How to use FTP to perform server to server transfers

Like many of you, I have my files spread across many locations in the cloud. A hosting site that seemed great five years ago may not be so great now. The only sure thing I have is my own domain. I’m more likely to keep that than another hosting site. When I first started with Lunarpages, they had a 5 GB storage limit but intense competition in the hosting space has forced them and many other companies to offer unlimited storage for all but the most entry level accounts. Now that I have so much space, I can afford to consolidate all my files into a central location. Sure I can re-upload the files into a central location but if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t conveniently have access to a local version of the files you might want to copy the files from one server to another.

One solution is to perform a server to server ftp transfer. Many of you are familiar with ftp to transfer files from your computer to a host or back. Most ftp program do not support this function but I found a free ftp program call BitKinex that does just that. This feature is called indirect transfer. The FTP protocol allows direct server-to-server transfers, but in reality, such transfers are often impossible due to firewalls. BitKinex is able to transfer files from one server to another even if these servers run different transfer protocols and/or if there are firewalls protecting the participating networks. How is this possible ? When transferring files between two servers BitKinex uses the local computer as a temporary storage for the transferred files. There is no direct connection between the two servers. BitKinex downloads a file to a temporary folder on the local machine and then uploads it to the destination server. All these steps are performed automatically and the user does not need to take any action at any time during the completion of this entire process.

Using this method, you can backup or transfer entire directories from one site to another. Some common  uses include:

  • Backup of photo hosting sites.
  • Moving entire sites from one host to another (excluding database files which are not supported by ftp backup)
  • Consolidate image hosting sites. I have used at least 5 or 6 that I can remember.

Keep in mind this will only work if the source and target site supports ftp transfers. This is no different than using any ftp program to download your files from one source and re-uploading them to another target but it does help automate the task a bit. Now if you have access to the local copies of the files, it’s best to just upload those as it will cut your transfer bandwidth in half. But for those rare occasions where you only have access to online versions of the files, this might be the solution you’re looking for.