File Transport Protocol (FTP) is the most commonly used method for transferring files over the Internet. Many organizations and individuals use FTP to upload and download files to their web server. To transfer via FTP in Dreamweaver, enter your FTP server information in the Remote Info category of the Site Definition dialog box. In the Files panel, click the Connect and Put buttons to upload selected files or folders.

There are many variables involved when troubleshooting FTP issues, so the list of tips and techniques is long. Following are the top five things to try:

  • Verify that you have the latest updater for Dreamweaver.
  • Try enabling passive FTP.
  • Try connecting to your server with different FTP clients.
  • Try modifying the Host Directory settings in the site definition.
  • Check permissions on the server.

Initial steps and fact gathering

1. Install the latest updater for Dreamweaver

When Adobe releases updaters for Dreamweaver, the updaters usually fix some FTP issues. Download and install the latest updater for your version of Dreamweaver. For Dreamweaver MX 2004, the latest updater is 7.0.1. For Dreamweaver MX, the latest updater is 6.1.

Note: You can check your version of Dreamweaver as follows:

  • Windows: Chose Help > About Dreamweaver  and then click the credits when they start to scroll.
  • Mac OS Choose Dreamweaver > About Dreamweaver and then click the credits when they start to scroll.

2. Make sure that a site has been defined

To use FTP, Dreamweaver needs to know the FTP connection information. So, create a site definition or set up siteless file editing. Dreamweaver requires one of these two to know how to connect to the server. Starting with Dreamweaver MX 2004, you can connect directly to an FTP server without a formal site definition (siteless file editing). However, a site definition provides more functionality within Dreamweaver. Most Dreamweaver users prefer to take advantage of the site definition's additional functionality. To learn more about site definitions, see the Dreamweaver online Help for information about setting up a site.

3. Use a different option for connecting to the server?

The two most common alternatives to FTP are Local/Network and Secure FTP. Using either of these alternatives can provide better performance and stability than FTP. You can also take advantage of some of the other less commonly used remote connection options in Dreamweaver: WebDAV, Visual SourceSafe, or RDS. See Help > Using Dreamweaver for more information on these options.

  • Local/Network
    Try using Local/Network to transfer files. If you're in an environment like an office or a school you often have permission to connect to to the server through the Windows or Mac OS file system browsers. In Windows, a network path would look something like \\myserver\myfolder\.
  • Secure FTP
    Secure FTP (SFTP) enables you to encrypt all file transfers and prevent unauthorized access to your data, files, user names and passwords. Secure FTP is a different protocol than FTP.  However, they share similar commands and settings. If you are not sure if your server is running SFTP, check with your server administrator. SFTP in general is a more robust protocol, so it may succeed where traditional FTP failings. The SFTP service is included by default on most UNIX servers. On Windows, SFTP is not a built-in service and requires additional software. Even though SFTP is a separate, set up an FTP-like site definition in Dreamweaver and then select the check box for Use Secure FTP. It's possible for a server to run both FTP and SFTP services at the same time. If your server is only running SFTP, select the Use Secure FTP check box. Otherwise Dreamweaver returns an error.

4. Document the exact problem

Once you have determined that the Dreamweaver updater does not solve the problem and you're using an FTP, then troubleshoot the problem. Write down the exact text of any error messages you are seeing.

  • Do you get an error message when clicking the Test button in the Site Definition dialog box?
  • Do you get an error message when clicking the Connect icon in the Files panel?
  • Do you get an error message when trying to upload a file or a folder?
  • Did your FTP site definition ever work in Dreamweaver?
  • Does the problem happen every time or is it random?
  • If you are working in a group environment, do other computers have the same problem?
  • What specific FTP server are you connecting to? Examples of specific servers include: Microsoft IIS server, RedHat FTP server, IBM AIX server and Mac OS X Server. Oftentimes, you can get this information from the Dreamweaver FTP log or by connecting via a command-line FTP client.

5. Determine whether your FTP site definition ever worked correctly in Dreamweaver

Two frequent causes for connection failures are a server that is down or is busy. The diagram below illustrates the major relay points data goes through to complete an FTP transfer:

Major relay points data goes through to complete an FTP transfer
Major relay points data goes through to complete an FTP transfer

If you have been able to connect at least once, then it's likely that your FTP settings are correct. When the same settings connect only part of the time, the reason is usually a server is down or is busy. Try connecting at a different time of day, and contact the system administrator for the company hosting your site. If you're receiving an "Internal Data Error" message when trying to connect in Dreamweaver, it's likely that the server is down. A good way to determine if the server is down is to see if you can connect with a different FTP client. If no client can connect, then there's probably something wrong with the server.

6. Determine whether other FTP clients function correctly with the server

When troubleshooting FTP problems, the number of factors involved makes it important to narrow down the source of the issue. One good test is to connect and transfer with another FTP client. If you experience problems with multiple FTP clients, then it's most likely a server issue, and not a Dreamweaver issue. There are some FTP clients included with the Windows and Mac OS, and there are other FTP clients that are free or shareware. Here are some commonly used clients:


  • Microsoft's Internet Explorer - Type the ftp server name in the URL field and add ftp:// before the domain name (e.g.
  • WS_FTP - GUI-based
  • CuteFTP - GUI-based
  • FileZilla - GUI-based
  • Windows command line (Start > Run > in the Open field, type cmd) - see Using FTP command-line tools.

Mac OS

  • Safari / Mac Finder - Type the ftp server name in the URL field and add ftp:// before the domain name (e.g., or in the Mac Finder, select Go> Connect to Server.
  • Fetch - GUI-based

7. Check if the problem exists with a different version of Dreamweaver or Contribute

If you have a prior version of Dreamweaver or Contribute that works with your FTP server, then it's possible you're encountering a product error with Dreamweaver. If you are using the same FTP settings in two different versions of Dreamweaver, then the FTP connection should behave the same. If you do not have FTP problems using Dreamweaver MX, but you do have problems using Dreamweaver MX 2004, try the Server Compatibility settings. The FTP engine was extensively reworked in Dreamweaver MX 2004. It is much more stable and reliable than earlier Dreamweaver FTP engines. However, there have been some reports where functionality broke in the newer version. Either contact technical support or submit a bug report directly.

Try connecting with Contribute. If you do not have Contribute, download the trial version and see if it works with your server. Dreamweaver and Contribute share the same underlying FTP engine, but Dreamweaver and Contribute are on different release cycles, so Contribute may have a bug fix that Dreamweaver does not have yet. If Contribute can connect, this is a good clue for technical support staff.

8. Can anyone in your group get Dreamweaver FTP to work with the server?

If you are working in a group environment, do other computers in your group have the same problem? This will help you determine if the problem is specific to your machine or your Dreamweaver settings, or if there's a firewall conflict or something else common to the group. Examples of other things that may be common among computers in a group include:

  • A customized operating system ghost image installed by your organization
  • A team may all have a conflicting Dreamweaver extension installed

If you have a laptop, can you connect to the FTP server with this machine when you are at home versus in the office? If you can connect at home, that may indicate some kind of firewall or network issue in the office.

9. Can you connect to any FTP server from Dreamweaver?

In rare instances, Dreamweaver users cannot connect to any FTP server. This indicates a general issue with Dreamweaver connectivity to the Internet. Other symptoms of this problem include a non-functioning Dreamweaver Start Page, and problems activating Dreamweaver over the Internet. See if you can connect to an anonymous FTP server, like the IRS FTP site. To connect to this site in Dreamweaver, use the following site definition settings:

FTP host:
Host directory: leave it blank
Username: anonymous
Password: leave it blank

If you cannot connect to this server, investigate whether a firewall is preventing Dreamweaver from accessing the Internet, and verify that your machine has Internet connectivity in general.


10. Are you behind a firewall?

If you are in a group environment, ask your system administrator what kind of firewall is being used and if any special adjustments need to be made to let applications like Dreamweaver get past the firewall.

If you have a personal firewall installed on your machine, verify that Dreamweaver has permission to access the Internet. Windows XP SP2 has a built-in firewall that blocks Dreamweaver's FTP functionality by default, so you need to add Dreamweaver to the exceptions list. Other examples of personal firewalls include Zone Alarm and Norton Personal Firewall.

Dreamweaver user interface settings

FTP problems can be difficult to diagnose as there are so many factors involved. That said, Dreamweaver does not have an overly complex user interface related to FTP. For reference, here are the two places where FTP settings are located within Dreamweaver:

  1. Site-specific settings are located in the Remote Info category of each Site Definition (Site > Manage Sites > select your site > click Edit button > choose Remote Info category):

    Site-specific settings are in Remote Info
    Site-specific settings are in Remote Info

  2. General FTP settings that apply to all your Dreamweaver Site Definitions are located in Edit > Preferences > Sites:

    General FTP settings are in the Site category
    General FTP settings are in the Site category

Dreamweaver user interface settings

1. Try using passive FTP

One of most common solutions to FTP problems is to select the Use Passive FTP check box. A common sign that you need to use passive FTP is that Dreamweaver seems to hang when trying to connect to your server. Select this check box if your firewall configuration requires use of passive FTP. Passive FTP enables your local software to set up the FTP connection rather than requesting the remote server to set it up. For more information, see What is Passive FTP?.

Note: Mac OS X users should enable passive FTP if they are unable to see the file listing on the remote server.

2. Experiment with Server Compatibility options in the Site Definition dialog box (Dreamweaver MX 2004 v7.0.1 only)

If you are having trouble connecting with Dreamweaver MX 2004 version 7.0.1, try adjusting the Server Compatibility settings. Note that these settings do not exist in Dreamweaver MX 2004 version 7.0 or lower. You can check the version by choosing Help > About Dreamweaver and clicking the scrolling credits.

Server Compatibility settings
Server Compatibility settings

Try the different combinations of selected and deselected options for Use FTP performance optimization and Use alternative FTP move method, to see if any combination resolves the FTP issue. These settings are particularly helpful for users that did not have FTP problems with earlier versions of Dreamweaver, but do have problems with Dreamweaver MX 2004.

3. Verify FTP host information

Your FTP host is the full Internet name of a computer system, such as In the FTP Host field, make sure not to add the ftp:// protocol in front of the host name. Also, try using the IP address (e.g. instead of the domain name ( if you are having trouble connecting to your server.

4. Change the Host Directory information

Web server information, such as the login and password, are obtained from the server administrator and entered into the Site Definition dialog box exactly as given, but sometimes you need to modify the Host Directory information. Try the following approaches to entering Host Directory information when troubleshooting. The approach that works depends on the server's setup, so try them all:

  • Add a forward slash (/) directly before the Host Directory name, without any spaces (e.g./myfolder).
  • If you already had a slash entered before the Host Directory name, remove it (e.g. myfolder).
  • Leave the Host Directory blank.
  • Leave the Host Directory blank and append the Host Directory name to the FTP host, preceded by a slash (
  • Try adding one of your subfolders to the Host Directory path (e.g. myfolder/mysubfolder/).
  • If you are working on a personal website on a UNIX server, your URL may include a tilde. For example, If you are having FTP trouble with the tilde in the Host Directory, try using the full path, which may look something like/home/username/public_html or/home/username/www. The same is true if your server is using virtual paths. Ask your server administrator if they are using virtual paths and if they can give you the physical path. Try using the physical path in the Host Directory field.
  • If your web folder on the remote server is above the root, you may have to precede the Host Directory name with ../ or even ../../ (one set of double dots takes you up one level, two sets take you up two levels, etc.). This type of setup is uncommon.

One good method of troubleshooting Host Directory issues is to try to drag-and-drop a file in the Files panel, instead of using the Put button or synchronizing. See Dragging and dropping files below for more information.

5. Disable Upload Design Notes in Site Definition

Sometimes having the Upload Design Notes option selected in the site definition can cause problems. Deselect this option and see if the problem persists: Site > Manage Sites, select your site, then click Edit > Advanced tab > Design Notes category and deselect Upload Design Notes for sharing.

6. Change the site preference options

In most cases, users do not need to change the default site preference options. However, when troubleshooting problems with transferring large files, 530 and/or 550 errors, or loss of connection, trying other Preference settings is useful. To access the Preferences dialog box, choose Edit > Preferences> select Site from the Category column.

The settings relevant to FTP in the site preferences dialog box are:

  • FTP connection: ___ and Disconnect After ___ Minutes Idle
    When troubleshooting, leave this option deselected.
  • FTP time out
    When an FTP command is sent to the server, the client expects a confirmation message back, or the command is cancelled. FTP Time Out establishes how long Dreamweaver waits for a response from the server before giving up on a command. Too high a setting causes Dreamweaver to idle and seem frozen if the server doesn't respond. Too low a setting causes commands to abort prematurely. The default setting, 60 seconds, handles most situations properly. If you're having problems connecting, try increasing the FTP Time Out to 120 seconds.
  • Firewall Host and Port
    Most users do not need to modify these fields -- leave the host blank and the port set to 21. If you believe your organization is using a firewall, you will need to get this information from your system administrator.

Once again, most of the time, you do not need to change the defaults in site preferences.

7. Create a new site definition and transfer new files

A useful troubleshooting step is to create a new Dreamweaver site definition, and work with a new file in the new site definition. Set up the Local Root Folder for the site definition to be the root of your hard disk (e.g. C:\). Doing so ensures that there are no spaces or special characters in the path to the local root folder. It also tests for a corrupt site definition or files. When following the steps above, Mac users may also want to trash their Dreamweaver Preferences file and make sure the name of their hard disk contains no special characters.

8. Re-create the site cache

If a new file works in a new site, try re-creating the Dreamweaver site cache in the old site and see if the problem persists: Site > Advanced > Recreate Site Cache. This step is only available if the site was defined to use a site cache.

9. Drag and drop files in the Files panel

When you select a file and click the Put button in the Files panel, Dreamweaver uploads the file to the folder on the FTP server.

Dragging and dropping a file can be used to troubleshoot in two cases:

  • When a file is not transferring or is uploading to the wrong folder, dragging a file from the local side of the Files panel to the remote side allows you to choose the folder and may help narrow down whether the Host Directory information is entered correctly.
  • When you are unable to connect to the server, leave the Host Directory field blank and drag the file over instead of using the Put button.

Note: Care must be exercised when dragging and dropping. Dropping a file in the wrong directory will cause links to stop working and prevent images on the page from displaying.


10. Check the FTP Log

After trying to connect or upload, you can check Dreamweaver's FTP log for a record of the session between your computer and the server. Of special note would be any three-digit FTP series code. Please see Check the FTP log for an explanation of the FTP log and a list of FTP series codes. Also note the specific FTP service name and version to which you are attempting to connect.

To view Dreamweaver's FTP log: Choose Site > Advanced> FTP Log.

Note that a completely blank log is a clue in itself. If the log is blank after trying to connect, Dreamweaver's FTP tool is not able to reach the server and cannot send commands to it.

Server issues

1. Check file and folder names

The following general information about file-naming conventions is useful when troubleshooting problems with transferring particular files or folders:

  • Special characters
    Make sure that folder or file names do not contain spaces or special characters. Special characters include ? * - & ^ % $ # or any non-alphanumeric character. The underscore character ( _ ) is not considered a special character and is valid in file or folder names.

    Note: Mac users should also check for spaces or special characters in the hard drive name.

    Depending upon the operating system, name length can be a problem when transferring files or folders. When encountering a problem transferring, try uploading a file or folder with a short name, like test.htm.

    Finally, the Files panel does not show files on the server whose names start with a period or an underscore. This is done intentionally. If you need to see those files, use a different FTP client.
  • Uppercase and lowercase
    Windows and Mac file names are not case-sensitive, but UNIX file names are.

    Windows and UNIX systems handle the transfer of files as follows:
    • Local machine Rename a file locally from example.htm to EXAMPLE.HTM, and you still have only one file, whose name has been changed to uppercase. The reverse, uppercase to lowercase, is also true.
    • UNIX server Upload a file named EXAMPLE.HTM to a folder on a UNIX server that already contains a file named example.htm, and the file on the server is not overwritten. You will have two files: example.htm and EXAMPLE.HTM. This is true of lowercase to uppercase, or vice versa.
    • Windows server Upload a file named EXAMPLE.HTM to a folder on a Windows server that contains a file named example.htm, and the file on the server will be overwritten with the new one so that you have only one file, named EXAMPLE.HTM. This is true of lowercase to uppercase, or vice versa.

      Note: Some UNIX servers are set to convert the names of all uploaded files to lowercase.

2. Check server permissions

A server is a computer that many users share. In order to prevent people from interfering with each other's files, different read, write, and execute permissions are given to every user or group of users for different files and folders. A user or group can also be defined to be the owner of a file, which affects permissions. In addition, different permissions can be set for files or folders.

One possible reason for "access denied" errors (550 errors) is an insufficient set of permissions for your account. Contact the system administrator for the company hosting your site for more information. If you are connecting to a UNIX-based server, you can connect to it with a command-line FTP client and run an "ls -l" command to see the permission settings. If you are connecting to a Windows FTP server, you will need to have the server administrator check the permissions for you.

Some FTP servers are set up to give new files certain permissions by default and some Dreamweaver users will need something other than the default settings. If you notice that the files you are uploading have incorrect server permissions, you can install the Set Permissions extension for Dreamweaver.

3. Use FTP command-line tools

If you are comfortable with a command-line interface, you can enter FTP commands directly into the Windows command prompt or Mac Terminal. Command-line FTP clients give you greater control and visibility as to what exactly is happening with an FTP connection. Upon connecting via command line, it will oftentimes give you the name of the specific FTP server running. A list of standard FTP commands that a server will accept can be obtained by typing help in the FTP command line. See Checking the FTP log for a description of standard commands.

4. "Cannot determine the remote server time" error

Sometimes, when setting up a site definition, Dreamweaver may throw the following warning message:

Dreamweaver cannot determine the remote server time. The Select Newer and Synchronize commands will not be available.

To get the server's time stamp, Dreamweaver creates and deletes a folder named XYIZNWSK. There may be server permissions problems that don't allow Dreamweaver to create or delete folders.

Serv-U FTP Servers can be set to rewrite all files and folders; including the XYIZNWSK timestamp folder ; to lowercase, which means Dreamweaver can no longer find that particular folder. Unable to find that folder, Dreamweaver refuses to synchronize. Please see this article describing how to change this setting.

5. Are you using a proxy server that requires a separate login?

Dreamweaver supports some FTP proxy servers, but as shown in the Site Preferences dialog box, Dreamweaver does not support proxy servers that require their own set of username and password. The Dreamweaver user interface only has fields for entering the FTP server login information. An example of a proxy server that Dreamweaver does not support is SOCKS.

6. Specific FTP server issues

  • Macromedia has created a Dreamweaver MX 2004 extension for both Windows and Mac that resolves some FTP conflicts with IBM AIX and OS/400 servers. You should only install this extension if you are connecting to an IBM AIX or OS/400 server. Symptoms of the problem include:
    • Access Denied errors when attempting to access files or folders older than the current calendar year.
    • "Dreamweaver cannot determine the remote server time" errors and the Synchronize function not working.
    • Incorrect information in the Files panel, like extra spaces, junk characters, wrong kind of information in a particular field, etc. (Ref. 169317).
  • Dreamweaver MX 2004 has conflicts connecting to older versions of Documentum FTP Services. Documentum FTP Services version 5.2.5 and later have resolved this problem. (Ref. 183536)
  • Dreamweaver had problems transferring files to Mac OS X Server v10.2 and v10.1. Apple has resolved this issue with Mac OS X Server v10.3. (Ref. 16762).

7. Contribute FTP Server Checker

The Macromedia Contribute FTP Server Checker is a useful diagnostic tool for Dreamweaver MX 2004 users as well, because the two applications share very similar FTP engines. The FTP Server checker enables users to diagnose some problems when a connection cannot be established in Contribute using FTP. The application checks the compatibility between the FTP server and Contribute, then generates a report to help identify issues between the server and Contribute. To get more information and download the application, please see FTP Server Checker (TechNote tn_19012). You do not need to have Contribute installed to use this tool.

8. Contribute Network I/O logging

Dreamweaver MX 2004 users can install Contribute 3 and utilize its Network I/O logging feature, which allows Contribute to generate log files. These log files include detailed information about Contribute performance. You need to have Contribute 3 installed on your machine in order to generate these logs. A free trial version of Contribute is available for download.

Note: Network I/O logging will not benefit users of Dreamweaver MX and below. The FTP engine changed significantly in Dreamweaver MX 2004 and Contribute 3.


General troubleshooting

Verify home router is not causing problem

If you are using Dreamweaver at home or in a small office environment, there may be a conflict between Dreamweaver and your router (if you are using one). As a test, bypass the router by plugging the network cable from your DSL/cable modem directly into your computer, so the router is removed from the equation.

Go through general Windows or Mac troubleshooting steps

If you have determined that the FTP problem is specific to your machine or if you only have one machine to test with, then you may want to pursue some general Windows or Mac troubleshooting steps. This is an especially good idea if you are experiencing problems with other Dreamweaver features besides FTP. Here are some general things to try:

  • Try running Dreamweaver with a different Windows or Mac user account.
  • Have Dreamweaver re-create your user configuration folder.
  • Uninstall Dreamweaver and reinstall in Safe Mode.

For more general troubleshooting tips, see the following TechNotes:

Contact Technical Support and provide FTP connection information

If you have determined that the problem you are experiencing is a problem with Dreamweaver, then we would like to hear about it. An example of a problem would be settings that worked fine in Dreamweaver MX, but that do not work in Dreamweaver MX 2004. You can submit a bug report using our Feature Request/Bug Report Form. Or, if you have purchased Dreamweaver, you can also contact Technical Support, and see if a support agent can reproduce your problem.

Macromedia is best able to troubleshoot issues when we can connect to the problematic server. If you can provide us with a temporary user account or password, or a test server, that is best. The engineers cannot debug servers behind firewalls.

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