Essential FTP Commands List

Published on 04 Oct 2018 - Updated on 17 Nov 2020

FTP not only transfers files from one system to another. With FTP, you also get a form of data management. Get started with our FTP commands list.

Essential FTP commands infographic.

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FTP Commands for More than Just File Transfer

Use FTP commands to manage data by locating files, deleting unneeded documents, and transferring data to clients and business associates at remote locations. Manage files individually, or use file transfer protocol to move multiple files between your computer and an FTP server.

To get you started with file transfer protocol, here is a list of the most common FTP commands and their basic descriptions. This chart makes a great cheat sheet for new programmers or a handy reference for pros who are juggling a lot of technical information.

FTP Command



Access the help screen. Request information about FTP commands.


Set file transfer mode to ASCII. Usually the default setting.


Set file transfer mode to binary. Binary is needed to transfer non-ASCII files.


Exit FTP environment.


Change directory.


Terminate an FTP session.


Delete a file.


Lists the contents of the remote directory. Includes files and subdirectories.


Get file from remote server/computer. Copies file to local computer.


Request a list of all available FTP commands. Help screen displays additional information about a command if the command is entered after help.


Change local directory.


List file names in the current remote directory.


Copy multiple files from the remote system to the local computer.


Make a new directory within the current remote directory.


Send multiple files from local computer to remote system.


Open connection with another system.


Send file to remote server/computer.


Show pathname of current directory.


Exit FTP environment.


Remove directory on the remote server/computer.

Additional Commands

These FTP commands, while common for the basic FTP functions, are based on running a PC with Windows. Once you have all the basic FTP commands down, additional commands can be found in the help screen and used to request more complex functions. These commands may differ slightly depending on your system.

Using Commands with SFTP

You can also use commands to manage and transfer data via SFTP. Many people prefer to use SFTP because it is a natively secure protocol. While SFTP is often used as a secure replacement for FTP, you may think the same commands would work for both.

However, SFTP is a completely separate protocol from FTP. And because it is a separate protocol, there are some differences in the commands you use to perform actions.

Essential SFTP Commands

Based on the list above, there are only a few differences to note if you are using SFTP. The following FTP commands do NOT work for SFTP connections:

  • ascii
  • binary
  • close
  • open

If you want to delete a file with SFTP you use the command rm instead of delete.

You’ve got the commands, now it’s time to start using FTP. Sign up for Exavault today!

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