Essential FTP Commands

Build your file-transfer arsenal

FTP is an important TCP/IP utility that lets you transfer files between systems. One of FTP's most compelling features is its compatibility with many different remote hosts: You can transfer files between remote Windows 2000, Windows NT, and UNIX systems, and even IBM hosts such as the AS/400. To start the text-based FTP utility that's supplied with Win2K and NT, simply enter ftp at the command prompt.

As you begin using the FTP shell, you'll quickly find that the following FTP commands are essential.

10. Help (or ?)—You can issue many FTP commands in multiple ways. Help and the question mark character (?), for example, perform the same function. If you're new to FTP, Help—which displays a list of all the supported FTP commands—is the command to start with. To obtain a brief description of a command, enter ? followed by the command name:

ftp>? open

9. Open—To start an FTP session, you typically use the Open command to connect to a specified FTP server. (The FTP service must be running on the remote host.) After you issue the Open command, the system prompts you for a user ID and password. Many FTP servers let you use an anonymous user ID and blank password to log on. To open a connection to a system named teca2, enter

ftp>open teca2

8. Quit (or Bye)—The Quit command ends any open sessions and exits the FTP shell:


(To end an open session without terminating the FTP shell, use the Close command.)

7. Pwd—The Pwd command displays the directory that your FTP session is currently connected to on the remote host:


6. Ls—The Ls command displays a list of the files and subdirectories that reside in the remote system's current directory. Ls helps you access remote files:


5. Cd—If the file you're looking for isn't in the remote system's current directory, you can use the Cd command to change directories. If you're connected to a UNIX system, you'll typically need to use a forward slash to identify the remote directory (in this case, the /downloads directory):

ftp>cd /downloads

4. Lcd—The Lcd command changes the current directory on the local system. The current directory is the default location to which the system will write any retrieved files. To change the current local directory to C:\temp, enter

ftp>lcd C:\temp

3. Bin (or Binary)—By default, FTP transfers files in ASCII mode, which is fine for text files. However, to transfer executable and .zip files, you need to use Bin to set the transfer type to binary:


(Use the Ascii command to set the transfer type back to ASCII.)

2. Put (or Send)—Use the Put command when you want to copy a local file to the remote host's current directory. To send a file named localfile.txt in the C:\temp directory to a remote system, enter

ftp>put C:\temp\localfile.txt

1. Get (or Recv)—You use Get to download files from Internet hosts (or other remote hosts) to the local system's current directory. To retrieve a file named remotefile.txt, enter

ftp>get remotefile.txt
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