Troubleshooting FTP

Though it’s a great tool for moving data in bulk, File Transfer Protocol can be tricky. There are a ton of outliers that could result in that annoying “Login Failed” message, so knowing where to look can be half the battle. We’ve got a great outline & explanation for all-things-FTP here, so we definitely recommend giving that a read & sending that to the user. But in short, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the student using a default FTP account or an FTP account that was created manually?

  • If the user is working with the default account that is created automatically when they sign up, they should be connecting via SFTP.
  • Any manual accounts that the user created or someone created for them needed to be connected to via FTP-SSL.

2. Is the student using the proper SFTP/FTP settings?

If you’re not troubleshooting in person, the easiest way to verify this is by requesting that the user send you a screenshot of their settings, not the error they receive when they can’t connect. The user’s settings should look similar to this:


  • server/hostname: domain name
  • username & password: same as cPanel credentials (these were sent to the user in their account welcome email)
  • port: 22

3. Is the student using the proper credentials?

Once confirming that a connection is possible, we always send the user their credentials (regardless if they have them or not) in a one-time, secret link, and then request that they copy/paste them directly. (Sometimes the number 0 is mistaken for an uppercase O, for example.)

If you ever need to reset those credentials, go to WHMCS > User Profile > Product/Services Tab & generate a new password there:


4. Is an SFTP/FTP connection possible?

Before even responding to the user, we always test an FTP connection on our end with the student’s credentials to make sure that this is indeed a user error and not a system error. 9 times out of 10 it’s a local error, but it’s still a good rule of thumb to eliminate all possible issues.

5. How many times has the student attempted to log in?

If the user has too many failed login attempts within a certain period of time, they may trigger a block on the server. In these cases, we also check their IP on the firewall to make sure that it’s unblocked and/or whitelists. We normally ask the user to send us their IP address by going here:

We have a guide for administrators on unblocking IP addresses here.

Reclaim Hosting also has a separate firewall on some servers called BitNinja. If you’ve passed through all of the above steps and the student still can’t connect, send a support request to Reclaim with the student’s IP and we’ll make sure it’s whitelisted there as well.

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