FTP or similar through a browser? Help me practice coding.
March 13, 2019 4:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I easily do FTP-client-ish stuff without installing a proper FTP client on my work laptop?

As in this Ask Me, I have a mind-numbing tmep job so I'm taking an MOOC on PHP to better myself.

I'd like to spend time at work fiddling with PHP and MySQL. Unfortunately, I can't install an Apache server on my computer because I don't have admin privileges. I have an Apache server running on the host for my personal website, but for the same admin reason I can't install an FTP client there, either.

I figured out how to download my server's files through my browser, but it doesn't allow for easy uploading or general fiddling. Is there an easy workaround for this that doesn't involve installing new software? Maybe some browser extension I've been unable to find? I have Chrome, Explorer, and Firefox already installed. I'm a beginner, so it's quite possible that I'm missing some obvious solution.
posted by HeroZero to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If on a Windows machine, you can try to FTP using the Command Prompt


i usually do like:

ftp ftp.mysite.com
[it'll ask you to log in]
cd whateversubfolder
mget downloadthesefiles*.*
mput uploadthesefiles*.*
posted by Seboshin at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

What method did you used to download the files in the browser?

What hosting do you have? Is there a File Manager in the CPanel of your hosting account?
posted by humboldt32 at 4:12 PM on March 13, 2019

Huh. Didn't know you could do that. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to learn something new!

You can use File Explorer (Windows-E) as an FTP client, and then just drag and drop like it was any local window on your device. Put your FTP info in the "address bar" of File Explorer in this format: ftp://username:password@ftpsite.com/ and then drag and drop to your heart's content!
posted by sacrifix at 4:21 PM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Could you install something like Xampp on your local machine? I don't know how needy that is in terms of admin rites, but it's basically a pre-bundled web server with PHP integration intended for local development.
posted by Alensin at 4:29 PM on March 13, 2019

Could you run an FTP client from a flash drive? FileZilla looks to be one option
posted by kbuxton at 5:47 PM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can you ssh into the target box? If so scp (pscp in putty/windows) will transfer files with good encryption. A fair number of text editors (cough emacs;-) I think sublime and textmate use the protocol for remote editing. It can be a tiny bit of a learning curve but really worth the effort.
posted by sammyo at 5:49 PM on March 13, 2019

Maybe I'm off base but can't you just rent shell access to a server where you DO have privileges for a few dollars a month? I haven't done this in a long time but a quick google seems to indicate various providers are readily available with lots of different options and price points. If nothing else you could try it short term for a few months to learn about how well it would work longer term.

Another tack is to boot TAILS (the Total Amnesiac Incognito Live System) if you can, which could give you some leeway, if you can boot it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2019

Look into Portable Apps. You can download many apps to a flash drive and run them directly from there with no installation required. FileZilla is one that’s available. I believe there’s even an XAMPP server stack available there.
posted by lhauser at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding portable apps. I haven't yet found an IT policy not skirted by them.
posted by deadwax at 2:02 AM on March 14, 2019

FireFTP is an FTP client Firefox extension, I've used it for over a decade.

Edit: turns out support was removed for it in 2017 :( I've been using PaleMoon for years and it still works but if you can't install a new browser then that wont work :( Unless its an old version of Firefox
posted by missmagenta at 3:29 AM on March 14, 2019

Besides Filezilla a WinSCP portable app is available which is what I use for FTP on the go.
posted by Mitheral at 4:36 AM on March 14, 2019

Thanks y'all. Just using the Windows Fire Explorer bar was the most lightweight solution, but thanks for the rest of this info.
posted by HeroZero at 9:27 AM on March 14, 2019

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