You can easily transfer files from a server that has SSH (Secure Shell) running but not FTP (File Transfer Protocol) using Filezilla on Windows. When using Filezilla it will be called SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) and will allow you to copy files from a server to your local Windows computer with ease. Follow the simple steps below to securely copy files from a server that is running SSH.

  1. Open Filezilla: First you will need to launch Filezilla. If you do not have Filezilla you can obtain it for free from this link.
  2. Open Site Manager: Click on File in the top navigation menu and then select “Site Manager” from the drop down. This will open Filezilla’s Site Manager, as shown below, where you can add, delete, and modify sites that you visit often.

    Filezilla Site Manager: Set up SFTP Site

  3. Configure Site With SFTP Access: Now you will need to enter in the details of a site including SFTP access which will allow you to transfer files over SSH instead of FTP. You need to enter at least the following details for the configuration.
    • Name: When adding a new site it will display in the site list as “New Site” and will immediately be editable. Make sure to modify this with a name that is meaningful to you regarding the server.
      Example: Work Server 1
    • Host: Here you will need to enter either the IP address or the hostname of the server.
      Example: 192.168.1.100 or server.example.com
    • Port: For this configuration the default will be port 22 (SSH’s Default Port) so you do not need to enter anything here but if the SSH server is running on a different port say 2222 then you would need to enter that port number here.
      Example: N/A except if SSH is running on a non default port so it might be, 2222
    • Server Type: Click the drop down and select “SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol”.
      Example: SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol
    • Logon Type: This may vary depending on the server or what you prefer but typically you will click the drop down and change to “Normal” which will store your username and password.
      Example: Normal
    • User: Enter the username for the account you will login with.
      Example: joeuser
    • Password: Enter the password required for the account.
      Example: joepassword
    • Account: This will be greyed out as it is not required for this configuration.
    • Comments: I have dozens of servers configured for various clients so I prefer to add comments here to help me remember which each account is used for. It is always the best practice to be as detailed as possible while information is fresh in your head to assist in remembering information later.
      Example: This is a test site configured in Filezilla.

    Below is an image of Filezilla’s Site Manager showing an example configuration for a site using SFTP.

    Filezilla Site Manager SFTP Configuration

    You will also probably notice the other tabs available for further confiruation. In this example the default settings are fine and will work. If you want to change other configurations do not hesitate to play around with settings to see if there is anything else that can be useful to you.

  4. Connect to SFTP Server: Now test the connection by clicking the Connect button located at the bottom of the Site Manager. Make sure the new SFTP site is highlighted and you will notice Filezilla connect to the new server configuration on port 22. This will allow you to transfer files to and from the server in a secure manner using SCP or Secure Copy.

Filezilla is a great Open Source FTP/SFTP application so I encourage you to donate to the project if you find it useful. People that develop applications like this make all of our lives much easier without forcing us to purchase applications before we get to experience them. Filezilla has been around for a long time and is actively developed and continues to add features that make it the best FTP application that I am aware of on Windows.


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10 Responses to “How to SCP (Secure Copy) with FileZilla on Windows XP”
  1. Coagmano says:

    This article is titled wrong…
    SFTP and scp are different from each other and should not be used interchangeably.
    Please correct your article to reflect this.

    Some other info:
    Currently SFTP is the superior protocol as it uses ssh v2 where scp uses ssh v1. though on some FTP servers SFTP is slower as it requires more cpu overhead.

    [Reply]

    alex Reply:

    Hello Coagmano,

    The article is titled that way on purpose so people looking to use SCP on Windows will actually use SFTP via Filezilla. The goal is to provide people a way to accomplish securely transferring files using Windows and this will be accomplished by using SFTP as described in the article. SCP is noted in the title as that is what some people will use when attempting to transfer the files between computers.

    I wasn’t aware that SCP used SSH v1 by default though so thanks for pointing that out.

    Thanks.
    alex

    [Reply]

  2. George Adams says:

    Alex, it’s more than just a difference of semantics and SSH protocol versions. SFTP offers a full FTP-style interface, while SCP does not. (it does not, for example, support listing the remote directory). So unfortunately, “How to SCP with FileZilla” just can’t be done. (For example, I’m trying to transfer a file from Windows to a DD-WRT router via SCP, since SFTP is not supported. FileZilla, which supports only FTP, SFTP and FTPS, just won’t work for that.)

    [Reply]

    alex Reply:

    Hello George,

    Thanks for taking the time to post a response to our article. Many people consider SCP and SFTP to be fairly similar though I see what you are saying and agree they are definitely different. The main point of the article was to explain that you could connect and transfer files using FileZilla to connect to a server that is not running FTP but that is only running SSHD.

    Thanks.
    alex

    [Reply]

  3. Jacob says:

    Part of the issue for me is that some SSH servers are configured to NOT work with SFTP but does work with SCP. By default when you turn on the SSH server on an ESXi Hypervisor it does NOT work with SFTP. I know this may be an isolated example but I was looking to see if Filezilla could be hacked a bit to work with SCP also or if that was in the works and got this how to. I know that WinSCP does it but I happen to like Filezilla.

    [Reply]

    alex Reply:

    Hello Jacob,

    I am not familiar with ESXi Hypervisor so I cannot offer much help there. What I can say is that I have yet to attempt to use FileZilla to connect to SSH and had any issues. I wonder if the default sshd_config file is different for what you are talking about. If you want to share the default sshd_config file I could try to see if I notice anything different from other Linux operating systems?

    If you do find a solution we would love to hear what it is.

    Thanks.
    alex

    [Reply]

  4. Jacob says:

    Actually ESXi Server uses Dropbear for SSH.
    http://matt.ucc.asn.au/dropbear/dropbear.html
    I have not found a config file for it yet so I am not sure the details on it being possible to enable SFTP on the SSH side of ESXi.

    [Reply]

    alex Reply:

    Hello Jacob,

    Dropbear is commonly used in other linux distributions as well specifically embedded style Linux. We actually use dropbear on a product we invented at work to monitor senior citizens. I would assume that it could be configured to work in the way that you want it to. If you find the exact solution let us know what it was so others will have a solution as well.

    Thanks.
    alex

    [Reply]

  5. Jacob says:

    VMware ESXi Server is a neat platform for virtual machines. Best of all it is free to download and use. Support costs money but that is to be expected. The Windows client that comes with it for admin use is a little clunky when it comes to uploading VMs or other files to it. Using something like WinSCP over the SSH connection(once enabled) is a bit faster way of transferring.

    [Reply]

    alex Reply:

    Hello Jacob,

    Thanks for the information. Oddly enough I offered to help a friend install a VM server the other day and he had opted to use ESXi Server so I played around with it a bit.

    Thanks.
    alex

    [Reply]

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