What is SFTP?

SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, or SSH File Transfer Protocol depending on who you ask. It is a method for securely transferring files between a local computer (the client) and a remote computer (the server). It is very similar in operation to the older FTP standard.

How is it different than FTP?

SFTP is very similar to FTP (short for File Transfer Protocol) in operation. However, SFTP encrypts all communication with the server, ensuring that your username, password, and data are kept safe at all times. The older FTP protocol did not do this encryption, so anyone with access to the client or the server's network could easily read the transferred information, including usernames and passwords.

In addition, SFTP and FTP are pretty different internally, which means that not all FTP client programs support SFTP yet.

Create a SFTP 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 FTP Hosting tab of your Bravehost control panel, and then on the SFTP tab. Then, click on the new sftp account link. Enter in a username and password, then click the create button.

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

You can also restrict access to a portion of your website in this window; see below for more details. Additionally, if you need to use regular FTP, you'll need to check the Enable Legacy FTP option.

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

Changing your password

You should change your passwords regularly, every few months if not more often. The shield icon next to your SFTP account indicates how long it's been since you last changed your password. If it's red, you should definitely update your password soon!

To change your password, click the password button next to the SFTP account you want to change. Enter your new password and confirm it, then click the update button.

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

Enable legacy FTP support

SFTP support is enabled by default on all accounts. If you need to enable the older FTP support, you will need to click the enable legacy FTP option in the new SFTP account dialog, or click the edit button next to an existing SFTP account and enabling it there.

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

Restrict access to a portion of your site

You can create multiple SFTP accounts, each with access to different areas of your websites and logs.

By default, a new SFTP account will have full access to your websites and logs. When creating a new account, or changing the settings in the edit window, you can change the base directory of your account.

For example, lets say you have two sites, example.com and test.com, and you want to create one SFTP account that only has access to example.com and another SFTP account with full access to both sites. You would adjust one of the accounts to have /web/example.com as the base path (click on the web link, then on the example.com link in the popup window), and leave the other account with default settings. Now, when someone logs into the restricted account, they can only see the files on example.com.

Log in to your SFTP account

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

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

Using various FTP and SFTP clients

Most graphical FTP clients also support SFTP. 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.

  • FileZilla - Free, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Many programs that do all-in-one web design, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, also support SFTP.

Bravenet Java client

You can connect securely to your SFTP account using the Bravenet SFTP Java applet. Just click the SFTP Applet button next to the account you wish to connect to. You'll be asked for your password; just enter your SFTP password here.

Depending on your version of Java, you may get a Java security prompt. Read through the warning, but it is safe to allow the applet to save data, so you should click No when asked if you want to block the applet.

After this, you will see a message about the host key. This key identifies our servers, and so you can hit accept and save to continue logging in. This will save the key so you won't be prompted about this again unless our key changes.

Forgot your username/password?

If you forget your username, you can always find it on the SFTP tab of your Bravenet account. Don't forget that you need to enter the whole username including the numbers!

If you forget your password, there's no way to retrieve it. You should go through the procedure for changing your password listed above.