How to Find and Replace Old FTP Links

FTP, short for File Transfer Protocol, is an old standard for transferring files from one computer to another. The protocol was first proposed in 1971, long before the advent of the modern TCP/IP-based internet. In spite of its age, FTP is still commonly used, and hundreds of thousands of websites link to files stored on FTP servers (using URLs that start with ftp://).

Until recently, that wasn’t an issue. All major browsers had built-in support for FTP and were able to handle ftp:// links. This situation is changing. The developers of Chrome disabled FTP in version 88 (released on January 19, 2021), and it’s likely that other browsers will follow suit.

The rationale behind this decision is that FTP in its original form is an insecure protocol that doesn’t support encryption. This is understandable, but practically, it breaks existing ftp:// links for the majority of users.

If you want to make sure that your website is free of ftp:// links, follow the steps below.

1. Start a check at drlinkcheck.com

Go to https://www.drlinkcheck.com/, enter the URL of your website, and press the Start Check button.

Start Link Checker

2. Wait for the crawl to complete

Wait until the check is complete and the website is fully crawled. The number of found ftp:// links is displayed in the Link Schemes section. If there are no ftp: items in the list, the crawler didn’t locate any ftp:// links on your site and you are all good and can skip the rest of the post.

Number of ftp:// links

3. Access the list of FTP links

Click the ftp: item under Link Schemes to get to the list of ftp:// links and review each item in the list. If you hover over a link and hit the Details button, you can see which pages contain the link (under Linked from). A click on Source will show you the exact location in the HTML source code.

FTP link report

4. Replace or remove FTP links on your website

Now it’s time to decide what to do with the found links. Here are a few options:

  • Try replacing “ftp” with “https” or “http” in the URL. Many websites serve the same files via both FTP and HTTP(S).
  • Enclose the filename in quotes ("example-file-20200830.pdf") and enter it in Google. You may find an alternative https:// URL you can link to.
  • Use an FTP client (like WinSCP or Cyberduck) to download the file from the FTP server and re-upload it to your web server. This is only a valid option if you have permission to share the file publicly.
  • Add a note to the page that explains how to download the file using a dedicated FTP client.
  • Simply remove the link or even the entire page if it’s outdated and no longer relevant.

Wrapping it up

Forty years after its introduction, FTP is slowly being phased out as a protocol for serving files on the internet. With major browsers dropping support for FTP, now is a good time to clean up your website and get rid of all FTP links. You surely don’t want your website to appear outdated and broken.


Älterer Post