I have large directory with lots of files and directories on a remote Windows system where I only have FTP access.

I had to do some modifications in some of the files, so I downloaded the whole directory to run a find and replace command in files recursively.

Using Git locally, I was able to get the list of modified files. (Their is no Git on the Windows system, so I can't push/pull. Besides, I only have FTP access.)

Now I need to update the files on the Windows system. Uploading file by file manually can be frustrating as there are a lot of modified files.
Some of the files are located in subdirectories and sub-subdirectories.

For example this structure (There are a lot more files):

 |--- file1
 |--- file2
 |--- dir1
 |     |--- file1.1
 |     |--- dir1.1
 |           |---- file1.1.1
 |--- dir2
       |--- file2.1
       |--- file2.2
       |--- file2.3

How can I copy them (or moving them is even fine) to a new location, while preserving their directory structure.
This way, in my FTP client, I would just move the whole folder. It will manage the directory structure by itself.

Keep in mind, that the subdirectories have other unmodified files in them, which I do not want to be copied.

Git gave me this list, so it did half the work:

  • Will rsync work? I'm not sure if it works over FTP, though. You could also parse the Git output and copy those files into a folder, then move that folder into your FTP location.
    – kiri
    Oct 16, 2013 at 11:39
  • @minerz029 I'm not sure it works with FTP, even if it does, I believe FTP will be really slow for such a task
    – Dan
    Oct 16, 2013 at 12:11

3 Answers 3


Interesting problem. I searched a bit, so here is another approach. When you have a file list and very much files to upload. Use wput.

apt-get install wput

cat /you/large/file/list | wput ftp:/host/ -i -

I would recommend to turn on verbose output with -v

From the man page:

-i file
           Reads URLs and filenames from file. ...

You can also use find to pipe filenames into wput.

find | wput ftp://host/ -i -

But, take care of shell escaped characters in your list.

  • Perfect, in my case I already have the file. So I'd just do this: wput ftp://host/ -i foo.log
    – Dan
    Oct 16, 2013 at 13:08

Why don't you use curlftpfs? I think that would be simpler that uploading and downloading a whole directory structure.

sudo apt-get install curlftpfs

Mount a remote ftp filesystem:

curlftpfs -v user:[email protected]/path/ /mnt/

Then edit or modify whatever you have to, and unmount the fs. But notice, the filesystem is very slow.

Edit: If your password has special characters like "@" use a file called ~/.netrc with the following format:

machine ftp-server.com
login user
password p@ssword

And mount the fs via:

curlftpfs -v ftp-server.com/path/ /mnt/
  • cool, didn't know about this. This can be helpful, but in this case the "search and replace" will take forever. There are over 9k items in the directory. (Around 1k files were replaced)
    – Dan
    Oct 16, 2013 at 12:14
  • That's a lot, look at my other answer.
    – chaos
    Oct 16, 2013 at 12:52

This is what I ended up doing, although if there is a better way please do add as answer:

I saved the list of files in a file foo.log

and ran the following command:

tar -zcf bar.tar.gz --files-from foo.log

When archiving with tar, it keeps the directory structure intact of the files being added.

I then unarchived the bar.tar.gz file in an empty directory:

mkdir tempdir
tar -zcf bar.tar.gz -C tempdir
# Delete the archive
rm bar.tar.gz

Now all my modified files got copied inside of tempdir

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