How To Do SFTP (SECURE FTP) With Filezilla

Here’s terrifying thought: almost everything you transmit over the Internet is visible to anyone passing that information along. So when you log in to your blog, or upload files to your site (called FTP), you’re treating the world you travel through to a snapshot of your files.

To be fair, this isn’t a huge deal. The fact of the matter is you’re doing this while everybody else online is doing it, and it’s extremely rare for someone to actually try to look at the data passing (known as Packet Sniffing) and see what you’re transmitting.

However, for the truly paranoid, there is a solution – transmit everything encrypted. The data is passed across using high-level security, and any pieces people can see are garbage – they’re not going to be able to put the pieces together in any useful manner.

And whereas at the far extreme this involves setting up SSL (secure socket layers) for everything on your site, and changing all your links from http:// to https://, there is one simple solution you can use right off the bat – just use secured FTP, or SFTP.

The good news is, FileZilla makes it easy to try out on your site website. Not every site works – for example, Lunarpages didn’t support it, while my reseller account on HostGator did.

Open up FileZilla and go to ‘Site Manager’ *under the ‘File’ Menu), then select an account from the left side. On the right-hand side select the protocol (‘SFTP using SSH2’) and the port. I found what worked for HostGator was port 2222 – I got this port setting from a quick search online (“sftp hostgator” and “ssh hostgator”). You can do the same for your sites:

Save it and connect. If your setup is working right, it will connect the same as before, but under a secure connection, one that can’t be eavesdropped on (note the little lock icon at the bottom of FileZilla).

It takes longer for transmissions since the files have been coded, which adds to your FTP time. But for those concerned about security, or for transmitting sensitive files it can be a great (and simple) solution!

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One thought on “How To Do SFTP (SECURE FTP) With Filezilla

  1. thanks! exactly what I was looking for. I know I should be a little more security conscious so this is a first step.

    What’s interesting is that at the top of the search results for something like “set up sftp on filezilla” there are some links from uPenn, really meant as internal instruction. Talk about the power of edu links.

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