How to Connect to SFTP Using FileZilla for Secure File Transfer

SFTP FileZilla

In this article we will show you how to setup a connection to your SFTP server using SFTP in FileZilla by using password or SSH key-based authentication.

Why Use SFTP for File Transfers

When it comes to FTP vs. SFTP, there are some key differences to keep in mind. No one wants their information to fall into the wrong hands. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) uses clear text for all transmissions. Anyone is able to read the FTP usernames, passwords, commands and data by sniffing on the network.

On the other hand, SFTP can securely transfer information. It builds on FTP software and uses the SSH protocol to transfer files and requires the client to be authenticated by the server for enhanced security elements. In short, SFTP is designed to be an extension of SSH to provide secure file transfer capabilities.

Related: SFTP Command, How to Use it Practically for Secure File Transfer

Connect to SFTP Using FileZilla

FileZilla is a free open source FTP software tool, allowing a user to transfer files from a local computer to a remote computer. It is capable of running on Windows, Linux, and macOS. FileZilla supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS protocols.

SFTP provides two user-authentication options when connecting to your server:

  1. Passwords
  2. SSH key-based authentication

The SSH Keys is more secure than password. In this article we’ll cover the both ways.

Please keep in mind if the server you’re connecting to only supports FTP connections, not SSH connections, you won’t be able to use SFTP.

SFTP with FileZilla Using Password

Open the FileZilla Site Manger by clicking the top left icon in menu bar.

FileZilla Site Manger

A popup will appear for you to create a new profile. Click on the “New Site” button and gives a name to the new site connection.

At the right side panel enter the following information:

  • Protocol: This is a drop down section. Select “SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol” option.
  • Host: Enter your server name or server IP address.
  • Port: 22
  • Logon Type: Select “Normal” from the drop down menu.
  • User: System user’s username.
  • Password: System user’s password.

Press the “Connect” button and it will save this settings and connect FileZilla to the SFTP server.

FileZilla SFTP Settings for Password Authentication

Accept the SSL Certificate by clicking the “OK” button. Make sure you have “Always trust this host, add this key to the cachechecked so you will only have to accept the certificate once.

Accept the SSL Certificate

Once you have completed the above, you should be able to connect FileZilla to your SFTP server.

FileZilla SFTP Successfully Connected

Once you’re connected you’ll see a list of files on the server on the right side. To upload new files drag files from your computer (Local site) to the server (Remote site).

SFTP with FileZilla Using SSH Key-based Authentication

If you have not yet create an SSH key pair, then you can check this tutorial: Generate a SSH Key Pair: How to Do it (with Examples).

Open the FileZilla Site Manger by clicking the top left icon in menu bar.

FileZilla Site Manger

A popup will appear for you to create a new profile. Click on the “New Site” button and gives a name to the new site connection.

At the right side panel enter the following information:

  • Protocol: This is a drop down section. Select “SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol” option.
  • Host: Enter your server name or server IP address.
  • Port: 22
  • Logon Type: Select “Key file” from the drop down menu.
  • User: System user’s username.
  • Key file:  Click on the “Browse” button and select your private keyfile.

Press the “Connect” button and it will save this settings and connect FileZilla to the SFTP server.

FileZilla SFTP Settings for SSH Key-based Authentication

Accept the SSL Certificate by clicking the “OK” button. Make sure you have “Always trust this host, add this key to the cache” checked so you will only have to accept the certificate once.

Accept the SSL Certificate

Conclusion

Congratulations, you have successfully connected FileZilla to your SFTP server! Now you know that SFTP means SSH File Transfer Protocol and it provides the secured connection while transferring files from one host to another. Its functionalities are similar to FTP, but differs only in the protocol.

Related: Securely Transfer Files and Folders Between Computers Using Croc

If you have any questions or tips to share, you’re welcome to do so in the comment section.

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