Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Recursive FTP with the command line

6th August 2008

Here’s a piece of Linux/UNIX shell scripting code that will do a recursive FTP refresh of a website for you:

lftp <<~/Tmp/log_file.tmp 2>>~/Tmp/log_file.tmp

open ${HOSTNAME}

user ${USER} ${PSSWD}

mirror -R -vvv “${REP_SRC}” “${REP_DEST}”


When my normal FTP scripting approach left me with a broken WordPress installation and an invalid ticket in the project’s TRAC system that I had to close, I turned to looking for a more robust way of achieving the website updates and that’s what led me to seek out the options available for FTP transfers that explicitly involve directory recursion. The key pieces in the code above are the use of lftp in place of ftp, my more usual tool for the job, and the invocation of the mirror command that comes with lftp. The -R switch ensures that file transfer is from local to remote (vice versa is the default) and -vvv turns on maximum verbosity, a very useful thing when you find that it takes longer than more usual means. It’s all much slicker than writing your own script to do the back-work of ploughing through the directory structure and ensuring that the recursive transfers take place. Saying that, it is possible to have a one line variant of the above but the way that I have set things up might be more familiar to users of ftp.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comment moderation is enabled and may delay the appearance of your contribution.

  • All the views that you find expressed on here in postings and articles are mine alone and not those of any organisation with which I have any association, through work or otherwise. As regards editorial policy, whatever appears here is entirely of my own choice and not that of any other person or organisation.

  • Please note that everything you find here is copyrighted material. The content may be available to read without charge and without advertising but it is not to be reproduced without attribution. As it happens, a number of the images are sourced from stock libraries like iStockPhoto so they certainly are not for abstraction.

  • With regards to any comments left on the site, I expect them to be civil in tone of voice and reserve the right to reject any that are either inappropriate or irrelevant. Comment review is subject to automated processing as well as manual inspection but whatever is said is the sole responsibility of the individual contributor.