FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a well-established way to upload and download files online.

FTP client utilities (the programs you run on your Mac to connect to FTP servers) aren't exactly exciting, but they can be really useful. We don't use these things for general downloading much these days, but this is still the best way to move large files around.

If you ever do web design work of any description you'll recognise the need for a good FTP client. Even if your web software uploads for you you'll still find the need to look in yourself from time to time.

Anyone with WebDAV storage (and that's all of you with MobileMe accounts, by the way) should sit up and take note, especially if you use iWeb or iDisk. Apple's background updating takes an age to finish, but a good FTP utility can make life much better.

Support for Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is also useful for very large file-handling. The six programs in our test represent some of the best in this category, although there are others worth exploring too, if you have the time.

The evaluation of the different programs was done using a number of different tests, all cooked up to reveal each FTP's individual strengths and weaknesses in different situations. We looked at everything from speed and file management abilities through to syncing and automation. We also considered the interfaces, although not as part of a separate test.