This is something always bothered me, and a simple search on Google shows millions of results on the subject, so it seems to be a real issue: why can't you do simple file operations such as copy+paste inside FTP software (like Filezilla, CuteFTP, SmartFTP and the likes)?

I know you can use ssh, and most hosting services have some kind of file manager that allows to do this on a GUI, so it seems it only affects FTP. Furthermore, the fact that hosts offer this GUI would neglect security reasons.

So, why is this not possible? Technical reasons? Protocol issues? Security concerns (don't think so, but still)? It obviously is very annoying to any user and provides a very poor experience, so I'm wondering what is the cause of this, and what prevents this from being fixed

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    since i have no reference i'll drop a lead here and someone maybe can build over it: though it's a guess i'm very certain it is a technical reason, the file transfer protocol - as its name implies - was not designed to control the host directory but instead to transfer files in and out (and delete). I think SE.ServerFault might have more qualified answers, you have my upvote as i'm hoping for a ux angle for this.
    – UX Labs
    Mar 12, 2019 at 23:01
  • I edited it. In addition to the reason, it would be interesting to know why it was not solved whatever the reason. I mean, despite the original purpose, I guess someone must have thought "hey, like w3c with HTML and CSS, maybe we could update this protocol" (but maybe it's impossible for some reason and I'm completely wrong!)
    – Devin
    Mar 12, 2019 at 23:09
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    What do you mean by "in FTP"? FTP is a protocol, are you actually asking "why doesn't the FTP protocol have commands for copy and paste?", but that doesn't make sense with your later question about technical or protocol issues?
    – dosxuk
    Apr 12, 2019 at 10:31
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    @dosxuk it obviously means "FTP software" and then what you understand makes sense. I'm correcting it just in case
    – Devin
    Apr 12, 2019 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


I know some that do support this (*), however, they are usually general purpose file managers with FTP support and not only FTP-clients.

From a technical point of view, copy-paste usually copies data to your machine's clipboard, then to the destination, which isn't a good idea with large or remote files, however, it is pretty simple to implement a copy-paste based on copying the URL and then downloading/uploading from URL instead. So, as a developer, I'd say the answer is laziness.

(*) E.g. Total Commander for Windows, ES File Manager for Android.

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    "copy-paste usually copies data to your machine's clipboard" – Usually it's just pointers to files. This can be seen when copy/pasting several GB of photos. On some computers, pasting "files" into a text editor will show the URIs.
    – 習約塔
    Jun 10, 2019 at 4:15
  • @xiota depends if you copy a file from the file manager (then it's a link) or if you copy data e.g. the content of a file. Jun 10, 2019 at 7:28
  • The question and your answer are about copying files, not data within files. – "isn't a good idea with large or remote files... simple to implement a copy-paste based on copying the URL"
    – 習約塔
    Jun 10, 2019 at 15:15
  • @xiota why would you make that assumption? I've been using FTP client applications for many years that do this successfully and it is very convenient to use. The user doesn't need to know how this UX-trick is implemented. As an engineer, I see no reason not to implement this in any UI based FTP client. Jun 10, 2019 at 21:07
  • Make what assumption? That the question is about files, not data? It's in the title... "copy and paste files". If implementation is unimportant, why do you describe an implementation of copying data from within files to the clipboard? Such an implementation would be unmanageable because common files, such as images, are too large.
    – 習約塔
    Jun 10, 2019 at 21:09

FTP is short for file transfer protocol and is a method to get files onto a remote web server. Although you are accessing a folder on a server through FTP, it is not a mapped network drive. I think this is more of an issue of linguistics. Copy/paste is generally used for local file transfer. Upload/download is generally used for remote file transfer.

In Windows you are able to copy/paste files through ftp. In an explorer window, enter the ftp address. It's usually either ftp://yourdomain.com or ftp.yourdomain.com (depending on how your hosting provider has it setup). Then here you can navigate the folders just like your local system's folders and use copy/paste (I copy/pasted the test.jpeg file onto my server).

enter image description here

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    So why won't FTP clients implement this? I think that's the question being asked. Apr 14, 2019 at 10:30
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    @AndrewLeach Because FTP is a file transfer between computers program and not a file relocator for the same computer which already has other programs to do the same thing.
    – Rob
    May 13, 2019 at 11:39

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