Automating FTP II: Windows

Having thought about automating command line FTP on UNIX/Linux, the same idea came to me for Windows too and you can achieve much the same results, even if the way of getting there is slightly different. The first route to consider is running a script file with the ftp command at the command prompt (you may need %windir%system32ftp.exe to call the right FTP program in some cases):

ftp -s:script.txt

The contents of script are something like the following:

open ftp.server.host
user
password
lcd destination_directory
cd source_directory
prompt
get filename
bye

It doesn’t take much to turn your script into a batch file that takes the user name as its first input and your password as its second for sake of enhanced security and deletes any record thereof for the same reason:

echo open ftp.server.host >  script.txt
echo %1 >> script.txt
echo %2 >> script.txt
echo cd htdocs >> script.txt
echo prompt >> script.txt
echo mget * >> script.txt
echo bye >> script.txt
%windir%system32ftp.exe -s:script.txt
del script.txt

The feel of the Windows command line (in Windows 2000, it feels very primitive but Windows XP is better and there’s PowerShell now too) can leave a lot to be desired by someone accustomed to its UNIX/Linux counterpart but there’s still a lot of tweaking that you can do to the above, given a bit of knowledge of the Windows batch scripting language. Any escape from a total dependence on pointing and clicking can only be an advance.

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