FTP with Internet Explorer

If you have one of the more recent versions of Internet Explorer then you don't need a dedicated FTP program to perform your file transfers, you can use Internet Explorer as your FTP program instead.

To use IE as an FTP program, all we need to do is to type the address of the FTP server into the address bar instead of a web (HTTP) address and then either press the enter key or click on the Go button. For example let's say that we have a web site with Geocities and we want to access that via FTP. The ftp server for Geocities is ftp://ftp.geocities.com so by typing that into the address bar we can connect to our Geocities site. A dialog box will appear asking for our username and password to verify that we are authorised to access the site via FTP before the FTP server will open in our browser window. As web browsers assume that they are attaching to HTTP servers unless told otherwise, we cannot leave the ftp:// off of the front of the address the way that we are used to with leaving the http:// off of the front of web addresses.

We can actually go one better with this by supplying the username at the same time as we type in the server address. If your username is xyz123 then you can connect to your Geocities site by entering ftp://xyz123@ftp.geocities.com and then you will be prompted only for the password. You could in fact also enter your password into the address bar by entering a colon after your username and then entering your password before the @ but that would mean that your password would be stored in clear text and may be easier for crackers to obtain.

"But I don't have a web site with Geocities", I hear you say. Well it doesn't matter where your web site is as long as the hosting service provides FTP access you can use Internet Explorer as your FTP program. All you need to find out is the address of your site's FTP server, your username, and your ftp password and you are all set to go.

Once the FTP server window opens you will see a list of all of the files and sub-directories on your site just like you see when you open a folder on your own computer. What you can do with the contents of your browser window works just like a windows folder too. You can open, rename, move, copy, and delete the files in your FTP browser window just the same as if it were a folder on your own computer. You can even transfer files and sub-directories (sub-folders) between folders on your own computer and the FTP browser window and the same methods that work for selecting multiple files in your windows folders will also work with the FTP browser window.

If you are looking for a method of downloading a complete copy of your web site to your computer, this may be your easiest method. All you need do is "Select All" within the browser window and then select "Copy" then go to a folder on your computer where you want to download the site to and select "Paste".

Note: Depending on how any proxy server that your computer is connected through in order to access the internet, you may or may not be able to upload files to your web site using this method. If upload access is not permitted via this method by your proxy server, you will probably find that (unless you use a different proxy for your FTP access using a dedicated FTP program) your dedicated FTP program will not allow upload access either.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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