I'm relatively new to FTP. My friend and I are attempting to collaborate on a project. He has created an FTP server but, when I connect through the Atom editor's "Remote FTP" package, I'm given the error unable to parse PASV server response. Upon further research, this error doesn't seem to be an error specific to Atom but a broader error defined by the FTP protocol. I also couldn't connect through WinSCP and, after switching to FileZilla, was able to get FTP working. I would rather have Atom's FTP package work for convenience. Could someone explain the meaning of the error and what can be done to fix it?

I receive this error in WinSCP:

Timeout detected. (control connection) Could not retrieve directory listing Error listing directory '/'.

My friend's server is actually a router running Advanced Tomato. There is an external storage device plugged into the USB port where all the files are located.

Thank you.

closed as off-topic by yoonix, Jenny D, kasperd, MadHatter, mdpc Jan 3 '18 at 23:29

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This suggests that the Atom FTP client isn't handling passive mode correctly. There may be a setting to deal with it, or if it has an interactive mode you may have to send SET PASV somehow.


After further testing and research, I discovered my network to be the cause of the problem. I use tethering as my primary network connection (my carrier is T-Mobile though carrier isn't relevant to the problem as I understand it).

Apparently, FTP is known to have bugs over cellular networks according to this post I found.

Due to its architecture the FTP protocol does not work very well in environments making use of NAT. NAT is heavily used in mobile networks and the used helper applications are sometimes buggy, which might explain the difference you see. There might be other reasons while it fails in one network but succeeds in the other but without having lots of details about the networks all is speculation.

I strongly recommend to move away from FTP and instead use SFTP, that is file transfer over SSH. FileZilla supports SFTP but you need an SSH server setup at the server side. But don't confuse SFTP with FTPS which is FTP with TLS and has even more problems in environments using NAT.

I connected with SFTP and everything works reliably now. Hopefully this post is helpful to someone.

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