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How to get FTP services done via Email.

How many hours did you spend on downloading important files ? How many times were you disconnected after downloading almost 90% ??. Did you ever think that you have a better alternative than downloading directly to your computer , waiting for hours (and pay very high Telephone Bill ) ???

Well for good, there is a service available in the net called "FTP mail". Basically what is does is to send your wanted files to your mail box. [ If you are a nerd, think that the files are sent to your POP mail box ]. As many of you have experienced, downloading email from your local server is lot faster than downloading from a foreign site. The other advantage is you don't have to wait until downloading is completed while praying for the GOD not to have the connection down. In the evening you can send a request to the "FTP mail" server and go home with a cool head. Next morning the files you have requested are waiting for you in your email in-box. [ Don't worry, their won't read your email :-) ]

We'll start the lesson by analyzing a generic email request.

Note: Following commands are typed in the body of the email. You may keep the 'Subject' line empty.

reply <your-email-address>

chunksize <maximum size of receiving email>

connect <any-anonymous-FTP-site>

[ ascii | binary ]

chdir <directory-in-which-files-you-wanted-contain>

get <filename>


Now let's try understand what does ever line mean.

Line 1: Tells the FTPmail server to which email address, the files should me sent. You can ask the FTPmail server to send your files to a different address.

Line 2: Specifies the maximum size of the email you receive. If your files are bigger than the specified size, they will be seperated to many letters. The best thing is to put 100000 here. This is the highest size allowed.

Line 3: Specify the FTP site in which your files are located

Line 4: If you are going to download only ascii files, type ascii otherwise type binary. If you are not sure the type of the files you download, always use binary

Line 5: Specifies the directory in which your files are located. [ Hope you guys & gals know the MS-DOS chdir command. :-) ]

Line 6: copy [ download] a file.

Line 7: Tells the FTPserver to stop processing your request here. This is useful if you add your signature to email.

Now some of you may ask "How do we know where the files are located ? ". The typical way is to use the service called ARCHIE. It searches for files in FTP sites. Easy way is to use the web interface to archie, named FAST FTP Search.

What ? You say it's not enough to explain commands, but you want to see an example too ?? Here you are then.


chunksize 100000



chdir /pub5/doc/RFC

get fyi-index.txt


Now it's time for you to try it your self. There are many FTPmail servers. Currently I use However FTPmail servers are not guaranteed to be active all the time. Thanks to Steve Harris, he is maintaining FTPmail server statistics where you can select a server that responds quickly.

Steve's FTPmail server statistics are located

Some of our readers may wonder how to combine a file which has been split into many letters. If you are working under UNIX, you can use the utility called uudecode (as I do ). If you are under MS-Windows, WinZip will do the job. Please note that files you requested were text only (ASCII), you don't need a tool to combine them, combining ASCII files is straightforward.

I have discussed here only a few commands to give you the taste of the FTPmail. To obtain a comprehensive help, send an email to the FTP mail server with the command help in the body. Good Luck !


Suranga Manage

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