Error uploading or downloading files in Dreamweaver

Error uploading or downloading files

When you try to upload (put) to or download (get) from your web server using Adobe Dreamweaver, the process fails with an error. The Background File Activity window may say "File activity incomplete," or you may encounter a different error indicating that the attempted action failed to complete successfully.

Solution 1: Verify that you can connect to your web server

If you are unable to successfully connect to your web server, then you will not be able to upload files to or download files from your server.

For most connection types, you can use Dreamweaver to test your connection. To do so, open your server's settings in the Dreamweaver Site Setup dialog box, and then click Test.

If Dreamweaver cannot successfully connect to your server, then it's likely that your server settings are missing or incorrect. See the Dreamweaver documentation to step through the site setup process and verify your settings. If you are using Dreamweaver CS4 or earlier, consult the Dreamweaver CS4 documentation.

Solution 2: Verify the root directory setting in Dreamweaver

For FTP, SFTP, and FTPS/FTPeS connections, you are able to specify a root directory for each server in the Site Setup dialog box. Most web servers require that you specify the root directory in order to upload or download files

The root directory is the folder path on the web server where your index (e.g. index.html, index.php, etc.) and other publicly available files and folders are stored. Generally, this path should be relative to the root of the web server (it should start with a forward slash). For example:

  • /wwwroot
  • /inetpub/wwwroot
  • /www/users/USERNAME/wwwroot
  • /public_html
  • /usr/home/USERNAME/public_html
  • /www/users/USERNAME/public_html

Sometimes, however, the root directory can be the actual domain name of the website. This is often the case for users who own their own domain names. For example, a site called might have a root directory of (with no forward slash at the start).

The exact name and location of the root directory varies from web hosting company to web hosting company. If you're having trouble determining what your root directory is, contact your web hosting company for help.

Solution 3: Move or delete any symbolic links from corresponding directories on your server  (Dreamweaver CS5.5 only) 

If you are using Dreamweaver CS5.5, then the reason for upload/download failure may be caused by the existence of a symbolic link (sometimes called a symlink or soft link) in the same folder to which you are trying to upload. Symbolic links are effectively shortcuts or aliases that point to a file existing in another location, but can be used as though the file exists in that location. Dreamweaver CS5.5 misinterprets these symbolic links as though they were directories, and because they cannot be properly enumerated, any attempt to upload or download files in the same directory as the symbolic link will fail.

You may be encountering this issue if the FTP Log in Dreamweaver shows an error similar to the following:
"An FTP error occurred – cannot put ‘/index.html’. Access Denied."

To identify a symbolic link, look in the Dreamweaver FTP Log (Window > Results > FTP Log) for a line that appears similar to the following:
 < lrwxr-xr-x   1 username  users           66 Jun 30 18:20 webformmailer.php -> /usr/www/stats/mailer.php

Two things show that this is a symbolic link. The first letter is an l (as in lrwxr-xr-x), which indicates that it is a symbolic link. The second is that the file name that would appear in the local or remote Files panel within Dreamweaver (in this case, webformmailer.php), is pointing to (->) a file in a different location (in this case, /usr/www/stats/mailer.php).

In the case of the above example, to resolve the issue, you would locate the symbolic link called webformmailer.php in the Dreamweaver Files panel, and then delete it. If you needed to use this file for some component of your website, you would then also copy the mailer.php file from its location in /usr/www/stats/ to the desired directory.

Solution 4: Use Passive FTP (FTP and FTPS/FTPeS only)

Some firewall or other security software on your computer may be preventing Dreamweaver from uploading or downloading files.

In most situations, you can configure your security software to allow network communication between Dreamweaver and your web server (both "in" and "out') and this will resolve the issue. This is a better and more recommended method for solving this issue.

If you're not familiar with configuring your security software, or as a quicker method for resolving the issue, enable Passive FTP in Dreamweaver. To do so, select Use Passive FTP in the Site Setup dialog box options. For Dreamweaver CS5 and later, this option appears under the Basic tab's More Options section (at the bottom of the window that appears after you select a server for editing).

See the Dreamweaver documentation to step through the site setup process and locate the Passive FTP option. (If you are using Dreamweaver CS4 or earlier, consult the Dreamweaver CS4 documentation.)

Solution 5: Use an alternate client

If you are able to connect to your server in Dreamweaver, but are unable to upload or download, then connect to your server using an alternate client and then try to upload or download the same file(s).

For example, if you connect to your server via FTP or FTPS/FTPeS, then use an FTP client like FileZilla or CyberDuck. If you are using SFTP, then use a client such as PSFTP (PuTTY). For WebDAV connections, try a client like DAV Explorer, Goliath, or CyberDuck.

If you are not successful when using an alternate client, contact your web hosting company, network administrator, or IT department for additional assistance. Your server may be experiencing temporary problems, your account may not be configured correctly, the access permission settings on your server may need to be changed, or there may be another problem that needs to be addressed with your server or your computer/network configuration.

Solution 6: Try additional Site settings options (FTP and FTPS/FTPeS only)

Some web servers are not compatible with the default settings in Dreamweaver. The best way to determine which settings to use is to check the documentation provided by your web hosting company, or contact them to inquire about these settings.

Alternatively, you can use a process of elimination to determine which settings are most compatible with your server. To do so, try the following:

  1. Open your server settings in the Site Setup dialog box. (See the Dreamweaver documentation to step through the user interface. If you are using Dreamweaver CS4 or earlier, consult the Dreamweaver CS4 documentation.)

  2. On the Basics tab of the server's editing mode, expand the More Options section at the bottom.
  3. Select or deselect one option listed. For example, deselect Use FTP Performance Optimization.

    NOTE: Use Proxy is a setting that is specific to your computer's network connection, and is not related to your web server. Only select Use Proxy if you normally need to use a proxy server to connect to the Internet, or to connect to certain types of network resources. Check with your network administrator or IT department if you are not sure if you need to use a proxy.


  4. Try to upload or download the same files again.
  5. Repeat these steps until you have resolved your issue, or until you have tried each combination of options.

Additional information

SFTP is also called FTP over SSH.

FTPS is also called FTP over SSL/TLS with Implicit Encryption.

FTPeS is also called FTP over SSL/TLS with Explicit Encryption.