How to Connect to an FTP Server from iPhone?

FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, a standard communication protocol used for the data transfer from a server to a client through Internet or in local networks. Most web hosting service providers, such as GoDaddy, HostGator, Bluehost, A2 hosting, Hostinger, allow users to connect to their server with an FTP client. Some popular FTP clients include FileZilla, Transmit, WinSCP, Cyberduck, etc.

FTP can also be used for file sharing in local networks. For example, you can set up an FTP server on your computer or mobile phone, then access the local FTP server from another computer or mobile phone to download and upload files between them. That’s to say, a PC, Mac, or smartphone can act as an FTP server as well as an FTP client.

Create FTP server on computer

Both Windows and Mac OS come with the FTP support. You can create your own FTP server on a Windows PC or Mac computer without third-party software to share files with other devices and computers in your local network.

It is a little bit difficult to setup FTP server on Windows PC. On Mac though, this is a relatively straight forward process.

Click on the Apple icon from the top menu bar and choose System Preferences. Click Sharing. Then check the box next to Remote Login to enable SSH or SFTP on Mac. Choose whether to allow access to all users or only users you choose.

Create FTP server on Mac computer

Connect to FTP server from computer

On a computer, we can directly connect to an FTP server using Windows File Explorer or Mac Finder.

If you are on Mac, click on the Finder in the Dock. Choose the Go menu, then Connect to Server. Type in the full address of the FTP server including the prefix ftp:// and the port number, such as Press Connect. Type in FTP username and its password if requested.

Create an FTP Server on iPhone

Currently iPhone doesn’t come with built-in FTP support. We need to use third-party apps in order to turn our iPhone into an FTP server. In a related article, we used Owlfiles app to transfer files from iPhone to Android. This app can set our iPhone up as an FTP server so other phones or computers can connect to it to upload or download files.

Specific instructions to setup FTP server on iPhone can be found from previous linked page. And here are the quick steps you can follow:

Run Owlfiles file manager app on iPhone. Choose More tab from the bottom, then select Built-in Servers in the Toolbox section.

Owlfiles file manager toolbox built-in servers on iPhone

On this Built-in Servers screen, you have the options to tweak the FTP server and web or HTTP servers, start and stop the servers. Here we will leave the User Name and Password fields blank to enable anonymous access so other clients can directly connect to the FTP server without authentication. The FTP server port is set to 2121 by default. You can choose a different folder as server root directory from Path if need. Hit Start Servers button to enable the FTP server and get the server URL address.

Owlfiles file manager configure, start, stop built-in ftp, http, web servers on iPhone

Connect to an FTP Server from iPhone

Although the Files app on iPhone can connect to servers or external devices. It can’t help us connect to FTP / FTPS / SFTP from our iPhone or iPad. We wish Apple would upgrade this Files app on iOS device to be able to support FTP server setup and connection in future releases, like what they did to the Finder for Mac. Currently we need to use third-party FTP clients or apps for iPhone.

Method 1. Connecting to FTP Server with Owlfiles on iPhone

Again, the Owlfiles app, as mentioned above, serves perfectly as the free FTP client or app on iPhone. It supports both FTP and SFTP connections.

In the Owlfiles app for iPhone, choose Connections from the bottom, tap the Lightning button in the upper right to start creating connections with other devices or servers. Choose New Connection from the drop-down menu, then select a connection type from the New Connection screen. Here you can find various connection types such as Mac, Windows, Linux, NAS, Time Capsule, Redfish, External Location, WebDAV, FTP, SFTP, ownCloud & Nextcloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, etc.

Select FTP or SFTP, according to the server type, from the connection types screen. Input the Host Name/IP address of the FTP server. Double check the FTP port. 21 is the default FTP server port, it is 22 for SFTP server. Make sure to input the correct FTP server port number here based on your server configuration. Also if you have created FTP username other than anonymous login, you have to input Username and Password in the Connect As section. Finally tap the Save button to save the FTP connection.

Return to Owlfiles > Connections to select and access the FTP server.

Method 2. Connecting to FTP Server with Documents on iPhone

Documents by Readdle is another powerful file manager app that can be used as FTP and SFTP client for iPhone.

Run Documents app on iPhone, choose Settings > Clouds & Connections > Add Connection.

Documents Readdle add connection iphone

Choose FTP Server or SFTP Server, then follow on-screen tips to create connection to the FTP or SFTP server.

Documents Readdle add FTP server connection iphone

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