FTP: Tricks of the Transfer

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FTP was one of the first protocols used to transfer files between computers in the early days of the modern Internet. Years ago, I used to log on to the local college’s mainframe computer and FTP files to and fro. It was a fun protocol to learn, and it still is. FTP is a very handy mechanism for moving data between AS/400s or between an AS/400 and almost any other machine, including PCs and UNIX machines. FTP, like HTTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), is a standard TCP/IP protocol, which means that, no matter what system you are running, you will be able to communicate with any other system that also uses TCP/IP. In this article, I’m going to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years for getting the most out of FTP.

Source Member Transfers

Figure 1 shows the FTP commands you’ll need to enter to retrieve a source member from an AS/400, as well as the responses you’ll get from the FTP server. Notice that the first command you enter after your user name and password, Change Directory (CD), changes the current directory of the host machine to the library BVSLIB. The next command, Local Change Directory (LCD), changes the local directory on your PC to c:download. This is the name of the directory on your local PC where you’ll store the files retrieved from the host.

The next command shown in Figure 1 is the GET command. This command allows you to send or retrieve a file from the host. The naming format for the file in this case is FILENAME.MEMBER. So, in this case, I am retrieving the member TESTPGM from the QRPGLESRC source file. Once the transfer is complete, I will have a file on my PC in the c:download directory named qrpglesrc.textpgm. This file will be a text file, and it can be opened or viewed with a program such as Windows Notepad.

Finally, the QUIT command is issued, which closes the connection to the host machine and, in some cases, ends the FTP client program.

PC to AS/400

The steps to send files to an AS/400 from a PC are exactly the opposite of the steps shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 shows a session that sends the TESTPGM member back to the source physical file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB. In this example, I used fully qualified names to illustrate how it works.

Multiple Files

The first two examples were pretty simple. But now I’ll show you how to send or retrieve multiple files from an AS/400. For example, if I wanted to download every member from the QRPGLESRC source file, I would use the Multiple GET (MGET) command. The opposite of MGET is the Multiple PUT (MPUT) command, which is used to send multiple files to a host machine.

Figure 3 shows the commands used for the MGET example. You’ll notice a new command, PROMPT, which tells the host system not to verify that I want to receive each member one at a time. In other words, if I didn’t use the PROMPT command, the host machine would ask whether I am sure that I want to download each particular member.

Trailing Blanks

One problem programmers face when using FTP as a client on the AS/400 is that it is set up as a default to trim trailing blanks from records. What this means is that, if you have a file to be transferred from the PC that has a record length of 250 characters but the longest record in the file is only 200 characters, the file that is created on the remote machine will also have a record length of only 200 characters, rather than 250. This may cause problems on the remote system if the application that needs to read that file is expecting a record length of 250 characters.

This problem is easily solved by using the FTP command TRIM . The TRIM command tells the AS/400 to trim or not to trim trailing blanks during the transfer. This command must be prefixed with the LOCSITE command, which says that the command is applied to the local machine (in this case, the AS/400).

Issuing the command LOCSITE TRIM 0 will turn off trimming. LOCSITE TRIM 1 will turn on trimming. LOCSITE TRIM will display the current mode of TRIM.

FTP Scripts

The next trick that I have found very useful is using a script—either predefined or dynamically created—to tell the FTP client what to do. I have used this method with both Windows and AS/400 FTP clients. While the method performs the same function on both platforms (i.e., telling the FTP client to read its commands from a file), the way it is done for each is fairly different.

To use a script for the AS/400 FTP client, you must use the Override with Database File (OVRDBF) command, which overrides the file INPUT and accesses the file and source member that contains the FTP commands. The standard INPUT and OUTPUT files used by FTP are normally the console running the FTP commands on the AS/400. That is, when an FTP command executes in a script, its output (if any) such as information messages, are directed to the display station the script is executing on. You can override the INPUT and OUTPUT files to a physical file on the AS/400 to capture the output from the FTP script so that any messages issued by the script will be suppressed and the user will not see them.

Figure 4 (page 74) shows the CL command that will tell the FTP client to read its commands from the member FTPSCRIPT1 in file QFTPSRC. The member can be static (hand-keyed with SEU) or built dynami-cally (with an RPG program, for example).

You can also redirect the output produced by the FTP session to a file; the OVRDBF command on the file named OUTPUT does this in Figure 5. In this case, the output will be stored in the file QFTPSRC, member OUT1. OUTPUT is appended to the file, so if you want it cleared before each run, you’ll have to do so yourself. If the file doesn’t already exist, it will be created by the system.

Using scripts with the Windows FTP client is similar. On the FTP command, you specify the file name that contains the FTP scripts. Simply use the -s option on the Windows 9x FTP command and tell it which file to use. For example, ftp -s:c:ftpscript1.txt tells the Windows FTP client to read its commands from the file script1.txt, located in the FTP directory. Static scripts can be built using Notepad, or the script can be built dynamically with anything from MS-DOS batch commands to Visual Basic.

Using AS/400 Save Files

The last trick, which a lot of people are asking about, is transferring a save file from the AS/400 to a PC platform for storage. I have found myself using this technique when a new machine arrives and I don’t have any tapes available for backups. Saving libraries to a save file and FTPing them to a PC or other server has helped me sleep better at night. This is also a useful technique for transferring save files to other users over the Internet.

Here’s how you do it: Save the objects on your AS/400, FTP them to your PC, attach the *SAVF to an email, and send it to a buddy across the country. When your buddy receives the file, he’ll FTP it to his own AS/400 and restore it. Worldwide object distribution made simple!

The first step is to create a save file on your AS/400 by using the Create Save File (CRTSAVF) command. Next, issue a SAVxxx command just as you would if you were saving objects to a tape, but, for the device type, select *SAVF. The command will then prompt you for the save file location. Once the save is complete, start an FTP session from your PC to the AS/400, switch to binary mode using the BIN command, and then issue a GET command to retrieve the save file. Figure 5 shows an example of this technique.

To restore the data to the AS/400, the steps are the same. First, create a save file on the AS/400. Next, start your FTP session to the AS/400, change to binary mode, and then issue a PUT command. The important parts are that you use binary mode and that you create the save file first. If you don’t create the save file first, a physical file will be created when you issue the PUT command. When you create a save file first, the system knows where to put the data. It will even tell you if you not in binary mode.

How Far Will You Take FTP?

I encourage you to experiment with FTP (on a test machine, of course!) to see what it can do for you. You can use FTP for simple file transfers, or you can use it as the backbone of a complex data transfer system. It all depends on how far you want to take it.

If you have a favorite FTP tip, feel free to send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the MC tech team may make them available in either a future article or in Tech Talk. We’re always looking for easier ways to perform tasks!

ftp> open
Connected to
220-QTCP at MC170.
220 Connection will close if idle more than 166 minutes.
User ( userid
331 Enter password.

230 STONE logged on.
ftp> cd bvslib
250 "BVSLIB" is current library.
ftp> lcd c:download
Local directory now C:Download.
ftp> get qrpglesrc.testpgm
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member TESTPGM in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 11021 bytes received in 1.70Seconds 6.48Kbytes/sec.

Figure 1: A simple FTP session will copy a source member to a PC.

ftp> open
Connected to
220-QTCP at MC170.
220 Connection will close if idle more than 166 minutes.
User ( userid
331 Enter password.

230 STONE logged on.
ftp> put c:downloadqrpglesrc.testpgm bvslib/qrpglesrc.testpgm
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Sending file to member TESTPGM in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 11021 bytes sent in 3.18Seconds 3.47Kbytes/sec.
ftp> ftp> open
Connected to
220-QTCP at MC170.
220 Connection will close if idle more than 166 minutes.
User ( userid
331 Enter password.

230 STONE logged on.
ftp> cd bvslib
250 "BVSLIB" is current library.
ftp> lcd c:download
Local directory now C:Download.
ftp> prompt
Interactive mode Off .
ftp> mget qrpglesrc.*
200 Representation type is ASCII nonprint.
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member TESTPGM in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 11021 bytes received in 4.01Seconds 2.75Kbytes/sec.
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member TESTPGM2 in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 9514 bytes received in 3.18Seconds 2.99Kbytes/sec.
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member TESTPGM3 in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 12841 bytes received in 3.73Seconds 3.44Kbytes/sec.
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member TESTPGM4 in file QRPGLESRC in library BVSLIB.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 12243 bytes received in 3.57Seconds 3.43Kbytes/sec.

Connected to
220-QTCP at MC170.
220 Connection will close if idle more than 166 minutes.
User ( userid
331 Enter password.

230 STONE logged on.
ftp> cd qgpl
250 "QGPL" is current library.
ftp> lcd c:savefiles
Local directory now C:savefiles.
ftp> bin

Figure 2: The steps to send a file to the AS/400 are the opposite of those in Figure 1.

Figure 3: Use the MGET method in an FTP session to retrieve multiple files from an AS/400.

Figure 4: You can use CL commands to tell the AS/400 FTP client to read its commands from a file.

200 Representation type is binary IMAGE.
ftp> get bvslib
200 PORT subcommand request successful.
150 Retrieving member BVSLIB in file BVSLIB in library QGPL.
250 File transfer completed successfully.
ftp: 228096 bytes received in 73.71Seconds 3.09Kbytes/sec.

Figure 5: Retrieve a save file from an AS/400 via an FTP session.



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    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.