Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

FTP, TRACERT and other forgotten conveniences

I’m almost embarrassed to write this post, but after getting off the phone with my technically savvy friend, Chuck Holton, I was surprised. What caught me off guard was the fact that he was unaware of some very convenient Internet/network related commands available at the … Linux and Mac users, please cover your eyes … the MS-DOS Command Prompt.

Yeah, okay, laugh if you will, but would you expect anything else from a bash shell/command line type of guy like me? And cheap too … you get these tools built into the operating system.

The point is, there are time when those of us working on Windows when we need to do something simple over the Internet, but don’t want all the hassle of install a full-blown, user-friendly, GUI-based client application.

Case in point, FTP:

Chuck and I are planning a trip. We will be at hotels with computers, but not necessarily an FTP client. Nor do I think the hotel tech.support would appreciate or even allow us installing something like WS-FTP. So how then do we pipe .JPG images from our cameras to our servers? Simple, if the computer has a USB port, so it plug-n-plays as another disk drive, e.g. D:, then we have everything we need to get the job done.

From the MS-DOS command line, we type in FTP, answer the username and password prompts, assert Binary mode, turn Prompts off, and mPut the whole shebang while we surf about on the browser for a place to have dinner.

And it doesn’t have to be a travel/hotel situation. I use FTP all the time when I’ve got a single file or directory I want to fire online in a hurry.

Useful Utils

There are some other commands out there that might help when you’re in your church’s office and are trying to figure out why they can’t FTP a file to the server. One such command is PING, a simple test to see if a computer is alive and doing TCP/IP from a domain name or IP address, e.g. ‘ping yahoo.com’.

Tracert is another useful command when you want to see the network hops from computer a to computer b. It also helps to track down a spammer’s upstream provider.

IPConfig has several options for enumerating your Ethernet configuration.

Similarly, Netstat enumerates your active TCP and UDP connections.

There is the Net command, which when used with various options, enumerates things such as print jobs, your workgroup and/or shared resources. I can also be used to start or stop network services (use with caution).

There are a couple others such as NBTSTAT, NSLOOKUP and the deprecated Telnet.

Some of you already know all this. Some of you might be bristling over the fact that I’m not suggesting a user obtain this information using Explorer/Control Panel, or some very cool network client tools such as NetScanTools.

Almost *nix

Then again, if you found the above quick and convenient as I do, and aren’t put out by a little typing, then you might be interested in the very cool, and incredibly useful GNU utilities for Win32.


  1. The great thing about Mac OSX is that command line utilities are built in, and I frequently use FTP in the shell (Terminal app in OSX). I’ve also found the bundled tool in the Utilities folder called Network Utility incredibly useful if I can’t seem to remember the command structure (sure I could just do a man, but sometimes it’s easier to use a GUI). Just wanted to let you know that not all of us Mac geeks are GUI-only, different situations call for different things.

  2. Great read Dean. Sometime we do trend to forget where we came from. I am an old DOS addict, and still find my there almost daily. I carry with my in my shoulder bag several DOS bbot disks, as well as DOS 6.22.

    Yup, thats me carrier of floppy disks, but you know, I used one today, so you never know.

    I was blessed to read this and know there are some of us left.

    God bless, and keep up the great site for healing your church. One I will actualy follow all your advice :)

  3. Of course with Windows and Internet Explorer, it’s even easier to type in ftp://www.yoursite.com, type in your username and password and there you are. Then you can just drag and drop the stuff right where you want it. No GUI interface to install. Simple.

  4. Thanks Randy! I had no idea I could do that in Windows.