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Set Up Guides - FTP Troubleshooting

Symptom : General, can't connect at all.

It is always a good idea to double check all the settings and in particular double check that the caps lock is off when you are entering the password.

Check out either our general guide or our guides to some of the popular ftp programs from the useful guides main menu to double check the settings you are using and where they should be entered. Even if the guides are for older versions the principle should be the same and will allow you to check that everything is correctly entered.

Symptom : Connected, but can't see any files or get an error when opening the data connection (ie. error opening ASCII mode data connection) but can only see readme.txt file.

If you seem to connect but then nothing happens and you do not get a directory listing this is most likely that either your ftp software is set to connect via passive ftp (rather than active ftp) in which case consult your ftp software manual/site and make sure it is set so that passive ftp is disabled.* See below for explanation on passive and active ftp.

If it still does not work contact support and get them to check that ftp is working when they test it. They will use the same settings as you and connect the same way so that they can confirm that everything at this end is working correctly. Once you get this confirmation continue with the following;

If the ftp test by support is successful it is likely that your firewall is not set to allow this traffic back in (ie it thinks it is an attempted intrusion). Most modern firewalls are smart enough to work this out but some that have not been set up correctly can cause problems with servers that have been set up to run in the most secure way. FTP will still work with hosts that have their servers set so that anything is allowed above port 1024 but we like to run a very secure network which unfortunately is less forgiving with firewall's that have not been set up correctly.

It should not be too difficult to fix however and normally if you can access the firewall's log files and look for dropped/blocked packets destined for port 20 you will see what is happening.

Step one - If you are able to, disable your firewall (just long enough to test it and then switch it back on again) and try again. This will tell you if it is definitely a firewall issue.

If it works it is definitely the firewall doing it. The configuration to fix it will vary but the principle is as follows;

You either need to set the firewall so that all established TCP traffic is allowed back in (even though technically this is not a connection that was initiated from within the network normally this is all it needs to help the firewall in recognising that the traffic is legitimate).

Alternatively allow all TCP traffic in that has a destination of port 20.

* The following may also be useful.

What is the difference between passive and active FTP?

FTP is an unusual protocol in that it uses two ports, one for commands and the other for data. (This is one of the reasons it is superior to HTTP for transferring large files.) Active FTP was invented first. The client initiates a connection on the server’s command port. The server then initiates a connection with the client from its data port. With Passive FTP, the client initiates both connections with the server, which remains “passive”.

Active FTP may cause problems if your client is behind a firewall. From the firewall’s point of view, the FTP server that is trying to initiate a connection with your client looks like an intruder and is usually blocked. This is why many users have difficulty using FTP to download files from behind a firewall.

Passive FTP solves this problem, but creates other problems, notably where FTP server security is concerned. The server must listen on a large number of ports. This requires the firewall to let a lot of unqualified traffic through. Most firewall administrators do not like this.

As a rule, you do not need to be concerned about passive and active FTP unless you administer an FTP server or a firewall. If you experience difficulty using your FTP client from behind a firewall, this is likely the reason. You should discuss the matter with your firewall administrator if possible.

Symptom : You can view the files and download them but cannot delete them.

Please contat support and get them to check that FTP is working when they test it. They will use the same settings as you and connect the same way so that they can confirm that everything is working correctly at our end.

 
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