ARCHIVED: What is anonymous FTP?
Some universities, government agencies, companies, and private
individuals have set up public archives that you may access via
FTP, usually in a directory named
sites contain programs, data files, and informational text. You can
often find specific directions or information about the site in
greeting messages or files with names like
You can use an FTP client such as WinSCP for Windows or Cyberduck for
Macintosh to connect to an anonymous FTP site, or you can use FTP from
the command line in Windows, Mac OS X, or Unix.
For more information, including specific commands and more detailed
instructions, see What is FTP, and how do I use it to transfer files? Typically you will need to use
anonymous and an arbitrary password. Most
sites will ask you to enter your email address as the password. If
your login is successful, you can browse the public directories on the
You can also access anonymous FTP sites in your web browser. For example, to connect to the Usenet FAQs maintained at MIT, visit:ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/
Anonymous FTP is a privilege granted by the organization that owns the computer to which you are connecting; be considerate in your usage. Don't transfer files you don't need or an excessive amount of material, and try to restrict your transfers to off-peak hours. Some FTP sites are used very heavily, and you may need patience to connect.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.