Connecting to an SFTP Server with an FTP Client

Bitvise SSH Client comes with a graphical SFTP file transfer client, as well as a scriptable command-line SFTP client. However, there are times when one wishes to access an SFTP server with a program which does not support this protocol, but supports the legacy FTP protocol. In this case, protocol translation is required, and this can be done using Bitvise SSH Client as the intermediary program.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Bitvise SSH Client's FTP Bridge

The following instructions assume that the SFTP server you plan to be accessing is already set up, and that you have the username and password information necessary to log in with an SSH/SFTP client.

  1. Install Bitvise SSH Client on the client - the machine on which the FTP client program resides and from which you wish to access the SFTP server.
  2. Configure the following settings on the Login tab of the SSH Client. Click also the Help link on the Login tab for help with any of these settings.
    1. Host: The IP address or DNS name of the SFTP server that you are accessing.
    2. Port: The port number that the SSH/SFTP server is listening on. This will usually be the default SSH port number (22).
    3. Username: The username with which to log into the SFTP server.
    4. Password: The password with which to log into the SFTP server, belonging to the account name specified by Username.
    5. Store encrypted password in profile: You may optionally wish to enable this setting so that you will not be asked to reenter the password each time when logging in after Bitvise SSH Client has been restarted.
  3. On the Services tab of the SSH Client, make sure that the Enabled check box is checked in the FTP-to-SFTP Bridge section. The default values for the other FTP Bridge settings will usually work correctly. Click the Help link on the Services tab for help with any of the more specific FTP Bridge settings.
  4. Click Log in. You should get a series of informational messages, and one of the last ones should say "Enabled FTP-to-SFTP bridge on ...".
  5. Use the FTP client to connect to localhost using the FTP protocol. The SSH session needs to be established with the FTP Bridge component active when you do this. The FTP client can be configured with any username and password - these will be ignored because authentication has already been performed on the level of the SSH session.

If all is well, after conducting these steps you are now accessing the SFTP server with your FTP client, using Bitvise SSH Client to translate from FTP to SFTP and vice versa.


If you encounter problems establishing the SSH session, you will receive diagnostic information in the SSH Client log area, as well as in the log entries recorded by the SSH/SFTP server. Especially in the case of an SSH-level authentication failure, the SSH server log entries will contain important diagnostic information. It is necessary to inspect the SSH server log entries in this case.

Depending on your setup, you may encounter the following situations specific to the FTP Bridge component:

  • Problem: SSH connection fails with Bitvise SSH Client logging an error message including the content: "Failed to enable FTP-to-SFTP bridge on ...: Address is already in use; ..."

    Cause: Another program on the client machine is already listening on a conflicting listening address and the same port.

    Solution: Remove the conflict. This can be done either by removing the other program (most likely an FTP server on the client machine), or by changing the Listen Port value in the FTP-to-SFTP Bridge settings in the SSH Client. This can be set to an arbitrary value, as long as the value you set is reflected in your instructions to the FTP client.

If you are having trouble resolving a problem, see our contact and support page for more information and links to documents about how to go about resolving problems with Bitvise SSH Client and Server.