Use WinSCP to securely copy files between two computers

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 9, 2007
Updated • Jan 10, 2013

I have received an email recently in which I was asked which program I'm using to transfer files between the local computer and the dedicated server the Ghacks website is hosted on. I made the decision to write about it as it was not as easy to answer as many would have probably thought it would be. I'm using two programs to connect to the dedicated server which serve different purposes.

I use the excellent Putty to connect to the server whenever I need to run commands on it. This may include the creation of new virtual hosts, ftp user accounts or configuration changes.

WinSCP on the other hand is the file transfer tool that I make use of to transfer files between the server and the local PC, and to edit files on the server directly. I use a secure connection for that for added security, and use the option for a variety of purposes.

I use it to backup files stored on the server for instance and also MySQL backups, to transfer updates to the server, or upload entire new websites to a new account that I have just created.

Today version 4 of WinSCP has been released as a beta. The main new features are ftp support (remember it supported SFTP before only) and SSH tunnel support. The SSH tunnel feature is not that important for me but the first is really nice.

The changelog for WinSCP 4.0 beta lists a lot of bug fixes and changes that would be to much to list here at my site. Just take a look at the changelog at the official site if this is really interesting for you.

What do you use to connect to a dedicated server? Remember that I'm still using Windows mainly which limits the choice of programs that I could use.


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  1. fredden said on April 16, 2007 at 1:32 am

    I use an scp client too, but I use the one that comes with cygwin. I load my key into my agent when I log into the machine, and from there on I’ve got password-less access to my servers. This is very handy as it means I don’t need to search through my password store to find what I the login details are for each host I want to connect to. It also means that I can turn off password authentication and avoid brute-force password attacks. I prefer bash (cygwin’s default shell) over cmd.exe and, as it offers me better tab-completion and other handy features.

  2. netking said on April 9, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I’m using WinSCP too for file transfers. Note that you have an option to launch Putty within WinSCP which is very handy. You just have to tell the path in the options.

    I’m also using NX Client for remote desktop connection (my server is on Ubuntu), wich is really nice and fast. So cool that I mostly use the shell terminal on remote instead of Putty.

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