NOTE: This isn’t a genealogy-related article although it is about some software that is used by a lot of genealogists. This article is an expanded version of a suggestion I posted in the comments section of the eogn.com web site in response to a reader’s mention of frustration with a certain FTP file transfer program.
Once you have created web pages in your favorite genealogy program, how do you transfer those pages to the web site you use to display that information? In fact, there are probably a dozen or more methods of doing that, depending upon the requirements of the web site you use. However, the most common method is to perform an FTP file transfer.
NOTE: FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol.” For a complete, although somewhat technical, explanation of FTP, see the Wikipedia article at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Transfer_Protocol
To use FTP, you need to install an FTP program in your computer. There are dozens of FTP programs available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Chromebooks, UNIX, Android, Apple iPhones and iPads, and other computer systems. Some of them are very easy to use while others seem to be overly cryptic, full of buzzwords left over from UNIX systems of the 1970s when FTP was first invented. If you are using a cryptic FTP program or if you are looking for your first FTP program, I have a suggestion for you: Cyberduck.
Cyberduck is a very powerful and yet easy-to-use file transfer program that is available for either Windows or Macintosh. It handles FTP file transfers as well as a bunch of other protocols: SFTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, Backblaze B2, Microsoft Azure & OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and some others. If you do not know what all those buzzwords mean, don’t worry about it! For this article, I will focus only on FTP.
Best of all, Cyberduck is available free of charge although there is an option to obtain the program with paid support from iterate GmbH, the company that produces Cyberduck, for $23.99 US. I suggest you start first with the free version. If you later decide you want to use the support from the producing company, you can always upgrade at any time. You can download Cyberduck online and start using it to upload and download files within the next ten minutes or so.
Installing Cyberduck is as easy as using it: download the Cyberduck installation file, double-click on the newly-downloaded file, and it installs itself. Cyberduck will be ready for use within a minute or two. Once launched, you will have to specify some information about the server(s) where you store your web pages or information about any other servers you wish to use, such as Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Docs, or others. You will have to enter the user name and password you use to access each server. From then on, Cyberduck looks and feels a lot like Windows File Explorer or Macintosh Finder, programs you probably already know how to use.
The Cyberduck user interface may be used in several different ways. I find it easier to use it in conjunction with Windows File Explorer or Macintosh Finder. I normally start by using Windows File Explorer or Macintosh Finder to locate the files I wish to upload to the server. Next, I open Cyberduck in another window, connect to the server, and then navigate to the place where the files are to be stored. At that point I simply drag-and-drop the files to be uploaded from the Windows File Explorer or Macintosh Finder window to the Cyberduck window.
Cyberduck also works well in the other direction: DOWNLOADING files from the server to your Macintosh or Windows computer. You can store your user names and passwords for the servers you use within Cyberduck so that it will connect automatically when you wish to transfer files. However, for security purposes, some people prefer to not store user names and passwords in their computer. Cyberduck works either way. If you do not store user names and passwords within the Cyberduck program, it will simply ask you to enter that information when you try to connect to the server.
I prefer to store user names and passwords within Cyberduck on my desktop computer at home, but I do not store them in the copy of Cyberduck installed on my laptop computer. Laptops are easily stolen when traveling. I don’t want the thief to have easy access to the inner workings of my servers! Therefore, the copy of Cyberduck installed in my laptop prompts me for the required user name and password before it connects to a server.
Cyberduck also has dozens of other options. I won’t cover all of them here. However, I found the online help within the program answers all of my questions. If you want to read more about Cyberduck’s many capabilities before you download and install the program, go to the Cyberduck Help files at: https://trac.cyberduck.io/wiki/help/en. Those are the same files that you will be reading when you install and use the program. The Help files are available in a number of languages. A Cyberduck Quick Reference Guide is also available at https://trac.cyberduck.io/raw-attachment/wiki/help/en/Cyberduck%20Quick%20Reference.pdf.
The program is open source, but you will be prompted to make a donation each time a new version is released. In my experience, updates are released about once every three or four months. I can live with that occasional “beg screen.” Of course, if you pay $23.99 for the version that includes full support from iterate GmbH, the company that produces Cyberduck, you will never see the pop-up messages that suggest you purchase support.
All in all, I must say that I am pleased with Cyberduck. Unlike some other FTP programs, Cyberduck is easy-to-use. It supports drag-and-drop to and from Windows Explorer or Macintosh Finder. An extra “bonus” with Cyberduck is that the program will also upload and download files to all sorts of services. You can use it to upload and download files to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 (which I use a lot), and a number of other online file services.
That’s not bad for a FREE program!
Cyberduck is an open source program. That is, anyone able to read source code can download and read the full source code. That minimizes the risk of viruses or malware hiding within the program. If you have programming skills, you can even modify the source code yourself and re-compile it to create your own customized version of Cyberduck.
To obtain Cyberduck, first decide which of the four versions you want:
Cyberduck’s FREE versions for Windows and for Macintosh are both available at: https://cyberduck.io/?l=en
Cyberduck’s paid version for Windows with full support from the producing company is available for $23.99 (US dollars) in the Microsoft Windows 10 Store at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/Cyberduck/9nblggh43htb
Cyberduck’s paid version for Macintosh with full support from the producing company is available for $23.99 (US dollars) in the Macintosh App Store. To obtain it, click on the App Store icon in the system tray on the bottom of your Mac’s screen.
I suggest you start first with the free version found at: https://cyberduck.io/?l=en
Cyberduck certainly is not the only FTP program available. However, I have been using it for years and still remain impressed with its capabilities and ease of use. In fact, while writing this article I realized just how valuable it is to me. I decided to support the producing company financially. A few minutes ago, I paid $23.99 for the Cyberduck version with full support. I hope iterate GmbH, the company that produces Cyberduck, will remain in business for a long, long time.