File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (2022)

Last updated on April 26th, 2022

developmentmigrationsftpWPCore

When hosting your WordPress site on WP Engine, you may need to connect directly to your website’s filesystem. On other platforms you may already be used to using FTP. At WP Engine we use SFTP which works the same, except it uses a layer of encryption for security and is restricted to a secured port.

Most commonly you’ll need SFTP access when migrating your site, performing a partial restore, or while editing/accessing a specific file (such as the wp-config.php file).

1SFTP Clients

2Add SFTP User

3Edit SFTP User

(Video) FTP (File Transfer Protocol), SFTP, TFTP Explained.

4Connect to SFTP

6Common Issues

7Update SFTP Host Keys

7.1Update Host Key

7.2Delete All Host Keys

7.3Update known_hosts File

8Limitations

(Video) File Transfer Protocol(FTP) | SFTP |TFTP | FTP in computer network

SFTP Clients

Before you can connect to your site’s file system, you’ll need access to a compatible client. While we don’t restrict the programs you can use, but a program may not be compatible. We recommend one of the following clients:

While you are free to use the SFTP client of your choice, your SFTP client will need to use one of the following supported ciphers:

  • aes192-ctr
  • aes256-ctr

We do not support SFTP ciphers: SHA1, aes128-ctr, CBC, RC4, 3DES, MD5, and RIPEMD for security reasons. If your SFTP client uses one of these ciphers, it will not work properly with our platform.

NOTE

Before connecting, always ensure your client is updated, as this is a common cause of connection issues.

Add SFTP User

Along with an SFTP client you will need SFTP credentials. These are not your wp-admin or User Portal credentials. Each set of SFTP credentials will only work for one environment.

  1. Log in to the User Portal
  2. Select the environment you wish to connect to
  3. Click SFTP Users
  4. Click Add SFTP User
File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (1)
  1. Fill out the following required fields:
    • Username — Your environment name will be appended to this automatically after saving:
      • EX: environmentname-username
    • Password — You can securely generate a random password by clicking the lock icon, or set a password with the following requirements:
      • At least 8 characters
      • Uppercase and lowercase letters
      • Include numbers and special characters
      • Once the password has been set it cannot be viewed again. If you lose the password, you will have to set a new one. Be sure to copy or write the password down before saving.
    • Path (Optional) — A specific directory to connect to. Defaults to the root if left blank.
      • Must be a relative path, starting with a forward slash.
      • Do not include HTTP/HTTPS, or your domain.
      • Any subdirectory below the path defined can also be accessed. Any directory above the path defined cannot be accessed.
      • To restrict a theme developer to all theme directories: /wp-content/themes/
      • To restrict a vendor to media uploads from April 2019: /wp-content/uploads/2019/04/File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (2)
    • Environment
      • Production, Staging, or Development: Refers to the active environment.
  2. Click Add SFTP User

Edit SFTP User

To edit an existing SFTP user:

  1. Log in to the User Portal
  2. Select the environment you wish to connect to
  3. Click SFTP Users
  4. Click on an existing username
  5. Fill in a new password with the following requirements OR hit the lock icon to generate a secure password automatically
    • At least 8 characters
    • Uppercase and lowercase letters
    • Include numbers special characters
  6. Click Update User

Connect to SFTP

After adding an SFTP user, take note of the SFTP Address and Port Number in your User Portal. The SFTP address is different for every environment.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (3)

In this example we’ll be using FileZilla, but the fields should be similar in any client. Fill out the following fields then hit Connect.

Host — SFTP Address

  • When using Quick Connect in FileZilla you will need to specify sftp protocol by also adding sftp:// before the hostname.
  • EX: sftp://environment.sftp.wpengine.com
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Username — Username set in the User Portal. Your unique environment name is appended and hyphenated automatically.

  • Ex: environment-someuser

Password — Password exactly as set previously.

  • Pay attention to capital letters, spaces, symbols, etc.
  • If you forgot the password it cannot be viewed again after saving. You must edit the SFTP user to set a new password.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (5)
(Video) File Transfer Protocol | FTP, SFTP | Networking Lec-20 #ftp #sftp #protocol

Port — Always set to 2222

  • No other port numbers will work here.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (6)

NOTE

You may see a pop up referring to SSH host keys if you’ve never connected before. Accept any warnings to continue.

SFTP Tips

  • Make a backup before editing any site content.
  • Once you are connected to your site, you will see a directory listing of your computer’s contents on the left. Your remote website directory is on the right. File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (7)
  • Double-click a directory name to expand and view the contents.
  • Drag and drop files between locations or directories.
  • If you are replacing a file be sure to accept any prompts to overwrite the existing file or you will not see your changes.
  • Reset file permissions and purge server caches from the WP Engine plugin after making changes.
  • Location quick reference:
    • Theme files: wp-content/themes/
    • Plugin files: wp-content/plugins/
    • Uploads: wp-content/uploads/
      • Often divided further by year, then month: wp-content/uploads/2019/04
  • Your SFTP host name and user name will both include the environment name at the beginning. This should make verifying that you’re connecting correctly a little easier.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (8)

Common Issues

Error: Cannot establish FTP connection to an SFTP server. Please select proper protocol.

  • Ensure you have set your client to connect using SFTP protocol.
  • This may be a dropdown to select SFTP, or you may have to preface your hostname field with sftp://
    • EX: sftp://mysite.wpengine.com
  • Ensure you are using the correct port. Only port 2222 is supported.

Error: Authentication failed.

  • The user name or password is wrong.
  • Change your password or try adding a completely new user.

I’m being prompted to update my SSH host keys. I hit “accept”, but still can’t connect.

  • During security updates our server host keys can change. You may need to delete your existing SSH host keys first before new ones can be properly accepted by your SFTP client.

Still unable to connect with SFTP?

  • Restart your FTP client completely
  • Try connecting with a different client
  • Ensure your client is up to date
  • Verify the path you’re connecting to exists as a directory on your website, or reset the path to default completely
  • Create a different SFTP user
  • Try to connect to any other environments on your account with SFTP
  • Contact our Support team

I connected without an error, but my remote directory and file listing is blank.

  • Check the path your user is configured for. Does it exist? Is it spelled right?
  • We recommend resetting this to default (blank) and trying again.

I’m not seeing changes on my site after uploading a file.

  1. Reset file permissions
  2. Purge server caches
  3. Purge local caches

Still not seeing your changes?

  1. If you modified a theme/plugin file, ensure you have the correct theme/plugin name activated
  2. Add a comment to the top of your file and upload it again
  3. Try opening your file in the browser directly- Do you see your comment or code changes?
    1. EX: http://mydomain.com/wp-content/uploads/test.txt
  4. Try uploading a test TXT file to the same directory, then see if you can load that file in your browser directly. Can you view this test file?

If you can see changes in the files when viewed directly but not on the website, it is most likely a caching issue.

  • Try purging local and server caches again
  • You may even need to restart your computer
  • Test again on a mobile device, disconnected from WiFi

If you can’t see any changes when directly viewing files you’ve added, it’s most likely an SFTP connection issue.

  • Check the host name, username, password and port.
  • Verify you’re uploading to the correct directory
  • Confirm the file name spelling and capitalization

Update SFTP Host Keys

If when using yourSFTPclient on WP Engine, you receive a warning that your “host keys do not match” or “host key changed”, you will need to update host keys stored on your local machine. There are three options to update your host keys.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP/SFTP) - Support Center (9)

Update Host Key

Option one in this scenario is to manually update your host key. This method generates the new host key and connects you to your host:environment.sftp.wpengine.com. This is the easiest, recommended method. Please keep in mind these steps need to be taken on the local computer where you are experiencing this issue.

(Video) What Is SFTP?

Run the following command in a local Mac/Linux Terminal window, whereenvironmentis the name of your WP Engine environment:

  1. cd ~/.ssh
  2. ssh-keygen -Renvironment.sftp.wpengine.com:2222

Delete All Host Keys

Option two in this scenario is to delete the host key entry for your host:environment.sftp.wpengine.com

Mac/Linux

To delete your local host key, you just need to remove yourknown_hostsfile. Open terminal and run the following commands:

  1. cd ~/.ssh
  2. rm known_hosts

Windows

To update your local host key on a Windows machine, open upPuTTYand perform the following steps:

  1. Open upregedit.exeby doing a search
  2. Navigate toHKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareSimonTathamPuTTYSshHostKeys
  3. Delete all keys listed

Update known_hosts File

Similar to removing removing all known hosts in Option two, this option removes just one known host.

The warning message your SFTP client shows will usually list the line in known_hosts that is triggering this message, so be sure to make a note of this.

Mac/Linux

On Mac/Linux you can simply edit the file usingvi, which is a text editor. Run the following commands. Be sure to update100to the line number your error message displays.

  1. cd ~/.ssh
  2. vi known_hosts +100

Once the file opens to this line:

  1. Type the keydtwice to remove the line
  2. Type:xto save.

Windows

On a Windows machine using PuTTY, go to the Registry folder just like in step two. In that directory, a list of hostnames appears. Right click on theenvironment.sftp.wpengine.comone, and then select Delete.

Limitations

We do not support the SFTP ciphers SHA1, aes128-ctr,CBC, RC4, 3DES, MD5, and RIPEMD for security reasons. If your SFTP client uses one of these ciphers, it may not work properly with our platform. We suggest reaching out to your SFTP software maker to get instructions on how to disable these.

WP Engine does not support FXP (File eXchange Protocol) due to its dependency upon FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which is an insecure method of transferring files. WP Engine only supports SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) due to its improved security features.

NEXT STEP: Troubleshooting with the WP Engine error logs

(Video) How to use SFTP Commands to Copy Files to/from a Server

FAQs

Does SFTP support FTP? ›

While FTPS adds a layer to the FTP protocol, SFTP is an entirely different protocol based on the network protocol SSH (Secure Shell). Unlike both FTP and FTPS, SFTP uses only one connection and encrypts both authentication information and data files being transferred.

Is SFTP a file transfer protocol? ›

SFTP is a network protocol that provides file access, file transfer, and file management over any reliable data stream. It was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as an extension of the Secure Shell protocol (SSH) and provides secure file transfer capabilities.

What is the purpose of FTP SFTP? ›

What are FTP and SFTP? FTP is the traditional file transfer protocol. It's a basic way of using the Internet to share files. SFTP (or Secure File Transfer Protocol) is an alternative to FTP that also allows you to transfer files, but adds a layer of security to the process.

Which is better FTP or SFTP? ›

Should You Use FTP or SFTP? As is probably clear by now, you should always use SFTP over FTP because SFTP offers a more secure way to connect to your server and transfer information. Because SFTP is a more secure method, Kinsta only supports SFTP connections.

What is FTP and SFTP port? ›

FTP - the plain old FTP protocol that has been around since 1970s. The acronym stands for "File Transfer Protocol". It usually runs over TCP port 21. SFTP - another, completely different file transfer protocol that has nothing to do with FTP. SFTP runs over an SSH session, usually on TCP port 22.

What port is SFTP on? ›

What Port Does SFTP Use? Unlike FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS), SFTP only needs a single port to establish a server connection — port 22.

Is SFTP still used? ›

So, is SFTP still relevant? Yes and it's becoming even more relevant as we write about it! Not only is SFTP here to stay, it's growing in popularity each day in response to the increasing amount of data and information sharing.

What is SFTP example? ›

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) runs over SSH protocol on standard port 22 by default to establish a secure connection. SFTP has been integrated into many GUI tools (FileZilla, WinSCP, FireFTP, etc.).

What is SFTP and how it works? ›

SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is a secure file transfer protocol that uses secure shell encryption to provide a high level of security for sending and receiving file transfers. SFTP is similar to FTPS in that it uses AES and other algorithms to secure data as it travels between different systems.

How do I connect to SFTP? ›

How do I connect to an SFTP server with FileZilla?
  1. In the field Host, enter ssh.yourdomain.com, substituting “yourdomain.com” with your own domain name. ...
  2. Enter your Username, which is simply your domain name (yourdomain.com), also without “www”.
  3. Enter your Password. ...
  4. Enter the Port number.

Which port does FTP use? ›

FTP is an unusual service in that it utilizes two ports, a 'data' port and a 'command' port (also known as the control port). Traditionally these are port 21 for the command port and port 20 for the data port.

What is a SFTP server? ›

An SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) server is an endpoint that is associated with a receiver or a destination during a message exchange. The server can be associated with more than one destination or receiver, but a destination or receiver can be associated with only one server.

Is SFTP over the Internet? ›

File transfer protocols allow users to transfer data between remote systems over the Internet. SFTP is one such protocol, offering users a secure way to send and receive files and folders.

How do I know if I have FTP or SFTP? ›

The main difference between FTP and SFTP is the “S.” SFTP is an encrypted or secure file transfer protocol. With FTP, when you send and receive files, they are not encrypted. You may be using a secure connection, but the transmission and files themselves are not encrypted.

How do I create a SFTP server? ›

To configure an SFTP server:
  1. Log in to B2B Advanced Communications as a user with the permissions to configure an SFTP server.
  2. Click Systems Management > Servers.
  3. On the Servers page, click New > SFTP.
  4. On the Create Server page, specify values for the applicable fields as follows:

How do I test my SFTP connection? ›

How to Test for SFTP Connectivity - YouTube

How do I enable SFTP on Windows? ›

Installing SFTP/SSH Server
  1. On Windows 11: Go to Settings > Apps > Optional features and click on View features. Locate “OpenSSH server” feature, select it, click Next, and then click Install.
  2. On Windows 10 (version 1803 and newer): Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features > Optional features and click on Add a feature.
Jun 21, 2022

What is my SFTP address? ›

SFTP Client
InformationDescription
Hostname of ServerSpecify Hostname or IP Address of Server
Port NumberPort Number you want to Connect to (Usually Port 22)
Security ProtocolChoose the Protocol to Connect (FTP, SFTP, FTP/S, SCP, etc)
UsernameSSH Username that a client uses to connect to the Host/Server from Above
1 more row
Jul 21, 2021

Why FTP is not safe? ›

FTP was not built to be secure. It is generally considered to be an insecure protocol because it relies on clear-text usernames and passwords for authentication and does not use encryption. Data sent via FTP is vulnerable to sniffing, spoofing, and brute force attacks, among other basic attack methods.

Is SFTP a security risk? ›

Critical data needs to remain secure and under your control, but FTP was not designed with secure file transfer in mind and SFTP lacks security controls to handle today's cyber threats. For example: – User IDs and passwords to login to FTP servers and send files aren't always protected.

What can I use instead of SFTP? ›

The good news however, is that there are alternatives - and in this blog post, we will cover five of these.
  1. SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) ...
  2. FTPS (File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS) ...
  3. AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) ...
  4. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) ...
  5. MFT (Managed File Transfer)
Sep 17, 2019

Is FileZilla FTP or SFTP? ›

FileZilla is a free and open source Secure File Transfer ( SFTP ) program for Linux, MacOS and Windows. It allows you to securely upload and download files between the Pressable servers and your computer.

Is SFTP slower than FTP? ›

SFTP is slower compared to FTP as the maximum size of the packets is dictated by the protocol itself. Each packet in SFTP is encrypted before being written to the outgoing socket from the client which is decrypted when received by the server. This of-course leads to slow transfer rates but very secure transfer.

Videos

1. SFTP as a Service: The Benefits Explained
(ExaVault)
2. Introduction to FTP: File Transfer Services
(linuxhint)
3. FTP, FTPS, & SFTP: Which Protocol Should You Use and When?
(HelpSystems)
4. AWS Transfer Family - Demo
(Amazon Web Services)
5. Understanding FTP Ports: File Transfer & Port Numbers
(ExaVault)
6. Ftp Hosting Services
(Michael Faulds)

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