Problems with FTP

Why can't I upload files using FTP?

The most common cause of FTP problems is that passive FTP transfer mode is not turned on in your FTP program. "Passive mode" is usually needed:

  • If you use a DSL or cable modem; or
  • If you use some kind of Internet sharing device or software to connect multiple computers to the Internet using one ISP connection; or
  • If you use a personal firewall on your computer, or you're connecting from a company or ISP network that uses a firewall.

(There may be other situations where it's needed, too — try the solution below even if you don't think you fall into any of these categories.)

"Passive mode" is especially likely to be the problem if your FTP program seems to connect to our server, but is then unable to transfer a file or show a list of files. It's also the problem if you see an error message mentioning a "PORT" command.

Turning on passive FTP transfer mode

To solve these kinds of connection problems, turn on passive FTP transfer mode in your FTP program.

Regardless of the FTP program you are using, it almost certainly has a checkbox to turn on "passive mode" in either the connection setup screen or the program preferences screen. Consult the documentation for your FTP program if you're unsure how to do it. (Look for the words passive or PASV in the settings; the checkbox is often labeled "PASV FTP" or something similar.)

Turning on passive mode almost always fixes FTP connection problems.

What if FTP still doesn't work?

The first thing we recommend is turning off any firewall software as a test (this includes the Norton AntiVirus  "Internet Worm Protection" feature, which is really a firewall). If this fixes the problem, consult your firewall's documentation or support to learn how to allow FTP connections with the firewall turned on.

If it doesn't help, try disabling SSL/TLS encryption in your FTP program if you've enabled it. Encryption is not compatible with all firewalls. 

If that doesn't solve it, try connecting to a completely different public FTP server. This will show whether the problem is just with the connection to our FTP server or if your computer is having problems connecting to any FTP servers. An example of a public FTP server is:

  • Server hostname: ftp.earthlink.net
  • Username to use: anonymous
  • Password to use: anonymous

If your computer cannot connect to that server, then either your FTP software is not working correctly, or something on your computer (probably a firewall or other security software) is blocking all FTP connections. You may want to try using other FTP software such as the free  FileZilla.

If you still having problems connecting, try making a text connection as described in the next section.

Try a text connection to our servers

These instructions explain how to make a text-based connection to our servers, mimicking what your FTP program usually does invisibly. This allows you to see exactly what response our servers send back to your FTP program, and we can use that information to determine the source of the problem.

You can do this in a few easy steps:

1. Enable telnet (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8)

Telnet is not installed by default on Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8, so you may need to install it. You can skip this step if you use Windows XP or Mac OS X.

  • Click the Windows Start button, then choose Control Panel. (In Windows 8, type control panel at the Start screen and press enter.)
  • Choose Programs (this may be called Programs and Features).
  • Choose Turn Windows features on or off.
  • Check the Telnet Client checkbox.
  • Click OK, then finish the installation.

2. Open a command window.

To open a command window:

  • If you're using Microsoft Windows 7 or earlier, click the Start button, then choose All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt,  which will open a new window with a black background.
  • With Windows 8, type command prompt at the Start screen and press enter.
  • With Mac OS X, open the "Terminal" application.

3. Type a "telnet" command.

Once the command window is open, type this text (use your own domain name) and press "Enter":

telnet ftp.yourdomainname.com 21

You should see these two lines (among others) in the response:

220-This is a private system - No anonymous login
220 You will be disconnected after 2 minutes of inactivity.

If you don't see these lines in the response, contact us and let us know exactly what you do see, because it means that something is blocking your computer's connections to our FTP server. Please be sure to copy and paste all of the command window text into your message to us, since it's all important. We'll do our best to help you figure out what's causing the problem, although in some cases you may need to ask your network administrator.

(By the way, you can just close the command window when you're finished with the tests above.)

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