FTP access from Browser: Working method

Although one generally accesses an FTP server via a dedicated FTP client, there are several ways to connect to an FTP server. Among these, one of the simplest involves accessing directly from a browser.

The FTP connection via a browser is mainly used when one wants to download or view files stored on a public FTP server (with anonymous access).

Let’s see how.

What is an FTP Server

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a network protocol used to transfer files between a client and a server. Through an FTP server, files can be stored on a remote computer and accessed from any computer connected to the Internet.

Before delving into the discussion on how to access from a browser, it is worth pointing out the following: to transfer (download, upload or edit) files between computer and secure FTP server, which requires a username and password, it is best to use one of the following solutions:

1. an FTP client programme (such as the FileZilla or WinSCP client or the FireFTP plugin) to connect to the FTP server.

2. configure the operating system so that it can access an FTP server without having to use a dedicated FTP client.

3. Map/assign a drive letter to the FTP shared folder for easy access. Create a direct link to a specific FTP folder on your computer, assigning it a drive letter

How to access the FTP server with an FTP client

A third-party FTP client can be used to access an FTP server. The FTP client is a programme that is installed on your computer to connect to the remote FTP server to upload or download files.

There are many different FTP clients, both free and paid. Among the best known are FileZilla, WinSCP, CyberDuck.

Once you have chosen and installed an FTP client, you must configure it with the address of the FTP server to which you want to connect.

How to configure the FTP server from the browser

As mentioned above, one can also connect to the FTP server from the browser, and there are several ways of doing this.

Apart from the feasibility of this, it should be noted that a dedicated FTP client offers greater security, more functionality and control. Furthermore, some browsers may not support FTP access or may require the installation of plugins or extensions to enable it.

For instance, starting with Chrome 88, Google Chrome removed support for accessing FTP directly through the browser.

In any case, provided the browser supports FTP access, the easiest way is to type the address of the FTP server in the browser’s address bar.

To access the FTP server directly from web browsers, one must enter the address in the browser’s address bar with one’s credentials. Once logged in, you can access resources and transfer files to and from the server.

Open the Internet browser and, in the address box, type the host name (or IP address) of the FTP server and the FTP port number (if the FTP server uses a port other than the default port ’21’ for FTP connections) and press Enter.

For example, if the FTP server is located at ftp://test.com, simply type this into the address bar and press Enter.

If the server does not allow anonymous access, it asks you to enter credentials (username and password).

If you know the login credentials, you must use the string “ftp://username:password@hostname” to connect directly.

Another way to access the FTP server is to use a Web-based FTP client. To use a web-based FTP client, one must first go to the client site (e.g. http://www.website.com/ftpclient), enter the address of the FTP server and the login credentials (username and password).

Uploading and downloading files from the FTP server

Once the FTP server is set up, there are two ways to access it from the browser:

  • from a web interface
  • from an FTP client.

Uploading and downloading files via a web interface is easy: just log into your FTP account and enter the file directory. From there, you can upload or download the various files.

To use an FTP client, on the other hand, you must first download and install it on your computer, launch the client and enter your username and password to establish the connection, browse files on the server and transfer them to your computer.

There are various online services for FTP access from the web interface. Some examples include FileZilla Web Interface, AnyClient, net2ftp and Monsta FTP.

If you encounter problems when accessing an FTP server from your browser, there are several actions you can take to correct the problem:

  • check firewall settings
  • try another browser
  • ask the hosting provider for help.

FTP from mobile

Although it is possible to access an FTP server from a mobile device, there may be problems. Moreover, many mobile browsers do not support FTP.

This is why it may be necessary to download a dedicated app. Apps for FTP access on mobile devices include AndFTP (for Android) and FTPManager (for iOS).

Mistakes to avoid when using the FTP server from the browser.

There are some errors to avoid when accessing the FTP server from the browser.

  • Accessing the FTP server as root user compromises security.
  • Use weak passwords for the FTP account. Choose a strong password that cannot be easily traced.
  • Not updating the browser to the most current version. Non-updated browsers may suffer from some security vulnerabilities.
  • Store your FTP access credentials in your browser. Better to avoid the risk of them being stolen by malware or hackers.
  • Do not check the URL of the website you are connecting to with your login credentials. Make sure that the site is authentic and not a phishing page created to steal private information.
  • Use an unsecured connection to access the FTP server. It is good to use a VPN or another secure method to protect data.
  • Downloading files from unknown sources. A mistake not to be underestimated when relying on websites that could put your health at risk.

Finally, a word of advice: to ensure that the connection to the FTP server is secure, you can use SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), which encrypts data during transfer, to ensure greater security.

However, since not all servers support SFTP, one should first make sure that the hosting provider has these security options.

Discover our hosting plans and connect via FTP wherever you are.