Anyone who runs a website will be familiar with FTP – the File Transfer Protocol is a means of getting files (typically HTML files) from your PC to your webserver. With an FTP client such as FileZilla or CuteFTP you can facilitate file transfer by entering your domain name or IP address, and your FTP username and password.
However not everybody uses an FTP client – you might for instance prefer to use Internet Explorer to transfer files via FTP, or even access FTP from the command prompt.
Windows 7 features two native methods for FTP; let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
FTP Through Internet Explorer
Using Internet Explorer, you can quickly and easily access FTP without resorting to downloading an FTP client.
To do this, open Internet Explorer. In the address bar, type:
ftp://username:firstname.lastname@example.org and tap enter. Note that you will need to enter your FTP username and FTP password as illustrated.
You’ll be presented with a new screen, where Internet Explorer will inform you:
To view this FTP site in Windows Explorer, click Page, and then click Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer.
Below this any available directories will be listed. Go to Page > Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer as instructed, click Allow when the warning box appears.
In Windows Explorer, your website will appear as a folder on your PC. You will now be able to browse the folders of your website, copy files to your PC and upload files to your site simply by copying and pasting or dragging from a different Explorer window. You can even change the individual file permissions via right-click > Properties.
This method of FTP access should suffice for the majority of people and Microsoft have made this method even easier to use in Internet Explorer 8.
FTP From Command Prompt
Some network security policies can disable access to FTP from Internet Explorer. In many cases this is a universal block on FTP, but some policies permit accessing FTP from the command prompt. Even if you’re based within your own home network you might choose to use the command prompt to access FTP if you prefer the text-based UI.
To access the command prompt in Windows 7, tap WINDOWS + R and type cmd; alternatively go to Start > Search and enter cmd there.
In the resulting black box – which harks back to the classic days of MS DOS – you will need to enter a series of commands to access your webserver via FTP.
Begin by entering:
the prompt will then change from
Open ftp.mywebsite.com. You will then be prompted first for your username and then your password; your password will not be displayed as you enter it, and neither will any ‘*’s, so enter it carefully.
Once you are connected (you will receive notification) of this tap the question mark symbol on your keyboard and tap enter. This will display a list of commands you can use with FTP in the command prompt. The most common of these are:
dir for directory
put to send files to your server
get to retrieve files from your server.
Note that when you first send an FTP command via the DOS prompt, Windows 7 will ask you to confirm your action. Any firewall software you have running might also alert you, so configure this appropriately.