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I'm trying to wrap my head around FTP for local users.

For example, I have a local WordPress install that requires FTP to update certain plugins. My understanding is that I would create an FTP server, and WordPress would get access as a local user. But...

  • Why is this necessary? When WordPress downloads the plugin files from the remote plugin site, it isn't using FTP, and when it needs to install it in its folder, why can't it just have writable access to that folder?
  • Does FTP vs FTPS matter in this case. I understand FTP transmits passwords in clear text, but if it's not being transmitted remotely, why would that matter?


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What do you mean by local? If you have access to the file system of the server hosting the wordpress install through some other method(console, smb, ssh, RDP, etc) then you may not need FTP. FTP is just one common method gaining access to put files on the server. In my opinion SFTP is better than FTP or FTPS because it uses the SSH protocol, but it serves the same purpose.


Ok, if I follow what is going on, is going to use the FTP to do the update. So it's not you locally accessing the site, it's a remote 3rd party. This might answer some of your questions:

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@matthew- It's the WordPress that requires FTP (for updating itself etc), but again, that's what I don't understand. Why would something local need FTP to access the file system where it resides. Also, WordPress doesn't support SFTP. My question was why use secure protocols at all if passwords are not being passed remotely? – Yarin Mar 24 '11 at 18:11
@mathew- I'm afraid that link just describes the plugin functionality, whereas I'm looking for a more academic explanation of why and how local FTP access should be used. – Yarin Mar 27 '11 at 13:21
huh? The plugin has nothing to do with local FTP? About halfway down in the FAQ's there's a question "When will be asked for my FTP credentials and why?" that pretty much answers why they need FTP. A remote party (ie. not you) is going to access the files on the site to set the correct permissions. If you set the permission correctly through some other method they shouldn't ask for access to the FTP. – matthew Mar 28 '11 at 1:08

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