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Transferring Files from a Windows PC with FileZilla


Unless you have a wide screen, the most efficient way to use this Web page may be to print it out for reference while you are following these steps, rather than flipping back and forth between windows.

If you have not changed your Ohio ID (formerly, "OAK login ID") password since October 1, 2007, then you must do so before you will be able to connect to the people2 server. Use the link near the top of http://www.ohio.edu/oit/services/myaccount.cfm.

If your public and secure personal home folders do not yet exist, you will not be able to connect to people2 by SFTP; follow the "Provisioning Steps" link at the left.

This page has not been updated to account for the changes that will happen in late 2015 with respect to the http to https transition; the second sub-bullet of step 14, below, will be different after the cut-over.


There are two prerequisites to transferring your files with FileZilla according to the step-by-step instructions listed below:

  • You must have FileZilla installed and configured with the correct preferences settings, as described under the "FileZilla Install" link to the left.

  • You must have created your public and secure home folders, as described under the "Provisioning Steps" link to the left.

Once both of those are done, then you can use FileZilla to transfer your files:

  1. Specify the "Host" (shaded yellow in the screen-shot, below) as "people2.ohio.edu" (do not specify the host as "www.ohio.edu" or "www.ohiou.edu": those are different machines);

  2. Specify the "Username" (shaded red, below) as your own Ohio ID (formerly called, "OAK login ID"). The username must not include any quotations marks, nor "@ohio.edu."

  3. Provide your own "Password" (shaded green, below).

  4. Specify the "Port" (shaded purple, below, between the Password and the "Quickconnect" button) as 22, as shown.

  5. The maroon and blue highlights encircle features that will be used in step 8, below.

  6. The orange highlights encircle features that will be used in step 11, below.

    filezilla3 screenshot
  7. Press the "enter" key to complete the connection.

    If the connection fails with a message such as "Connection timed out after 20 seconds of inactivity," click on the Edit menu and take the Settings choice:

    • That opens by default displaying the "Connection" pane, which is the pane you need.

    • Skip the block at the top that contains the button named, "Run configuration wizard now."

    • Use the next block, titled, "Timeout"; edit the 20 seconds to a larger value. Based on several encounters with this problem, which appears to be intermittent, 90 seconds may well suffice; if you still get time-out messages, then try a larger value.

    If Windows displays a message that it has blocked an action of the application, click on the "unblock" button.
    The first time you connect to each server, you may get a warning about an "unknown host key"; that is normal and you may choose to tell FileZilla to add the key to its database, so that you won't be distracted by that message the next time. This message also is displayed the first time you connect after we have updated the server's SFTP software.

    You may observe that the Port field at the top is now empty, instead of showing the original "22," but the Host field has changed to "sftp://people2.ohio.edu"; this is normal.

  8. Observe the chatter in the upper window portion; in order to keep your connection alive while you think or do other things, FileZilla may from time to time send innocuous commands such as "PWD" ("Print Working Directory") or "REST" (if it uses one that our server does not implement, you may see an error message to that effect). This portion of the window will be used to display any error messages. Be especially alert for red text in this section.

    If the server disconnects because of too long a time with no activity (typically several minutes), click on the "Refresh" button (marked with the maroon highlight, above). This should revive the connection in less than a second, without having to re-navigate to the correct folder on the server.

    If that fails, then click on the "Disconnect" button on the toolbar (marked with the blue highlight, above; the "X," is red while connected), and then press the "enter" key or click on the "Quickconnect" button. You will then have to re-navigate to the correct folder on the server.

  9. When the FileZilla session window is displayed, maximize that window or use the mouse, dragging at the lower-right corner of the session window, to increase the space available for displaying file and directory names.

  10. Observe that the left side is the PC, the right side is the server, and on each side the directories are listed above the files. In addition, you will see both the directory and file listing and also, above that, a tree-structured list.

  11. Place your mouse over the boundary between the "Filename" and "Filesize" column headings for the Remote and Local Sites (circled with orange highlight, above). The mouse pointer will change to a double-sided arrow when it is directly over the boundary. Then, drag to the right to increase the amount of space on the screen used for the filename column. You can similarly adjust any of the other column widths as needed.

  12. Navigate with the mouse on the left side to get to the correct directory on your PC's disk drive:

    • Double-click on a directory to enter that directory.

    • Double-click on the folder with the "..", at the top, to go up to the parent directory of the one currently being displayed.

    • Double-click on a drive letter to change drives.

  13. On the right side, when the connection is made, you will see a list of all the folders for people with public pages in http://www.ohio.edu/people/.

    • If you want to work on your public pages, then scroll down, as needed, to find the folder whose name matches your Ohio ID; and double-click on that folder.

    • If you want to work on your secure pages, then

      • navigate "out" or "up" two levels (e.g., in the upper-right, click on the folder "people2.ohio.edu," which contains both the "public" and the "secure" folders);

      • open the "secure" folder;

      • open the "people" folder;

      • scroll down, as needed, to find the folder whose name matches your Ohio ID; and double-click on that folder.

  14. Continue to navigate in your directories on the server on the right portion of the FileZilla window, with the usual Windows techniques, until you are looking at the files that are already in the directory where you want to place the new file. You should now be looking at the corresponding directories on both sides of the FileZilla session window.

  15. If either side is missing a subdirectory that the other side has, you can right-click on white space (not text or icons) in the directory and file listing area where it is missing, and choose "create directory" from the contextual menu that pops up.

  16. If FileZilla is configured correctly, it will choose correctly between binary and text file transfer modes for you, so you can leave the mode set to "Auto," in most cases.

  17. Click once on a file to be transferred, and then if any other files are to be transferred in the same direction, shift-click or control-click to select the entire group. There are two ways to transfer the files that you have selected:

    If you attempt to transfer a file that is bigger than your available free space, the server will refuse to accept the full file. The part of the file that used up your available space will be left on the server, and FileZilla will display an error message, but it may well not be obvious that the lack of available space was the cause of the problem (we will update this paragraph as we learn more about the various error messages displayed in such cases). You will receive an automatic e-mail reporting the fact that you exceeded your disk quota, but it likely won't arrive for several minutes. You will have to manually delete the file-fragment to prevent people wasting time downloading the useless file.

    • Right-click on any of them and select "upload" to transfer from the PC to the server, or "download" to transfer from the server to the PC.

    • Click on one of the selected files, holding the click, and then drag the files to the other side. There was a bug in prior versions of FileZilla that interfered with at least some other activities after doing this; if FileZilla does not behave as expected after a drag-and-drop transfer, perform step 18, immediately below, and then start over.

  18. When done transferring files, click the "Disconnect" button on the toolbar, choose "Exit" from the "File" menu, or just close the window.