I am writing a Linux shell script to copy a local directory to a remote server (removing any existing files).

Local server: ftp and lftp commands are available, no ncftp or any graphical tools.

Remote server: only accessible via FTP. No rsync nor SSH nor FXP.

I am thinking about listing local and remote files to generate a lftp script and then run it. Is there a better way?

Note: Uploading only modified files would be a plus, but not required.

  • ncftp is totally out the question ? Would be easiest imho. (and i know it'll do it as i use it that way)
    – Sirex
    Jan 11, 2011 at 9:30
  • Sirex: I would rather do it with tools that come by default on RedHat. If lftp proves unusable, I will add a requirement for users to install ncftp. Jan 11, 2011 at 9:40
  • The syntax for wput (a wget-like ftp-uploader): wput dir/ ftp://user:pass@host/dir
    – kenorb
    Jun 7, 2015 at 12:47

5 Answers 5


lftp should be able to do this in one step, in particular with lftp mirror:

The lftp command syntax is confusing, original invocation I posted doesn't work. Try it like this:

lftp -e "mirror -R {local dir} {remote dir}" -u {username},{password} {host}

note the quotes around the arguments to the -e switch.

  • 1
    +1 for tipping me that lftp's mirror mode works even if FXP is not available (I was convinced of the opposite after reading tutorials.papamike.ca/pub/lftp.html which says "both servers must support this protocol for this operation to succeed"). However, this particular command fails on my Ubuntu server: lftp: mirror: Name or service not known, Unknown command `-R'. Jan 11, 2011 at 8:13
  • I reworded my answer with a better invocation of lftp, hopefully that helps. Jan 11, 2011 at 8:47
  • I finally gt it to work! It seems that you must switch remote and local for it to work. Please update and I will accept this answer. Here is a command line that works: lftp -e "mirror -R /tmp/mylocalfiles /var/www" -u remoteuser,remotepassword remoteserver Jan 12, 2011 at 2:24
  • I think I saw in the lftp docs that you had to switch the local and remote dirs when using -R but I must have forgot. Updated my answer. Jan 12, 2011 at 2:29
  • How does it fail? Have you tried running 'lftp -vvv' for more verbose output to determine what it's trying to do? Jan 12, 2011 at 2:55
cd {local_dir}
lftp {server}
cd {remote_dir}
mput {local_dir}/*

This worked for me, many other attempts were failing. Once in lftp, more info available via:

help mput
  • 2
    It would probably be better to use mirror -R here.
    – gauteh
    Mar 24, 2017 at 7:29
  • @gauteh you're right. best answer ^
    – austin
    Mar 27, 2017 at 23:42

Based on Phil's idea of using lftp's mirror mode, this command does the trick:

lftp -c 'open -e "mirror /tmp/thedir ftp://nico:mypass@remotehost/~/destination/" ftp://nico:mypass@localhost'

A drawback is that it requires the local server to have an FTP server running.


Rather than the common answer of using mirroring, I often find it preferable to use mput, especially if there are several directories to transfer.

For example, given the following:

lftp> !ls

... if the goal is to transfer directories mydir[2-4], you can either clunkily use the mirror command:

lftp mirror -R mydir2 mydir2

... and repeat serially for mydir3 and mydir4... or you can use mput as follows:

lftp> mput -d mydir[2-4]/*

... and be done. The -d option is key here:

lftp> help mput
Usage: mput [OPTS] <files>
Upload files with wildcard expansion
 -d  create directories the same as in file names and put the
     files into them instead of current directory

Finally got the answer!!! Create shell script ftpmirror.sh

path = /local-dir-path
lftp -e "mirror -R $path /$path" -u username,password ftp-server-ip
  • Path = local directory which we want to copy into ftp server
  • username = ftp server user name
  • password = ftp server password
  • ftp-server-ip = IP address of ftp server

If lftp package is not installed the installed it using yum.

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