for future users: To install, download the zip file, unzip, then run the .exe file WinSCP is a separate application, not a plugin for Notepad++ To use WinSCP with Notepad++ (or any other editor...) go to: View > preferences > Editors click Add, browse for Notepad++, then use Up button to place Notepad++ before the internal editor To edit a file, browse, right click, select Edit
  • Rarst #

    @Francis Glad it works fine for you. And by the way I have linked to info on using it with Notepad++ in post. :)
  • Nathan Abraham #

    Great thorough post. Notepad++ is great. My problem is that I also have a WordPress site with a blog - and understand that Pages and Posts are inside the MySQL database for it. How are you editing and uploading/downloading Pages and Posts with WordPress - are you connecting to the MySQL database? If yes, how do you do that with WinSCP? My host's tech says an FTP cannot connect to a MySQL database.
  • Rarst #

    @Nathan Abraham Connecting and working with MySQL database is completely different than with files. There are specialized programs for that, like HeidiSQL.
  • Nathan Abraham #

    Thanks very much for the info about HeidiSQL. I am hoping to upload over time - many text files for my WordPress site Pages and Posts (keeping the latest copy on my PC) I wonder if you think using HeidiSQL is an efficient method to do that - or do you suggest a better way? Thanks again for your help.
  • Rarst #

    @Nathan Abraham I am not sure what you are precisely trying to do from your description. WordPress doesn't just accept text file as input for posts and you are not supposed to just put them into database directly either. You can try using desktop blogging client (I used to use Windows Live Writer, don't know if it is still alive) or try to look up plugin that will do what you need - poke plugin repository http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/importer
  • Nathan Abraham #

    Thank you again for your good help. Windows Live Writer looked possible, but you were right, it hasn't been supported for 2 years. I found WP CSV, a CSV importer and exporter for posts, pages...But I think your excellent post on NotePad++ may be best for me. I'm sorry my description of what I am trying to do was unclear. I am working with about 100 handwritten pages to go onto Wpress -and want to put them in a text editor and make backup copies -(thinking of using NotePad++ or another text editor) - and hoping to create an efficient way to get them onto WordPress. Is there an alternative to copying and pasting? Your suggestions are again appreciated
  • Rarst #

    @Nathan Abraham Sorry, I hadn't looked into solutions for plain text import.