Version 26 (modified by schwa, 11 years ago) (diff)

Updated documentation for release 2.5.

ftputil -- a high-level FTP client library

Version: 2.5
Date: 2010-10-24
Summary:high-level FTP client library for Python
Keywords:FTP, ftplib substitute, virtual filesystem, pure Python
Author: Stefan Schwarzer <>
Russian translation:
 Anton Stepanov <>


The ftputil module is a high-level interface to the ftplib module. The FTPHost objects generated from it allow many operations similar to those of os, os.path and shutil.


import ftputil

# Download some files from the login directory.
host = ftputil.FTPHost('', 'user', 'password')
names = host.listdir(host.curdir)
for name in names:
    if host.path.isfile(name):, name, 'b')  # remote, local, binary mode

# Make a new directory and copy a remote file into it.
source = host.file('index.html', 'r')         # file-like object
target = host.file('newdir/index.html', 'w')  # file-like object
host.copyfileobj(source, target)  # similar to shutil.copyfileobj

Also, there are FTPHost.lstat and FTPHost.stat to request size and modification time of a file. The latter can also follow links, similar to os.stat. Even FTPHost.walk and FTPHost.path.walk work.

ftputil features

  • Method names are familiar from Python's os, os.path and shutil modules
  • Remote file system navigation (getcwd, chdir)
  • Upload and download files (upload, upload_if_newer, download, download_if_newer)
  • Time zone synchronization between client and server (needed for upload_if_newer and download_if_newer)
  • Create and remove directories (mkdir, makedirs, rmdir, rmtree) and remove files (remove)
  • Get information about directories, files and links (listdir, stat, lstat, exists, isdir, isfile, islink, abspath, split, join, dirname, basename etc.)
  • Iterate over remote file systems (walk)
  • Local caching of results from lstat and stat calls to reduce network access (also applies to exists, getmtime etc.).
  • Read files from and write files to remote hosts via file-like objects (FTPHost.file; the generated file-like objects have many common methods like read, readline, readlines, write, writelines, close and can do automatic line ending conversions on the fly, i. e. text/binary mode).

Exception hierarchy

The exceptions are in the namespace of the ftp_error module, e. g. ftp_error.TemporaryError.

The exception classes are organized as follows:

    FTPOSError(FTPError, OSError)

and are described here:

  • FTPError

    is the root of the exception hierarchy of the module.

  • FTPOSError

    is derived from OSError. This is for similarity between the os module and FTPHost objects. Compare

    except OSError:


    host = ftputil.FTPHost('host', 'user', 'password')
    except OSError:

    Imagine a function

    def func(path, file):

    which works on the local file system and catches OSErrors. If you change the parameter list to

    def func(path, file, os=os):

    where os denotes the os module, you can call the function also as

    host = ftputil.FTPHost('host', 'user', 'password')
    func(path, file, os=host)

    to use the same code for both a local and remote file system. Another similarity between OSError and FTPOSError is that the latter holds the FTP server return code in the errno attribute of the exception object and the error text in strerror.

  • PermanentError

    is raised for 5xx return codes from the FTP server. This corresponds to ftplib.error_perm (though PermanentError and ftplib.error_perm are not identical).

  • CommandNotImplementedError

    indicates that an underlying command the code tries to use is not implemented. For an example, see the description of the FTPHost.chmod method.

  • TemporaryError

    is raised for FTP return codes from the 4xx category. This corresponds to ftplib.error_temp (though TemporaryError and ftplib.error_temp are not identical).

  • FTPIOError

    denotes an I/O error on the remote host. This appears mainly with file-like objects which are retrieved by invoking FTPHost.file ( is an alias). Compare

    >>> try:
    ...     f = open('not_there')
    ... except IOError, obj:
    ...     print obj.errno
    ...     print obj.strerror
    No such file or directory


    >>> host = ftputil.FTPHost('host', 'user', 'password')
    >>> try:
    ...     f ='not_there')
    ... except IOError, obj:
    ...     print obj.errno
    ...     print obj.strerror
    550 not_there: No such file or directory.

    As you can see, both code snippets are similar. However, the error codes aren't the same.

  • InternalError

    subsumes exception classes for signaling errors due to limitations of the FTP protocol or the concrete implementation of ftputil.

  • InaccessibleLoginDirError

    This exception is only raised if both of the following conditions are met:

    • The directory in which "you" are placed upon login is not accessible, i. e. a chdir call with the directory as argument would fail.
    • You try to access a path which contains whitespace.
  • ParserError

    is used for errors during the parsing of directory listings from the server. This exception is used by the FTPHost methods stat, lstat, and listdir.

  • RootDirError

    Because of the implementation of the lstat method it is not possible to do a stat call on the root directory /. If you know any way to do it, please let me know. :-)

    This problem does not affect stat calls on items in the root directory.

  • TimeShiftError

    is used to denote errors which relate to setting the time shift, for example trying to set a value which is no multiple of a full hour.

FTPHost objects



FTPHost instances can be generated with the following call:

host = ftputil.FTPHost(host, user, password, account,

The first four parameters are strings with the same meaning as for the FTP class in the ftplib module.

Session factories

The keyword argument session_factory may be used to generate FTP connections with other factories than the default ftplib.FTP. For example, the M2Crypto distribution uses a secure FTP class which is derived from ftplib.FTP.

In fact, all positional and keyword arguments other than session_factory are passed to the factory to generate a new background session. This happens for every remote file that is opened; see below.

This functionality of the constructor also allows to wrap ftplib.FTP objects to do something that wouldn't be possible with the ftplib.FTP constructor alone.

As an example, assume you want to connect to another than the default port, but ftplib.FTP only offers this by means of its connect method, not via its constructor. The solution is to use a wrapper class:

import ftplib
import ftputil


class MySession(ftplib.FTP):
    def __init__(self, host, userid, password, port):
        """Act like ftplib.FTP's constructor but connect to another port."""
        self.connect(host, port)
        self.login(userid, password)

# Try not to use MySession() as factory, - use the class itself.
host = ftputil.FTPHost(host, userid, password,
                       port=EXAMPLE_PORT, session_factory=MySession)
# Use `host` as usual.

On login, the format of the directory listings (needed for stat'ing files and directories) should be determined automatically. If not, please file a bug report.

Support for the with statement

If you are sure that all the users of your code use at least Python 2.5, you can use Python's with statement:

# Not needed for Python 2.6 and later
from __future__ import with_statement

import ftputil

with ftputil.FTPHost(host, user, password) as host:
    print host.listdir(host.curdir)

After the with block, the FTPHost instance and the associated FTP sessions will be closed automatically.

If something goes wrong during the FTPHost construction or in the body of the with statement, the instance is closed as well. Exceptions will be propagated (as with try ... finally).

FTPHost attributes and methods


  • curdir, pardir, sep

    are strings which denote the current and the parent directory on the remote server. sep holds the path separator. Though RFC 959 (File Transfer Protocol) notes that these values may depend on the FTP server implementation, the Unix variants seem to work well in practice, even for non-Unix servers.

Remote file system navigation

  • getcwd()

    returns the absolute current directory on the remote host. This method acts similar to os.getcwd.

  • chdir(directory)

    sets the current directory on the FTP server. This resembles os.chdir, as you may have expected.

Uploading and downloading files

  • upload(source, target, mode='', callback=None)

    copies a local source file (given by a filename, i. e. a string) to the remote host under the name target. Both source and target may be absolute paths or relative to their corresponding current directory (on the local or the remote host, respectively).

    The mode may be "" or "a" for ASCII uploads or "b" for binary uploads. ASCII mode is the default, similar to regular local file objects.

    The callback, if given, will be invoked for each transferred chunk of data:


    where chunk is a bytestring. An example usage of a callback method is to display a progress indicator.

  • download(source, target, mode='', callback=None)

    performs a download from the remote source to a target file. Both source and target are strings. See the description of upload for more details.

  • upload_if_newer(source, target, mode='', callback=None)

    is similar to the upload method. The only difference is that the upload is only invoked if the time of the last modification for the source file is more recent than that of the target file or the target doesn't exist at all. The check for the last modification time considers the precision of the timestamps and transfers a file "if in doubt". Consequently the code

    host.upload_if_newer('source_file', 'target_file', 'b')
    host.upload_if_newer('source_file', 'target_file', 'b')

    might upload the file again if the timestamp of the target file is precise up to a minute, which is typically the case because the remote datetime is determined by parsing a directory listing from the server. To avoid unnecessary transfers, wait at least a minute between calls of upload_if_newer for the same file. If it still seems that a file is uploaded unnecessarily (or not when it should), read the subsection on time shift settings.

    If an upload actually happened, the return value of upload_if_newer is a true value, else a false value.

    Note that the method only checks the existence and/or the modification time of the source and target file; it can't recognize a change in the transfer mode, e. g.

    # Transfer in ASCII mode.
    host.upload_if_newer('source_file', 'target_file', 'a')
    # Won't transfer the file again, which is bad!
    host.upload_if_newer('source_file', 'target_file', 'b')

    Similarly, if a transfer is interrupted, the remote file will have a newer modification time than the local file, and thus the transfer won't be repeated if upload_if_newer is used a second time. There are at least two possibilities after a failed upload:

    • use upload instead of upload_if_newer, or
    • remove the incomplete target file with FTPHost.remove, then use upload or upload_if_newer to transfer it again.
  • download_if_newer(source, target, mode='', callback=None)

    corresponds to upload_if_newer but performs a download from the server to the local host. Read the descriptions of download and upload_if_newer for more. If a download actually happened, the return value is a true value, else a false value.

Time zone correction

If the client where ftputil runs and the server have a different understanding of their local times, this has to be taken into account for upload_if_newer and download_if_newer to work correctly.

Note that even if the client and the server are in the same time zone (or even on the same computer), the time shift value (see below) may be different from zero. For example, my computer is set to use local time whereas the server running on the very same host insists on using UTC time.

  • set_time_shift(time_shift)

    sets the so-called time shift value, measured in seconds. The time shift is the difference between the local time of the server and the local time of the client at a given moment, i. e. by definition

    time_shift = server_time - client_time

    Setting this value is important for upload_if_newer and download_if_newer to work correctly even if the time zone of the FTP server differs from that of the client. Note that the time shift value can be negative.

    If the time shift value is invalid, e. g. no multiple of a full hour or its absolute value larger than 24 hours, a TimeShiftError is raised.

    See also synchronize_times for a way to set the time shift with a simple method call.

  • time_shift()

    returns the currently-set time shift value. See set_time_shift above for its definition.

  • synchronize_times()

    synchronizes the local times of the server and the client, so that upload_if_newer and download_if_newer work as expected, even if the client and the server use different time zones. For this to work, all of the following conditions must be true:

    • The connection between server and client is established.
    • The client has write access to the directory that is current when synchronize_times is called.

    If you can't fulfill these conditions, you can nevertheless set the time shift value explicitly with set_time_shift. Trying to call synchronize_times if the above conditions aren't met results in a TimeShiftError exception.

Creating and removing directories

  • mkdir(path, [mode])

    makes the given directory on the remote host. This doesn't construct "intermediate" directories which don't already exist. The mode parameter is ignored; this is for compatibility with os.mkdir if an FTPHost object is passed into a function instead of the os module. See the explanation in the subsection Exception hierarchy.

  • makedirs(path, [mode])

    works similar to mkdir (see above), but also makes intermediate directories like os.makedirs. The mode parameter is only there for compatibility with os.makedirs and is ignored.

  • rmdir(path)

    removes the given remote directory. If it's not empty, raise a PermanentError.

  • rmtree(path, ignore_errors=False, onerror=None)

    removes the given remote, possibly non-empty, directory tree. The interface of this method is rather complex, in favor of compatibility with shutil.rmtree.

    If ignore_errors is set to a true value, errors are ignored. If ignore_errors is a false value and onerror isn't set, all exceptions occurring during the tree iteration and processing are raised. These exceptions are all of type PermanentError.

    To distinguish between different kinds of errors, pass in a callable for onerror. This callable must accept three arguments: func, path and exc_info. func is a bound method object, for example your_host_object.listdir. path is the path that was the recent argument of the respective method (listdir, remove, rmdir). exc_info is the exception info as it is gotten from sys.exc_info.

    The code of rmtree is taken from Python's shutil module and adapted for ftputil.

Local caching of file system information

Many of the above methods need access to the remote file system to obtain data on directories and files. To get the most recent data, each call to lstat, stat, exists, getmtime etc. would require to fetch a directory listing from the server, which can make the program very slow. This effect is more pronounced for operations which mostly scan the file system rather than transferring file data.

For this reason, ftputil by default saves the results from directory listings locally and reuses those results. This reduces network accesses and so speeds up the software a lot. However, since data is more rarely fetched from the server, the risk of obsolete data also increases. This will be discussed below.

Caching can be controlled -- if necessary at all -- via the stat_cache object in an FTPHost's namespace. For example, after calling

host = ftputil.FTPHost(host, user, password, account,

the cache can be accessed as host.stat_cache.

While ftputil usually manages the cache quite well, there are two possible reasons that may suggest modifying cache parameters. The first is when the number of possible entries is too low. You may notice that when you are processing very large directories, e. g. containing more than 1000 directories or files, and the program becomes much slower than before. It's common for code to read a directory with listdir and then process the found directories and files. For this application, it's a good rule of thumb to set the cache size to somewhat more than the number of directory entries fetched with listdir. This is done by the resize method:


where the argument is the maximum number of lstat results to store (the default is 1000). Note that each path on the server, e. g. "/home/schwa/some_dir", corresponds to a single cache entry. Methods like exists or getmtime all derive their results from a previously fetched lstat result.

The value 2000 above means that the cache will hold at most 2000 entries. If more are about to be stored, the entries which haven't been used for the longest time will be deleted to make place for newer entries.

Caching is so effective because it reduces network accesses. This can also be a disadvantage if the file system data on the remote server changes after a stat result has been retrieved; the client, when looking at the cached stat data, will use obsolete information.

There are two ways to get such out-of-date stat data. The first happens when an FTPHost instance modifies a file path for which it has a cache entry, e. g. by calling remove or rmdir. Such changes are handled transparently; the path will be deleted from the cache. A different matter are changes unknown to the FTPHost object which inspects its cache. Obviously, for example, these are changes by programs running on the remote host. On the other hand, cache inconsistencies can also occur if two FTPHost objects change a file system simultaneously:

host1 = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user1, password1)
host2 = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user1, password1)
    stat_result1 = host1.stat("some_file")
    stat_result2 = host2.stat("some_file")
    # `host1` will still see the obsolete cache entry!
    print host1.stat("some_file")
    # Will raise an exception since an `FTPHost` object
    #  knows of its own changes.
    print host2.stat("some_file")

At first sight, it may appear to be a good idea to have a shared cache among several FTPHost objects. After some thinking, this turns out to be very error-prone. For example, it won't help with different processes using ftputil. So, if you have to deal with concurrent write/read accesses to a server, you have to handle them explicitly.

The most useful tool for this is the invalidate method. In the example above, it could be used like this:

host1 = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user1, password1)
host2 = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user1, password1)
    stat_result1 = host1.stat("some_file")
    stat_result2 = host2.stat("some_file")
    # Invalidate using an absolute path.
    absolute_path = host1.path.abspath(
                    host1.path.join(host1.curdir, "some_file"))
    # Will now raise an exception as it should
    print host1.stat("some_file")
    # Would raise an exception since an `FTPHost` object
    #  knows of its own changes, even without `invalidate`
    print host2.stat("some_file")

The method invalidate can be used on any absolute path, be it a directory, a file or a link.

By default, the cache entries (if not replaced by newer ones) are stored for an infinite time. That is, if you start your Python process using ftputil and let it run for three days a stat call may still access cache data that old. To avoid this, you can set the max_age attribute:

host = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user, password)
host.stat_cache.max_age = 60 * 60  # = 3600 seconds

This sets the maximum age of entries in the cache to an hour. This means any entry older won't be retrieved from the cache but its data instead fetched again from the remote host and then again stored for up to an hour. To reset max_age to the default of unlimited age, i. e. cache entries never expire, use None as value.

If you are certain that the cache will be in the way, you can disable and later re-enable it completely with disable and enable:

host = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user, password)

During that time, the cache won't be used; all data will be fetched from the network. After enabling the cache, its entries will be the same as when the cache was disabled, that is, entries won't get updated with newer data during this period. Note that even when the cache is disabled, the file system data in the code can become inconsistent:

host = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user, password)
if host.path.exists("some_file"):
    mtime = host.path.getmtime("some_file")

In that case, the file some_file may have been removed by another process between the calls to exists and getmtime!

Iteration over directories

  • walk(top, topdown=True, onerror=None)

    iterates over a directory tree, similar to os.walk. Actually, FTPHost.walk uses the code from Python with just the necessary modifications, so see the linked documentation.

  • path.walk(path, func, arg)

    Similar to os.path.walk, the walk method in FTPHost.path can be used, though FTPHost.walk is probably easier to use.

Other methods

  • close()

    closes the connection to the remote host. After this, no more interaction with the FTP server is possible without using a new FTPHost object.

  • rename(source, target)

    renames the source file (or directory) on the FTP server.

  • chmod(path, mode)

    sets the access mode (permission flags) for the given path. The mode is an integer as returned for the mode by the stat and lstat methods. Be careful: Usually, mode values are written as octal numbers, for example 0755 to make a directory readable and writable for the owner, but not writable for the group and others. If you want to use such octal values, rely on Python's support for them:

    host.chmod("some_directory", 0755)

    Note the leading zero.

    Not all FTP servers support the chmod command. In case of an exception, how do you know if the path doesn't exist or if the command itself is invalid? If the FTP server complies with RFC 959, it should return a status code 502 if the SITE CHMOD command isn't allowed. ftputil maps this special error response to a CommandNotImplementedError which is derived from PermanentError.

    So you need to code like this:

    host = ftputil.FTPHost(server, user, password)
        host.chmod("some_file", 0644)
    except ftp_error.CommandNotImplementedError:
        # `chmod` not supported
    except ftp_error.PermanentError:
        # Possibly a non-existent file

    Because the CommandNotImplementedError is more specific, you have to test for it first.

  • copyfileobj(source, target, length=64*1024)

    copies the contents from the file-like object source to the file-like object target. The only difference to shutil.copyfileobj is the default buffer size. Note that arbitrary file-like objects can be used as arguments (e. g. local files, remote FTP files). See File-like objects for construction and use of remote file-like objects.

  • set_parser(parser)

    sets a custom parser for FTP directories. Note that you have to pass in a parser instance, not the class.

    An extra section shows how to write own parsers if the default parsers in ftputil don't work for you. Possibly you are lucky and someone has already written a parser you can use. Please ask on the mailing list.

  • keep_alive()

    attempts to keep the connection to the remote server active in order to prevent timeouts from happening. This method is primarily intended to keep the underlying FTP connection of an FTPHost object alive while a file is uploaded or downloaded. This will require either an extra thread while the upload or download is in progress or calling keep_alive from a callback function.

    The keep_alive method won't help if the connection has already timed out. In this case, a ftp_error.TemporaryError is raised.

    If you want to use this method, keep in mind that FTP servers define a timeout for a reason. A timeout prevents running out of server connections because of clients that never disconnect on their own.

    Note that the keep_alive method does not affect the "hidden" FTP connections established by You can't use keep_alive to avoid a timeout in a stalling transfer like this:

    host = ftputil.FTPHost(server, userid, password)
    fobj ="some_remote_file", 'rb')
    data =
    # _Futile_ attempt to avoid file connection timeout
    for i in xrange(15):
    # Will raise an `ftp_error.TemporaryError`
    data +=

File-like objects



FTPFile objects are returned by a call to FTPHost.file or, never use the constructor directly.

  • FTPHost.file(path, mode='r')

    returns a file-like object that refers to the path on the remote host. This path may be absolute or relative to the current directory on the remote host (this directory can be determined with the getcwd method). As with local file objects the default mode is "r", i. e. reading text files. Valid modes are "r", "rb", "w", and "wb".

  •, mode='r')

    is an alias for file (see above).

Support for the with statement

If you are sure that all the users of your code use at least Python 2.5, you can use Python's with statement with the FTPFile constructor:

# Not needed for Python 2.6 and later
from __future__ import with_statement

import ftputil

# Get an ``FTPHost`` object from somewhere.

with host.file("new_file", "w") as f:
    f.write("This is some text.")

At the end of the with block, the file will be closed automatically.

If something goes wrong during the construction of the file or in the body of the with statement, the file will be closed as well. Exceptions will be propagated as with try ... finally.

Attributes and methods

The methods


and the attribute closed have the same semantics as for file objects of a local disk file system. The iterator protocol is supported as well, i. e. you can use a loop to read a file line by line:

host = ftputil.FTPHost(...)
input_file = host.file("some_file")
for line in input_file:
    # Do something with the line, e. g.
    print line.strip().replace("ftplib", "ftputil")

For more on file objects, see the section File objects in the Python Library Reference.

Note that ftputil supports both binary mode and text mode with the appropriate line ending conversions.

Writing directory parsers

ftputil recognizes the two most widely-used FTP directory formats (Unix and MS style) and adjusts itself automatically. However, if your server uses a format which is different from the two provided by ftputil, you can plug in a custom parser and have it used by a single method call.

For this, you need to write a parser class by inheriting from the class Parser in the ftp_stat module. Here's an example:

from ftputil import ftp_error
from ftputil import ftp_stat

class XyzParser(ftp_stat.Parser):
    Parse the default format of the FTP server of the XYZ
    def parse_line(self, line, time_shift=0.0):
        Parse a `line` from the directory listing and return a
        corresponding `StatResult` object. If the line can't
        be parsed, raise `ftp_error.ParserError`.

        The `time_shift` argument can be used to fine-tune the
        parsing of dates and times. See the class
        `ftp_stat.UnixParser` for an example.
        # Split the `line` argument and examine it further; if
        #  something goes wrong, raise an `ftp_error.ParserError`.
        # Make a `StatResult` object from the parts above.
        stat_result = ftp_stat.StatResult(...)
        # `_st_name`, `_st_target` and `_st_mtime_precision` are optional.
        stat_result._st_name = ...
        stat_result._st_target = ...
        stat_result._st_mtime_precision = ...
        return stat_result

    # Define `ignores_line` only if the default in the base class
    #  doesn't do enough!
    def ignores_line(self, line):
        Return a true value if the line should be ignored. For
        example, the implementation in the base class handles
        lines like "total 17". On the other hand, if the line
        should be used for stat'ing, return a false value.
        is_total_line = super(XyzParser, self).ignores_line(line)
        my_test = ...
        return is_total_line or my_test

A StatResult object is similar to the value returned by os.stat and is usually built with statements like

stat_result = StatResult(
              (st_mode, st_ino, st_dev, st_nlink, st_uid,
               st_gid, st_size, st_atime, st_mtime, st_ctime) )
stat_result._st_name = ...
stat_result._st_target = ...
stat_result._st_mtime_precision = ...

with the arguments of the StatResult constructor described in the following table.

Index Attribute os.stat type StatResult type Notes
0 st_mode int int  
1 st_ino long long  
2 st_dev long long  
3 st_nlink int int  
4 st_uid int str usually only available as string
5 st_gid int str usually only available as string
6 st_size long long  
7 st_atime int/float float  
8 st_mtime int/float float  
9 st_ctime int/float float  
- _st_name - str file name without directory part
- _st_target - str link target (may be absolute or relative)
- _st_mtime_precision - int st_mtime precision in seconds

If you can't extract all the desirable data from a line (for example, the MS format doesn't contain any information about the owner of a file), set the corresponding values in the StatResult instance to None.

Parser classes can use several helper methods which are defined in the class Parser:

  • parse_unix_mode parses strings like "drwxr-xr-x" and returns an appropriate st_mode value.
  • parse_unix_time returns a float number usable for the st_...time values by parsing arguments like "Nov"/"23"/"02:33" or "May"/"26"/"2005". Note that the method expects the timestamp string already split at whitespace.
  • parse_ms_time parses arguments like "10-23-01"/"03:25PM" and returns a float number like from time.mktime. Note that the method expects the timestamp string already split at whitespace.

Additionally, there's an attribute _month_numbers which maps lowercase three-letter month abbreviations to integers.

For more details, see the two "standard" parsers UnixParser and MSParser in the module

To actually use the parser, call the method set_parser of the FTPHost instance.

If you can't write a parser or don't want to, please ask on the ftputil mailing list. Possibly someone has already written a parser for your server or can help to do it.

FAQ / Tips and tricks

Where can I get the latest version?

See the download page. Announcements will be sent to the mailing list. Announcements on major updates will also be posted to the newsgroup comp.lang.python .

Is there a mailing list on ftputil?

Yes, please visit to subscribe or read the archives.

Though you can technically post without subscribing first I can't recommend that: The mails from non-subscribers have to be approved by me and because the arriving mails contain lots of spam, I rarely go through these mails.

I found a bug! What now?

Before reporting a bug, make sure that you already read this manual and tried the latest version of ftputil. There the bug might have already been fixed.

Please see for guidelines on entering a bug in ftputil's ticket system. If you are unsure if the behaviour you found is a bug or not, you should write to the ftputil mailing list. In either case you must not include confidential information (user id, password, file names, etc.) in the problem report! Be careful!

Does ftputil support SSL?

ftputil has no built-in SSL support. On the other hand, you can use M2Crypto (in the source code archive, look for the file M2Crypto/ which has a class derived from ftplib.FTP that supports SSL. You then can use a class (not an object of it) similar to the following as a "session factory" in ftputil.FTPHost's constructor:

import ftputil

from M2Crypto import ftpslib

class SSLFTPSession(ftpslib.FTP_TLS):

    def __init__(self, host, userid, password):
        Use M2Crypto's `FTP_TLS` class to establish an
        SSL connection.
        # Do anything necessary to set up the SSL connection.
        self.connect(host, port)
        self.login(userid, password)

# Note the `session_factory` parameter.
host = ftputil.FTPHost(host, userid, password,
# Use `host` as usual.

If you work with Python 2.7 or the upcoming 3.2 release, you can use a similar recipe with the new class FTP_TLS in the ftplib module. Note that you need to call prot_p on the FTP_TLS instance to actually use a secure transfer. This makes it still necessary to define a session class similar to the one above.

How do I connect to a non-default port?

By default, an instantiated FTPHost object connects on the usual FTP ports. If you have to use a different port, refer to the section FTPHost construction.

You can use the same approach to connect in active or passive mode, as you like.

How to switch between active and passive connections?

Use a wrapper class for ftplib.FTP, as described in section FTPHost construction:

import ftplib

class ActiveFTPSession(ftplib.FTP):
    def __init__(self, host, userid, password):
        Act like ftplib.FTP's constructor but use active mode
        self.connect(host, port)
        self.login(userid, password)
        # See

Use this class as the session_factory argument in FTPHost's constructor.

When iterating over directories, ftputil becomes unbearably slow

You probably iterate over a directory with more than 1000 items (directories and files) in it and use methods like lstat or isdir for that.

Even though ftputil uses a cache to store stat information used by these methods, the cache's default size is 1000 entries. If your directory contains more items, the first entries will have been flushed from the cache by the time the iteration over the items starts.

To avoid this problem, increase the cache size to the size of the largest directory you expect:

ftp_host = ftputil.FTPHost(host, userid, password)
# Increase cache size to hold at most 10000 entries.

For details on caching read Local caching of file system information.

Support for an auto-resize feature is planned for future versions of ftputil. This won't be fool-proof either, but will most likely work for the case described above.

Conditional upload/download to/from a server in a different time zone

You may find that ftputil uploads or downloads files unnecessarily, or not when it should. This can happen when the FTP server is in a different time zone than the client on which ftputil runs. Please see the section on time zone correction. It may even be sufficient to call synchronize_times.

Wrong dates or times when stat'ing on a server

Please see the previous tip.

I tried to upload or download a file and it's corrupt

Perhaps you used the upload or download methods without a mode argument. For compatibility with Python's code for local file systems, ftputil defaults to ASCII/text mode which will try to convert presumable line endings and thus corrupt binary files. Pass "b" as the mode argument (see Uploading and downloading files).

When I use ftputil, all I get is a ParserError exception

The FTP server you connect to uses a directory format that ftputil doesn't understand. You can either write and plug in an own parser, or preferably ask on the mailing list for help.

I don't find an answer to my problem in this document

Please send an email with your problem report or question to the ftputil mailing list, and we'll see what we can do for you. :-)

Bugs and limitations

  • ftputil needs at least Python 2.3 to work.
  • Due to the implementation of lstat it can not return a sensible value for the root directory / though stat'ing entries in the root directory isn't a problem. If you know an implementation that can do this, please let me know. The root directory is handled appropriately in FTPHost.path.exists/isfile/isdir/islink, though.
  • Timeouts of individual child sessions currently are not handled. This is only a problem if your FTPHost object or the generated FTPFile objects are inactive for about ten minutes or longer.
  • Until now, I haven't paid attention to thread safety. In principle, at least, different FTPFile objects should be usable in different threads. If in doubt if your approach will work, ask on the mailing list.
  • FTPFile objects in text mode may not support charsets with more than one byte per character. Please e-mail your experiences to the mailing list (see above), if you work with multibyte text streams in FTP sessions.
  • Currently, it is not possible to continue an interrupted upload or download. Contact me if you have problems with that.
  • There's exactly one cache for lstat results for each FTPHost object, i. e. there's no sharing of cache results determined by several FTPHost objects.


If not overwritten via installation options, the ftputil files reside in the ftputil package. The documentation in reStructuredText and in HTML format is in the same directory.

The files _test_*.py and are for unit-testing. If you only use ftputil, i. e. don't modify it, you can delete these files.



ftputil is written by Stefan Schwarzer <>, in part based on suggestions from users.

The lrucache module is written by Evan Prodromou <>.

Feedback is appreciated. :-)