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How to Transfer Files/Backup from Server to Server

Over the last few months, Picsopedia has bugged me a lot. It all began when I decided to move Picsopedia from DreamHost to HostGator and then from HostGator to Hostony. Just imagine how hard would it have been for me to transfer the whole 5GB big backup from one server to the other.

In all this time I managed to discover some tips and tricks that can be used to transfer files/backup from server to server. These tips and tricks make use of tools and utilities and are recommended for users who want to transfer huge files from one server to another in least possible time.

1. cPanel Remote Backup

This is the most easiest method used to transfer whole site backup from server to server. It makes use of the “Backups” feature in cPanel and needs to be enabled by your host.

To use this

  1. Open the Backups manager in your cPanel and click “Generate/Download a Full Backup”
  2. For Backup destination choose “Remote FTP Server (Passive Mode Transfer)”
  3. Enter the FTP server, username and password
  4. Enter the FTP server port (this is usually “21”)
  5. Leave Remote Dir field empty
  6. Hit “Generate Backup”

Your backup will now be passively generated and transfer from server to server using the net2ftp protocol. If you don’t see this option in your cPanel then you need to ask your host to enable it.

2. SSH

SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged over a secure channel between two computers. Now a days nearly every web host provides this on request. You will need the PuTTy client to connect to your server via SSH.

Once you are connected via PuTTy just follow the instructions:

  1. Login to server 1 via SSH and open the folder which you want to backup e.g.
    cd /home/somepath/to/yourwebsite/public_html
  2. Make a compressed archive out of this folder using the command
    tar -cvf sitepack.tar ./
  3. Login to server 2 via SSH and use the command below to fetch the backup from server
    wget yourdomain.com/sitepack.tar
  4. Now uncompress the archive using the command
    tar -xvf sitepack.tar
  5. To check the hirearchy of files and their permissions, use the command

3. FlashFXP

FlashFXP is one of those few FTP clients which allow you to transfer files through FTP from one server to another without downloading them to your local PC first.

I haven’t ever tried it myself but it is one of the most recommended FTP software across the Internet. You can download it from here.

4. SST Web Script

SST is basically a server to server file transfer PHP web script. It is really useful as I have used it myself several times however it is recommended for small backup/file transfers. It has a complete GUI which lets you operate it easily. You need to install this on server 2 (the server where you want to download your backup)

Download the script from Sizlopedia.

Thats all! I knew only 4 best techniques to transfer files/backup from server to server. If you have any more, please share in the comments.



{ 32 comments… add one }

  • Haris March 16, 2008, 10:50 pm

    Wow! Thanks for the great tips! I might need them anytime for my image hosting site

  • Sumesh March 17, 2008, 1:02 am

    It must be hard work for you managing such large sites (though Picsopedia is not yet large). Kudos!

    On a side note, don’t you think Sizlopedia’s current theme is too minimalist? I like the logo, but everything else is just gray/white/black. wtf, no colors?

  • Dj Flush March 17, 2008, 1:26 am


    You are welcome!


    I know Picsopedia, as compared to a good image hosting site, is still not large enough but with time it will get really big and I am sure of that.

    I just like the way Sizlopedia looks now. Less ads and more content for users.

  • Madhur Kapoor March 17, 2008, 2:16 am

    Thanks for the tip Dj. It will be helpful when i will move my site to a new server.

  • Raj March 17, 2008, 2:43 pm

    Thanks DJ For these Tips.

    Very soon am going to transfer my 2GB Data to some other server. So this will help me a lot.

  • Mayank March 19, 2008, 6:57 am

    As I am having limited bandwidth here in India so does the above mentioned process gonna affect that…Or it will just transferred without any connection to the PC?

    Thanks! for creating sizlopedia

  • Dj Flush March 19, 2008, 11:16 am

    @ Mayank

    All these methods use passive server to server connections so you don’t need to worry about your local Internet bandwidth

  • Hi April 12, 2008, 4:40 pm

    i used the above php script , but it’s not working for me properly
    Request Status :
    Error downloading from http://www.songspedia.com/abc.exe

    I want to transfer my site to another sever, i got about 70 Gb data ,
    Regards Sumair

  • Dj Flush April 13, 2008, 1:31 am

    70GB is a little too big to handle as the script will need a lot of memory to do this transfer and will eventually end up in a timeout.

    You should use the cPanel Backup method, perhaps thats the only method that can handle the transfer of such big amount of data.

  • R.D. April 21, 2008, 1:49 am

    SST (Server to Server Transfer) is a great script. Just that i was thinking to find a edited copy / editing it with someone so that it could be freed of that 5 MB filesize transfer restriction. If that could be done, things would be quite sweet than they are at the moment. Please assist if you can, ill be more that pleased than ever if this happens !!!

  • Antonimo May 18, 2008, 8:20 pm


    SST file, “downloader.php” – line 155:

    Changing this line:
    gives a 20 MB limit.

    If you go too large, you will run out of memory. I ran out at approximatey 120 MB

  • Salman May 25, 2008, 4:44 pm

    Hi DJ,
    I made backup successfully using cPanel Remote Backup now can you plz tell me how to restore that backup file on to my new server so that everything become correct as it is on previous server.

  • Dj Flush May 25, 2008, 6:02 pm

    To restore the backup the best thing to do is contact your web hosting support as they are more skilled in this mapper.

    Otherwise you can simply extract the TAR and use your files and folders the way you want.

  • Custom Bobblehead July 15, 2008, 11:02 am

    Can anyone suggest me a way to sync my local back files with the server files? And if I can sycn it everyday? I need a local backup files, up-to-day. :) Thanks!

  • greeny6000 September 5, 2008, 5:50 pm

    I used SSH commands to transfer 1.5gb over to my new server, it worked a treat. Thanks for this great info, it saved me a lot of time, hassle and bandwidth

  • Abdul Wahid September 18, 2008, 11:00 pm


    I get this for a 52mb file.

    Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 31196379 bytes) in /home2/funk999/public_html/siteadmin/downloader.php on line 166

    I increased the memory limit aswell, it use to be fine untill i upgraded to php5


  • mick November 13, 2008, 5:48 pm

    Exactly what I was looking for with the SSH.
    Thanks for posting that stuff.

  • salman February 10, 2009, 3:51 pm

    Dear I used your first method to transfer data, means I used cPanel remote data backup and given all the info like FTP server IP, user name, password, port of the new server. But after 10 minute, I got the email that the backup completed successfully. But this process generated backup on old server, instead of new bought server.

    I was thinking that backup will be saved at the new hosting account. Please help me what should I do, or it will slowly transfer at new server ?

    • Saad Hamid February 21, 2009, 7:24 pm

      Actually sir! thats what its supposed to do.

      It first generates the backup on the local server and then transfers it over the web to the new server through Remote backup facility.

  • Kamo June 25, 2009, 5:41 pm

    Hi there
    Is there a method to make sst script work on host with php5 ? It just doesnt do anything. I can’ go with fxp and ssh and cpanel option is giving me timouts.


  • Aqeel Syed August 5, 2009, 5:28 pm

    I use net2ftp, a web based ftp client for server to server file transfers. You can download it and install at your server, its a complete FTP client and most important its free.

  • Aqeel Syed August 5, 2009, 10:28 pm

    I use net2ftp, a web based ftp client for server to server file transfers. You can download it and install at your server, its a complete FTP client and most important its free.

  • bhavyakamboj October 9, 2009, 1:48 pm

    i want to download files from audio.iskcondesiretree.net to krishnadevotees.com so that they sycnchronise and i dont download then upload. is there any software forr that

  • GEPETO October 10, 2009, 8:25 pm

    hi, man this perfect, thankyou, very usefull

  • Webmaster October 23, 2009, 5:27 am

    Is there a cronjob command to do cPanel Remote Backup?

  • Webmaster October 23, 2009, 10:27 am

    Is there a cronjob command to do cPanel Remote Backup?

  • Lifepk.com May 30, 2010, 5:07 am

    its been very nice sharing about server to server, thanks

  • Sams ftp hosting August 29, 2010, 6:19 pm

    It could be easier if you had them all on one virtualised server because the admin system would be much faster.

  • Group December 13, 2010, 5:17 pm

    really appreciate sharing all that info

  • funvblog February 10, 2011, 7:17 am

    Wow, awesome article on file transfer. I will surely use one technique to transfer my files from one server to another. Thanks

  • smskeen February 10, 2011, 6:19 pm

    thanks you for sharing this information….

  • d October 17, 2012, 6:14 am

    Hallo Guys,
    Do you know any way (like “SST”) to import to ftp file ~800MB from internet location using the file link?
    I have really huge challenge and trying to find some smart way to sort it out

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