Get lightning speed with the new protocol tricks of Interarchy 10

Interarchy 10 is the newest version of Nolobe’s flagship, industry-strength FTP client. New is the iFTP transfer protocol, cloud capabilities and plug-in support. Improved are performance, net disks, Leopard support (Quick Look and Cover Flow), and support for most if not all network protocols.

Nolobe, Interarchy’s Australian developer, has been developing Interarchy for ages, and personally I know it from the pre Mac OS X days — that’s prehistorical times, really. Even back then, Interarchy (or Anarchy as it was known then) was considered to be the fastest FTP client out there.

In Mac OS X times, we have only two real mainstream contenders left with in this market space: Interarchy and Transmit by Panic Software. Earlier this year Transmit got its upgrade to version 4 and received a speed boost in the process, so I thought it would be nice to compare the two on the performance front. Was I in for a surprise! But let’s first go over Interarchy’s new features.

Interarchy 10 does plug-ins. To its developer that is a very important thing. To use mortals who understand FTP to be a network protocol without further exact technical knowledge, plug-ins will be great if others are jumping in and creating nice ones for us to download or buy. Nolobe has made sure, however, to include a good number of those plug-ins with Interarchy 10.

Plug-ins don’t change the way Interarchy works, or its looks. They are meant to directly interfere with your server. For example, one of the included plug-ins enables you to start and stop the Apache web server and to view its configuration. That’s great if you are a webmaster but it also makes it painfully clear that writing your own plug-ins can be dangerous stuff if you don’t know exactly what you are doing.

Nevertheless, plug-ins are unique to Interarchy 10 and do potentially dramatically extend the software’s functionality.

A second highlight for version 10 is iFTP. iFTP is another exclusive to Interarchy 10. It is built on top of FTP and SSH, and Nolobe claims it is secure and fast. iFTP enables you to ditch FTP, SFTP and WebDAV, according to the documentation. I tried replacing FTP with iFTP and was in for a big surprise. I can’t really tell whether iFTP is secure — if it’s built on top of SSH, I am sure it will be. What I can tell with certainty is that it is unbelievably fast, and I’m not exaggerating.

This is one test where I compared Transmit with Interarchy and because I couldn’t believe my test results at first, I went over them again, and then again. The conclusion was identical in all three test runs: Interarchy blows Transmit out of the water.

Here’s a table with the fastest results of both Interarchy and Transmit:

Test/App Interarchy 10.0 Transmit 4.0.6
Connect 00:04,27 sec 00.03,83 sec
Download 4.2 MB folder 02:06,40 sec 04:40,17 sec
Upload 4.2 MB folder 03:31,74 sec 08:56,67 sec

Pretty impressive in my opinion. Here’s a screencast of the speed comparison. It takes a good 7 minutes to view the boring progress bar of Interarchy and Transmit move along, but I started with the fastest of the two.

Other improvements you’ll see in Interarchy 10 are support for Leopard’s Quick Look and Cover Flow, improvements to Net Disks that makes them work much the same way as Transmit’s MacFuse based system. Net Disks are about the same speed as Panic Software’s counterparts. Interarchy 10 further supports the cloud with the addition of Google Storage and Rackspace Cloud Files to the already supported Amazon S3 service.

And Interarchy has support for almost every protocol in the book, including SCP, FTP, FTP/SSL-TLS, sFTP, SSH, WebDAV, WebDAVS, iDisk, Amazon S3, Google Storage, RackSpace Cloud Files, HTTP, HTTPS, and the new iFTP.

Due to its speed, working with Interarchy 10 is a nice experience; you tend to be so baffled by the performance you have little attention for anything else. However, even the first update after initial release has a couple of minor quirks. For example, Cover Flow works in a sense that you can view icons of files in Cover Flow but the thumbnails of the files seem not to be rendered, and the same happens with Quick Look: the spinning wheel keeps turning, but there’s no preview actually coming through — at least not on my system.

And one thing that I definitely like better in Transmit 4 is the progress bar. Interarchy 10 has no progress bar integrated in the main window. The only visual clue that you’re downloading or uploading something is a spinning icon in the tab — a bit like the one in Safari when it’s loading a page. The difference with Safari is that you’re not downloading several megabytes of file data; with an FTP client you often are, and when you are downloading or uploading a whole bunch of files it’s nice to know where in the process you are.

In order to find that out in Interarchy, you’ll have to open the Transfer window. That’s OK, but it would be nicer to have this information in the main window directly.

Overall, Transmit 4 has more eye candy than Interarchy 10. Interarchy 10 is unobtrusive, while Transmit 4 looks so good you want to touch it. Or put it differently: when I am transferring files with Interarchy 10 I gaze in awe at the progress bar in the Transfer window, while when I’m using Transmit 4 I enjoy every detail of the interface, but the lack of speed (and for the record: Transmit 4 is no slouch) can get on my nerves.

Which of the two? Interarchy 10 or Transmit 4?

One very important reason to choose Interarchy 10 is that it can handle transfers which sometimes go plain wrong with Transmit 4. In Transmit 4 you’ll regularly have stubborn listings that won’t refresh. You won’t have that with Interarchy 10.

And of course if you need the heavy loading in terms of protocol support and direct interaction with the server through plug-in scripts that Interarchy 10 can provide you with, there is only one possible choice.

Personally, I would like to have a copy of each. Transmit 4 for its extremely good looks and decent performance and Interarchy 10 for speed and when it really matters.

Interarchy 10 costs approx. 40.00 Euros.

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