How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client

Joel Lee 03-08-2017

FTP can be useful for a number of things.


If you have web hosting, FTP is the primary way to transfer files onto the web server. (True whether you have free hosting The Best Free Website Hosting Services in 2019 Here are the best free web hosting services that offer a lot and have a better reputation than most. Read More , cheap hosting 9 Cheap Web Hosting Sites That Cost Under $3.50 Per Month Here are some of the best cheapest web hosts available today, all priced at under $3.50 per month. Read More , or even VPS hosting The Best Web Hosting Services: Shared, VPS, and Dedicated Looking for the best web hosting service for your needs? Here are our best recommendations for your blog or website. Read More .) You can also use FTP to transfer files between computers, from a computer to a mobile device, or vice versa.

One option is to install a third-party app called an FTP client, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you use FTP on a day-to-day basis, a better option is to use File Explorer instead. Here’s how you can set up File Explorer for easy FTP transfers.

Setting Up FTP in File Explorer

Adding FTP servers to File Explorer (formerly called Windows Explorer) has actually been a feature of the operating system since the Windows XP days 7 Ways Windows 10 is More Secure than Windows XP Even if you don't like Windows 10, you really should have migrated from Windows XP by now. We show you how the 13 year old operating system is now riddled with security issues. Read More . It was a bit clunky back then, but has improved over time and is now a solid option among dedicated FTP clients.

When an FTP server is added to File Explorer, you can access the server just as you’d access any other folder or drive on your system. Transferring files is as easy as drag-and-dropping or copy/pasting.

Step 1: Add a Network Location

Open up File Explorer (keyboard shortcut Windows key + E) and navigate to This PC in the sidebar. In the top menu, next to File, click Computer to open the ribbon menu, then click Add a network location.


How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp add network location

Step 2: Navigate the Wizard

On the welcome screen of the wizard, click Next. When prompted for where to create the network location, select Choose a custom network location, then click Next.

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp network wizard

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp network location


Step 3: Enter the FTP Server Address

When prompted, type in the IP address or domain name of the FTP server. If you’re transferring files for web hosting, you should have received an FTP address as part of your welcome email from your web host. If you’re connecting to another device on your local network, you can use a private internal IP address.

Be sure to include the ftp:// at the beginning, which indicates to Windows that you want to use the FTP protocol What SSH Is & How It's Different From FTP [Technology Explained] Read More .

If the FTP server uses a non-traditional port number (default port for FTP is 21), be sure to include that as well by appending a colon (:) and the port number.

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp ip address


Step 4: Enter Your Username (Optional)

Some FTP servers, such as file dumps or software distributors, allow public access for which you don’t need a username or password and can connect anonymously. For private FTP servers, like web hosts, you will.

Toggle the Log on anonymously box accordingly, and if necessary, type in your FTP username. For web hosting, this also should have been in your welcome email. If not, you may be able to create FTP accounts through your web host’s control panel.

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp username

Step 5: Name the FTP Server

Give the server a nickname so you don’t have to juggle IP addresses and risk getting confused. This is the name that will show up in File Explorer. When you’re done, click Next and then Finish.


How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp network name

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp setup complete

Step 6: Connect to the FTP Server

Back in File Explorer, navigate to This PC again, then look under the “Network Locations” section. You should see the FTP server with the nickname you gave. Double-click it to connect.

Enter your password, and check Save password if you don’t want to keep entering it every time, then click Log On. Success!

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp connect select

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp connect prompt

You can also browse the FTP server in the File Explorer sidebar. Expand This PC by clicking the arrow beside it, and you should see the newly added FTP server, which you can also expand by clicking its arrow. This is a convenient way to transfer files without opening two File Explorers.

FTP servers can also be added to Quick Access like any other folder. Learn more about why Quick Access is useful Navigate Your Favorite Files Faster in Windows 10 with Quick Access File Explorer in Windows 10 introduces a subtle change: The Favorites bar is now Quick Access, which relies on data to show your most used folders first. And you can still pin or hide folders. Read More and how to customize Quick Access How to Customize the Quick Access Menu in Windows 10 and 8 The Windows Quick Access menu is not as useful as it could be. We'll show you how to customize and re-organize the Win+X power use menu. Read More .

Step 7: Remove the FTP Server (Optional)

If you no longer need the FTP server, you can remove it by right-clicking on it and selecting Delete.

How to Turn Windows File Explorer Into an FTP Client windows 10 ftp remove

Other Ways to Transfer Files

Though FTP might be one of the more convenient methods (once everything is set up), it’s far from the only method of file transfer.

Computer to computer — There are several ways to transfer files between computers: use an external drive, share over LAN, use a transfer cable, directly connect drives, or use cloud storage sync.

Computer to mobile — Depending on what kind of computer and mobile device you have: use a USB cable, use Bluetooth, use WiFi Direct, transfer the SD card, or sync using an app like AirDroid or PushBullet.

Between Windows user accounts Home Network Tip: How to Share Files & Folders Between Windows User Accounts Sometimes computer can be physically very close together, but seem miles apart when you try transfer a file. Use this guide to help you fling files from PC to PC with the greatest of ease. Read More — If you’re looking to transfer from one account to another on the same computer, you can use the Homegroup or Workgroup features of the operating system, or you can sync using cloud storage as a medium.

What do you use FTP for? Are you going to use File Explorer going forward or do you prefer a third-party app? Share with us in the comments below!

Related topics: File Explorer, File Sharing, FTP, Windows Explorer.

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  1. Sam Hobbs
    November 20, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    I think I have the same problem as Doug. When I entered the user name it said I will enter a password when I connect. Yet it never asked for a password and it says it cannot connect. There is probably a security setting somewhere but if so then I have no idea where.

  2. Doug Noyce
    September 3, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    It all went well until it reported that it could not connect to the server. I set it up for my local network and used the IP for my phone (verified on the phone). No worky

    • Ben
      September 21, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      Worked for me on Windows 10 as of today 9/21/2019. Thank you. No more FTP.

  3. GodSponge
    August 5, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Does Explorer support SFTP? I'm not about to use regular FTP to my webserver.