Troubleshooting SFTP

Occasionally, you may come across some issues with SFTP. This article should help you understand common SFTP issues and how to address them.

Trouble Connecting to SFTP

The first step here is to be sure to follow the steps outlined in our SFTP connection article. The most common issues here, though, are:

  • Not entering your FTP username. Be sure you’re entering your FTP username, not your email address or iThemes Username. Your username is unique and can be found in the FTP Information Section
  • Ensure that your FTP password is correct. You can always type out the password, copy it and try to sign in with it through the FTP client. If that works, you’ll know the password is correct. Otherwise, you can issue a password reset from the FTP Information section by selecting the Edit SFTP Password option.
  • Wrong Server or Port.  Be sure the server matches the Server listed under SFTP Information and that the port number is 22. 
  • Using FTP instead of SFTP.  Also be sure that the protocol is SFTP, not just FTP.

If you’ve checked all the above off the list, then be sure you’re using an FTP client, like Cyberduck (Mac)Filezilla (Mac / Windows), or WinSCP (Windows) to name some of the more popular ones. The big thing to remember is to use an FTP program; you can’t simply visit your FTP Server in a browser.

If your FTP client warns you about host keys when you try to connect, click the appropriate option to ignore the warning and connect anyway. If your FTP client can’t proceed with the connection because of host keys, try closing the client and restarting your machine.

Changes Are Not Showing

The biggest cause of this issue is browser caching, especially with CSS files. Your browser might not be downloading the newest version of the file, so be sure to flush your browser cache completely and/or open the page in a private/incognito window. Some browsers, like Chrome, also allow you to force the page to load without cache by using a hard refresh, which is cmd + shift + r on Mac (ctrl + shift + r on Windows). Flushing the server cache from the Advanced tab of the site’s Flywheel Dashboard may also help.

If you’re editing a CSS file, also be sure that the new CSS is specific enough to override the site’s existing CSS.

If you’re using a caching plugin or if your domain uses Cloudflare, that could also delay recent changes showing up on the site.

Getting Disconnected from SFTP

SFTP will automatically close the connection after several minutes of inactivity. So if you’re not navigating to new directories or editing/adding/removing files at least somewhat frequently, then there’s a chance the connection may be closed due to inactivity.

While the timeout is high enough, this shouldn’t happen if you’re actively working on a site. However, if you know you’re going to be focused on file editing for a while, the best way to keep ahead of this is to use your FTP client’s refresh command occasionally or to make file changes locally and just use FTP to upload the file changes once you’ve finished.

This may also have to do with the local network or FTP client you're using. If you see this occurring often, it may be worth testing other FTP clients and other networks to help narrow down the problem.

“File not found” Message When Saving or Uploading Files

This could be because the connection was closed, as described in the section above, or it could be that the FTP client or network lost the connection. The first step is to try the refresh command in your FTP client, then retry saving or uploading the file. If that doesn’t work, then disconnecting and reconnecting is likely the best option.

As with other items on this list, this too may have to do with the local network or FTP client in use, and testing other networks and programs may help resolve the issue.

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