iPhone FTP server & transfer

FTP is usually used to transfer files between a computer and remote server. Web masters use FTP clients on their computer to connect to web servers to publish website stuff, upload and download files. You can also configure your computer as a FTP server and use other devices or clients to connect to your computer FTP server. Today, even smartphones borrowed this idea. Xiaomi is a good example, we can find the FTP transfer feature in its stock file manager app.

In this article, we will demonstrate how to setup FTP server on iPhone and transfer files between iPhone and computer, iPhone and Android using FE File Explorer Pro. Note that this file explorer comes with both free and paid editions. FTP transfer or Wi-Fi transfer feature is only available with the Pro edition.

Part 1. Setup FTP server on iPhone

Connect your iPhone to WiFi. Get the file explorer app for iOS on to your iPhone. Launch the iPhone file explorer app, tap Local from its home screen, you can then find a Wi-Fi signal icon at the bottom, touch the Wi-Fi button to start FTP server. Your FTP server IP address and FTP port will be provided. From its home screen, tap on Settings (small gear) at the bottom, then choose Built-in Servers from the General section on the Settings screen. See below screenshot.

fe file explorer settings built-in servers iphone

On this Settings screen, you can set username, password, FTP port, HTTP port and server path. Tap on Start Servers to start both FTP server and HTTP web server at the same time. The server addresses will be listed. See below screenshot.

fe file explorer ftp and web servers settings on iphone

Note that the FTP server IP address is actually your iPhone IP address. You can find it from the File Explorer app on iPhone as shown above.

Part 2. Transfer files between iPhone and computer via FTP or HTTP

Now you have configured your iPhone as the FTP server. You need a FTP client on your computer to access the iPhone FTP server for file transfer between them. You can use FTP clients, such as FileZilla, CuteFTP, FlashFXP, to connect your iPhone.

Mac users can connect to FTP server from Finder without the need for any extra software. Finder on Mac has the Connect to Server feature allowing users to connect to FTP severs directly.

The recent Windows OS also provides the native support to FTP connection in the stock File Explorer. To connect the FTP server on iPhone from Windows PC, run the File Explorer, type ftp://youriphoneIP:2121 in the address bar and press Enter on your keyboard to access the FTP server on iPhone. You can then copy files from Windows computer to iPhone or vice versa using the File Explorer for Windows, just like you copy files between different hard drives on your local machine.

Other than that, you can simply launch your desktop web browser to access the web server on your iPhone to upload or download files between your iPhone, iPad and Mac or PC wirelessly.

Part 3. Transfer files between iPhone and Android via HTTP or FTP

You can simply launch your mobile browser on Android to access the web server on your iPhone to upload or download files between them over Wi-Fi.

Is it possible to connect iPhone and Android via FTP? Some Android phones have the built-in FTP connection support. Notably the Samsung galaxy phones.

If your mobile phone does not support FTP natively, you need to download a third-party FTP client app from Google Play Store. FE file explorer also has the Android version you may consider. It is powerful and easy-to-use. Best of all, it is free.

Update Dec 2020: this article was originally published in Mar 2018 and has since been updated. In this update, screenshots and instructions were added to reflect the change of the built-in HTTP and FTP servers in FE File Explorer app.

14 thoughts on “iPhone FTP server & transfer”

  1. so great info here – looks like i might finally be able to get my photos off of the iphone with ftp with the FE File Explorer and FileZilla. So I get this all set up and it works – I can see file directories on my iPhone — but they are all empty. It seems like i have to change folder permissions on the iPhone to be able to get my photos downloaded to my windows10 computer. I see no way to do this – is there something I’m missing here??

    1. the FE File Explorer can’t access your Camera Roll or Photos app. you have to copy photos to the folder which the file explorer app has access to first. from the second screenshot in the above post, you can see the Path entry above the Web Server URL and FTP Server URL. the Path is the root directory this file explorer can access. you can choose it to other directory/folder you like. Then copy photos and any other files you like to download to PC to this folder.

  2. I can’t see any files when accessing my iPhone. I want to copy photos to my computer. I can see them via the iPhone but not via FTP access from the computer.

    1. Go to FE File Explorer > My Files, you should be able to access all these files and folders beneath from you computer. If the files you want to transfer can not be found in the My Files section, you can open the stock Files app on iPhone, to copy those files to one of the folders which you can find from FE File Explorer > My Files. You can also share files from other apps to FE File Explorer.
      do you use a FTP client on the computer to access the FTP server on iPhone? what kind of files, formats can’t be accessed from computer?

  3. Andrea Haresign

    “are you using its free version? this file explorer app comes with both free and paid editions. this wifi transfer feature is only available with its pro edition.” So in other words .. not really free at all?

  4. There is a problem in my case : the FTP access is only in read-only mode, so I could not send files to the iPad.

    1. are you using its free version? this file explorer app comes with both free and paid editions. this wifi transfer feature is only available with its pro edition. * Its in free version too. thanks @NICK for the information.

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