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What is FTP?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is the traditional method for securely transferring files between a local computer (the client) and a remote computer (the server).

How is it different than SFTP?

At Bravenet, we encourage people to use SFTP ( Secure File Transfer Protocol). It functions similarly to FTP, but it encrypts all communication between the two computers, including the user's login and password. We do offer regular FTP (labeled 'Legacy FTP' in most areas) for compatibility reasons, but we highly encourage people to use SFTP instead when possible.

Our FTP and SFTP servers are located at the same addresses, and the same usernames and passwords work for either technology. By default we only allow SFTP connections, but you can enable FTP support if needed (see below!).

Risks and advantages to FTP

FTP is a older technology (it was developed in 1971!) so there's a fair number of programs, especially older ones, that support FTP but not SFTP. Additionally, since SFTP has to encrypt and decrypt your data, it is marginally slower, although with today's computers the difference is pretty small.

On the downside, FTP sends all information, including the login and password you use when connecting, in plain text, so that anyone can read it if they have access to the data passing between the server and the client. Many viruses are designed to capture FTP usernames and passwords, passing them on to organizations that use this information to spread further viruses and malware.

How does FTPS support differ?

FTPS is very similar to "SFTP" in operation. However, It uses a control channel and opens new connections for the data transfer. As it uses SSL, it requires a certificate. Like SFTP, FTPS encrypts all communication with the server, ensuring that your username, password and data are kept safe at all times. While FTPS works on port 21, you do not need to have legacy FTP enabled to take advantage of FTPS support.

Create an FTP account

First of all, you will need to have a Bravehost website. Once you've created a site (you don't need to put anything on it yet!), click on the SFTP tab of the Bravehost control panel. Then, click on the new sftp account link. Enter in a username and password, and make sure you check off the enable legacy FTP option, then click the create button.

Don't use the same password for your FTP account as you do for your Bravenet account!

Note that your username will have a number added to it. Use the entire username, including the number, when connecting.

Adding FTP support to an existing SFTP account

SFTP support is enabled by default on all accounts. If you need to enable the older FTP support to an existing account, click the edit button next to the account in the SFTP tab, then check the enable legacy FTP option. Save your changes when finished.

Note that legacy FTP support is not secure, and may lead to your FTP account information being compromised.

Log in to your FTP account

Once you've created an FTP account, you'll need a program that supports FTP to connect to that account (known as an FTP client).

When configuring the FTP client, it will ask your for your username, password, and the server or host address. You can find all this information under the SFTP tab of your account. If prompted for a port number, use the defaults - '22' for SFTP, or '21' for legacy FTP.

Using various FTP clients

Although we can't provide support for third-party programs, we've put together small guides on connecting to your FTP or SFTP account using several popular clients. Please see the program's official documentation for more up-to-date, official information.

  • WinSCP - Entirely free, available on Windows, simple and straightforward to use.
  • WS_FTP Professional - Paid, available on Windows, 30 day free trial available.
  • FileZilla - Entirely free, available cross-platform for Windows, Max, Linux.

Many programs that do all-in-one web design, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, publish their sites through FTP.