This article describes how to use Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, or
Windows Explorer as not-very-good FTP clients. Their only advantage is
that you already have them, as part of Windows.
If you plan to use FTP more than once and you don’t mind spending a
few minutes on configuration settings, a much better FTP client is the
free Firefox browser add-on called FireFTP. One of its useful features
is the ability to compare directories in the local and remote sites,
identifying which files don’t match. Another is that file and folder
permissions, “rwxrwxrwx”, are displayed in a column in the main window;
you don’t have to click on anything to see them.
Your website’s FTP address
To log into your site by FTP, you need to know the correct FTP
address. It is different at different web hosting companies. It is
usually something like: ftp://yourdomain.com/ or ftp://ftp.yourdomain.com/.
You should find the address in the Welcome and informational email your
webhost sent you when you opened your account, or on a FAQ page at your
host’s website, or you can ask them.
FTP access by Windows Explorer, directly
This is the most direct way to do it because when you use
Internet Explorer to initiate an FTP session, you eventually end up in
Windows Explorer, anyway.
Windows Explorer has the ability to display an Address Bar just like
a browser does. If you don’t see it, you’ll need to make it visible:
Having the Address bar visible has a useful benefit unrelated to
what we’re doing now: there are some locations such as Command Prompt
where you may need to navigate to a folder by typing its path. Path
names are so long in Windows that this can require a lot of typing
without making any mistakes. Instead, navigate to the folder in Windows
Explorer. The path displays in the Address bar, from where you can copy
the text and paste it wherever you need it.
Now you’re ready to open your site in FTP view.
FTP access by Internet Explorer 7 and 8
Help for this is available in IE7 Help (F1) > Contents > FTP.
FTP access by Internet Explorer 6
As I recall, IE6 launches Windows Explorer on its own initiative after
you enter your FTP address, without the extra steps required in IE7 and
What you can do in Windows Explorer FTP
By clicking folders in the lefthand navigation pane, you can
view their contents in the righthand pane. You can sort the listings by
the various columns. The “Modified” column allows you to easily find
recently changed files.
You can view and change file and folder permissions by right-clicking the filename and selecting Properties.
You can copy files between your local PC and the website by
highlighting the filename and dragging it to the folder (local or
remote) where you want to put it.
If Windows Explorer seems to become confused about what are
the correct folder/subfolder directory hierarchy relationships in the
remote site, or if it seems unable to keep you logged in and prompts
you to log in again before every action, it can be because your
firewall is blocking part of the connection. You will need to create
firewall exceptions to allow incoming and outgoing FTP connections to
and from Windows Explorer, or switch to using passive FTP as described